In an environment that promotes the “metrosexual” man, younger men, in particular, have no inhibitions about extending their personal care beyond the toothbrush and razor.
Currently growth in the men’s product market is outpacing that in women’s products and most manufacturers of personal care products now offer a range of sub-brands specifically for men. With men paying more and more attention to their appearance, a large number of pleasurable rather than purely functional men’s personal care products have found their way on to the shelves. Face gels are frequently found right at the front of men’s bathroom cabinets: with their clear, light appearance they leave the skin feeling well moisturized and fresh and are popular for everyday use.
A desirable feature for all face gels is crystal-clear transparency, combined with a firm texture and agreeable skin feeling. This is achieved by the addition of a transparent thickener. The choice of thickener depends on factors such as purity, colour and smell, as well as on the rheology profile. Increasingly, customers also expect their products to fulfil other criteria, including natural formulations, non-GMO raw materials, ethical and animal-friendly status. Xanthan gum has the ideal rheology profile for many personal care applications. This fact sheet was designed to demonstrate that it is ideal as a natural thickener for face gels.
Natural versus synthetic thickening agents
Thickeners are used to enhance the stability and performance of a cosmetic product, as well as to improve consistency, volume, and viscosity. They can be divided into natural or synthetic thickeners. Whereas carbomers, a synonym for polyacrylates, are examples of synthetic thickeners frequently used in personal care, xanthan gum
is of 100% natural origin and biodegradable. Carbomers are synthesized from fossil raw materials. Carbomers and xanthan gum are both very efficient and show good water retention. They form gels of different strengths in aqueous solutions and are available as transparent grades. At very high concentrations, xanthan gum can exhibit an
unpleasant sticky skin feeling, whereas carbomers remain pleasant even at high viscosities. Xanthan gum is very stable over a wide range of pH and salt concentrations, carbomers on the other hand, are more sensitive to pH and high ion content. In summary, each thickener has some advantages over the other and there are also many
similarities between them. From a consumer point of view the most noticeable difference is the source, which in the case of xanthan gum is natural.
The serious ecological consequences arising from the accumulation of plastics in nature and the finiteness of fossil raw materials are causing many consumers to give preference to products containing natural ingredients. Consequently, the search is on for alternatives to synthetic thickeners.
The challenge is to find natural thickeners that can replace synthetic thickeners without compromising the appearance, texture or skin sensation of the face gel.