A common and inactive ingredient: What is Carbomer?

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A common and inactive ingredient: What is Carbomer?

Carbomer is a term used for a series of polymers primarily made from acrylic acid. Carbomers are white fluffy powders frequently used as gels in cosmetics and personal care products. Unlike active ingredients that offer results-driven value to a product, carbomers are inactive ingredients that help active ingredients work better.

Many personal care products can contain carbomers: styling gel, facial moisturizer, sunscreen, shampoo, anti-aging treatment, eye cream, cleansers, and scrubs.


Gel on a surface


What should you know about carbomers in skincare?

You can find carbomers listed as polymers in the ingredients of care products. They work as thickening agents, suspending solids in liquids, and work as emulsifiers to prevent oil and water from separating.

Carbomers are considered safe for all skin types. And the frequency of its applications depends on the specific product you are using. However, carbomers are mainly safe and do not bioaccumulate, so overuse of this particular product shouldn't be an issue for most.

When it comes to their adaptation to a care routine with other ingredients, carbomers fit well indistinctly. These polymers are very versatile and work well with just about any element.

Benefits of Carbomer for skin

While carbomers alone won't do much to improve the condition of your skin or treat an existing issue or concern, they can offer benefits when featured in certain products. This is because the carbomers included in cosmetics act as ingredients to enhance the effect of the genuinely active ingredients. So while they don't have a solid individual impact, combined with other factors, they can potentiate additional benefits.

  • Thickens or evens out the consistency of products: Carbomers are thickening agents that help control many cosmetic products' texture or stickiness and flow.
  • Prevents separation in products: Additionally, they help distribute and suspend insoluble solids into liquid and prevent the oil and liquid parts of a solution from separating. This helpful trait is what makes thinner moisturizers as emulsions work.
  • Improves the texture of products: Carbomers can expand to 1000 times their original volume in water. As a result, carbomers can easily absorb and retain water and immensely grow when suspended in water. Formulations can appear richer, more smooth, and creamier when adding carbomers to shampoos, conditioners, creams, and lotions.

Side-effects of carbomers

According to the Environmental Working Group, carbomers are safe ingredients. In addition, it isn't an ingredient associated with causing cancer and has also not been linked to developmental or reproductive toxicity.

Additionally, carbomers shouldn’t compromise the immune system or cause allergic reactions. If you use a carbomer-containing product and experience an adverse reaction, another active ingredient probably causes it.

As they are versatile ingredients, widely included and combined, usage of carbomers will depend on the specific product. Therefore, if you're using a product that relies on carbomers, be sure to follow the use instructions of that particular product carefully. And reduce or discontinue its use if you notice adverse side effects, like breakouts or irritation. 

CRAFT & CARE Products do not contain carbomers.

carbomer microplastic skin

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