Cosmetic Grade Water Thickener

The water thickener I am about to share is not the usual food-based thickener in your kitchen... although the concept is the same.

These are cosmetic grade thickeners that are added into skincare and makeup formulations to form a viscous texture.

You can choose to make the solution very runny or as thick as honey.

What is a cosmetic water thickener?

A cosmetic water thickener also known as aqueous thickener is an ingredient that has emulsifying or gelling properties. It helps enhance the volume, viscosity and stability of the product.

They can be derived from various sources such as polysaccharides, protein, alcohols, waxes and silicones.

List of water thickeners

Hydroxyethylcellulose, Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose

Bentonite clay, Rhassoul clay, Kaolin clay

Xanthan gum, Guar gum, Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum aka Tara Gum

Arrowroot starch, Modified rice starch, Tapioca starch, Hydroxypropyl starch phosphate (cosmetic grade type of corn starch)



If you are looking for oil thickeners, click here.

How to choose the best water thickener?

It depends on your formula and what you are making. Use this guideline to help you choose the most suitable aqueous thickener.

  • Is it water-soluble or oil-soluble?
  • Does your formula contains both water and oil? If yes, you may need an emulsifier instead.
  • What type of special manufacturing method do you need - high shear dispersion or homogenize?
  • Is it pH sensitive?
  • Is it heat sensitive?
  • Is it fragrance-free or produce an unpleasant smell?
  • What color is it or what color will it become?
  • Are there any other type of thickeners or stabilizers in my formula, or else my product will become too thick?

How much thickener do I need?

It depends on how viscous you want your finished product to be.

Follow recommendations given by your supplier first. Then test it out. Adjust if necessary.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is not a thickener but it does increase your final product's viscosity. So if your formula contains ingredients like HA, you may need to adjust your percentages accordingly to get the required viscosity.

When to use an aqueous thickener?

This one's easy. Use a suitable thickener when you want your product:

  • to have a thicker viscosity
  • to evenly disperse actives and pigments
  • to provide customers a rich, luxurious feel
  • and more!

You can find various thickeners in our everyday items like:

  • lipstick
  • shampoo
  • cleanser
  • scrubs
  • dishwashing soap 

Sometimes you may not get the perfect formula the first because thickeners as you know, can alter the chemistry of the formulation.

But once you get it, it's going to feel so satisfying!

Where to buy thickeners?

I get mine from reliable cosmetic suppliers over here.

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