What is it? Polyamide-3 can be used to thicken oils (without adding opacity like waxes and fatty thickeners!), and because it’s also a great film-former it improves the wear time of our formulations. It is part of “a group of oil structuring polymers that create impressive films on the skin, lip and eyelash, delivering water and wear resistance benefits in colour cosmetic and sun care applications.” (source).

There are three different products with the INCI polyamide-3, all made by Croda as part of their OleoCraft™ line. I have found two available for sale to home crafters. TKB Trading’s Polyamide-3 (“Citrine Clear Wax”) is OleoCraft™ MP-30. I asked Making Cosmetics about their Polyamide-3 product and they told me it is “very similar to OleoCraft™ MP-32.”

Despite identical INCIs, these products perform slightly differently and cannot always be substituted for one another. Learn more with this super-helpful document!

INCI Polyamide-3
Appearance Clear, sticky, slightly yellow beads
Usage rate 1–30%
Texture Raw Polyamide-3 is firm and sticky
Scent Nothing noticeable
Approximate Melting Point MP-30 softens at 97°C (207°F), MP-32 softens at 99°C (210°F)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? I primarily use Polyamide-3 as a thickener/gelling agent for anhydrous formulations. If you want to add a bit of viscosity and gloss to an oil blend, Polyamide-3 is the ingredient for you! You can also create clear oil gels with Polyamide-3.

Polyamide-3 is also an effective film former and helps extend the wear time of colour cosmetics by reducing rub-off. Polyamide-3 “is an oil structuring polymer that creates impressive films on the skin, lip and eyelash, delivering water and wear resistance benefits across a variety of colour cosmetic and sun care applications.” (source)

Do you need it? No, but if you want to make gelled oil products and/or your own lip gloss base I haven’t found anything better!
Refined or unrefined? Polyamide-3 only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Polyamide-3 does some amazing things that can be hard to achieve! It gels/thickens oils while leaving them clear and it improves the wear time of colour cosmetics.
Weaknesses It’s difficult to source outside of the USA.
Alternatives & Substitutions I would start with a different Polyamide-3 product, though you may have to adjust the concentration to get the desired level of thickening.

As always, when making substitutions, it’s important to understand what an ingredient is bringing to a formulation, and why it was included. If polyamide-3 was included for thickening, you’ll need another thickener. If it was included for rub-off resistance/film-forming, you’ll need another ingredient that can do this job. Generally speaking, polyamide-3 will be fairly hard to substitute out if it’s being used to thicken/gel oils and keep them clear or if it’s being used to improve rub-off resistance in a formulation containing oils.

How to Work with It I find Polyamide-3 needs direct heat (not a water bath) to melt.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Polyamide-3 should last two or more years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Croda’s OleoCraft™ polymer line also includes OleoCraft™ LP-20 (INCI: Polyamide-8), which works with low to medium polarity oils. You cannot use this instead of Polyamide-3 without making some changes; it could potentially work if you shift the polarity balance of the oils in your formulation.
Recommended starter amount 50g (1.76oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. I have only found it for sale in the USA at TKB Trading and Making Cosmetics.

Some Formulations that Use Polyamide-3


Posted on

July 15, 2021