What is Carbomer?

Carbomer is a versatile and widely used ingredient in the beauty, pharmaceutical, and food industries. But what exactly is it, and why is it so popular? Let's dive into the world of carbomers to understand their chemistry, applications, benefits, and more.

The Chemistry Behind Carbomer

Carbomer, also known as carbopol, is a high molecular weight polymer made primarily from acrylic acid. Its structure consists of long chains of acrylic acid monomers that are cross-linked with allyl ethers of pentaerythritol. This cross-linking gives carbomer its unique properties, making it an excellent thickener and stabilizer.

Carbomer is synthesized through a process called free radical polymerization. This involves combining acrylic acid with a cross-linking agent in the presence of a catalyst. The reaction forms a gel-like substance that can absorb large amounts of water, creating a viscous and stable product.

Types of Carbomer

Carbomer 940

Carbomer 940 is one of the most common variants, known for its high viscosity and clarity. It's widely used in personal care products like gels and creams due to its ability to create a smooth, non-greasy texture.

Carbomer 934

Carbomer 934 is another popular type, often found in pharmaceutical applications. It provides excellent stability and can maintain viscosity over a wide pH range.

Other Variants

Other variants include Carbomer 941, 980, and 981, each tailored for specific applications based on their unique properties, such as viscosity, clarity, and compatibility with different formulations.

Applications in Different Industries


In the pharmaceutical industry, carbomers are used in topical formulations like gels, creams, and ointments. They help in delivering active ingredients efficiently by providing a stable and consistent medium.


Carbomers are a staple in cosmetics, providing a smooth and appealing texture to products like lotions, serums, and makeup. They help in suspending insoluble ingredients and ensure even distribution on the skin.

Personal Care Products

Personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners, and toothpaste benefit from carbomers' thickening and stabilizing properties, enhancing the user experience with improved texture and performance.

Food Industry

Though less common, carbomers are also used in the food industry as stabilizers and thickening agents in products like sauces and dressings, ensuring a consistent texture and preventing separation.

Benefits of Using Carbomer

Stabilizing Properties: Carbomers are excellent stabilizers, preventing the separation of ingredients in emulsions and ensuring that products maintain their consistency over time.

Thickening Agent: As a thickening agent, carbomer can transform liquids into gels and creams, providing the desired viscosity and texture without the need for additional ingredients.

Emulsion Stabilizer: In emulsions, carbomers help in maintaining the stability of the mixture, ensuring that oil and water components do not separate and remain homogenous.

Carbomer is a versatile and essential ingredient in many products we use daily. From thickening lotions to stabilizing emulsions, its unique properties make it invaluable in various industries. Furthermore, it should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture to maintain its stability and efficacy.

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