gelling agent

To produce viscous gels as a basis for skin, deodorant and shower gels, shampoos and as a stabilizing component in emulsions and decorative cosmetics, we need substances that swell in water and thicken it, so-called hydrocolloids. In this block post I would like to briefly explain how gelling agents work, what their properties are and how we can optimally process them. Depending on their origin, we differentiate between natural, semi-synthetic, synthetic and inorganic gelling agents. In natural cosmetics, we mainly use natural polysaccharides and their (semi-synthetic) derivatives. The term hydrocolloids already contains the basic property of this group of substances: the words hydro (Greek water) and colloids (Greek glue-like) refer to substances that form a coherent gel in a dispersant (usually water in the cosmetics sector). . A 3-dimensional framework is created, comparable to a net or sponge, in the interstices of which water and dissolved active ingredients (hydrogels), but also other substances, such as small amounts of oil (hydrodispersion gels) or pigments, can be integrated. Hydrocolloids are not just auxiliary substances, but also have cosmetically desirable properties: they bind water on the skin's surface and reduce transepidermal water loss (acting through the skin to the outside). Some gel formers act synergistically, ie they improve their properties in combination.

Note on processing

The property of swelling immediately on contact with water sometimes leads to the problem of clumping when processing gel formers, since the individual particles form solid agglomerates (aggregates) with one another and can no longer be easily processed into a homogeneous gel. In principle, the following methods, which have been known in pharmacy practice for years, have proven their worth:

  • A dispersing (uniform distribution) of the gelling agent in a liquid in which it cannot swell: alcohol (from 70% vol) is preferred. Then the water is added while stirring and the gel is left to rest until it has finally thickened.
  • Dispersing the gelling agent while stirring in very hot water: the brief exposure to heat is compatible with all gelling agents. After solving (dissolving), the gel is allowed to swell for a short time (depending on the gelling agent).

Dispersing the gel-forming agent in cold or slightly warmed water while stirring vigorously: After dissolving, the gel is also allowed to swell (for different lengths of time depending on the gel-forming agent).

We sell xanthan as a gelling agent for cosmetics.


Important !!!

Microbial spoilage

Organic gelling agents are prone to microbial spoilage; therefore immediate and sufficient preservation of the finished product is essential.

Dispersing in alcohol before processing also has advantages in terms of preservation.

We recommend our vegetable preservative

Use Naturellia preservatives available in the shop.

It is a broadband conservator with which you are completely protected and can rest for up to 3 months.