|What is it?||A natural gum made from the fermentation of sugar.
We can purchase three different types of xanthan gum: regular, soft, and clear.
|Appearance||Fine off-white granular powder. Regular xanthan tends to be a bit more cream coloured while soft and clear are a bit whiter.|
|Texture||Regular/ normal: Once hydrated it creates slick, slimy gels.
Soft & clear: Once hydrated they create slippy, cushiony gels.
|Why do we use it in formulations?||In gels, xanthan gum creates the body of the gel. In emulsions, it can be used to stabilize and thicken.
I don’t like the feel of gels thickened solely with regular xanthan gum; I find them to be slimy and unpleasant. I prefer to use regular xanthan gum around 01–0.3% in emulsions—at that low usage rate, it contributes a lovely slip and added stability to the emulsion.
Soft & clear xanthan gums are far more versatile than regular xathan gum as the skin feel and consistency is far more appealing.
|Do you need it?||No|
|Strengths||Effective natural gelling agent and thickener.|
|Weaknesses||Regular: Unappealing consistency, poor leave-on skin feel to some people.
Soft & clear: More expensive than regular, not as readily available.
|Alternatives & Substitutions||Consider guar gum or hydroxyethylcellulose.
I find soft & clear xanthan gum don’t thicken as strongly as regular xanthan gum, so if a formulation calls for regular xanthan gum and you’re using soft or clear, you’ll want to use a bit more. I’d start with 20–30% more, so if a formulation called for 0.4% regular xanthan gum, I’d try 0.5% soft or clear xanthan gum.
If a formulation calls for soft or clear xanthan gum, and you want to use regular instead, I’d use 20–30% less. You’ll also want to keep in mind that the skin feel and appearance will be different. If you’re making an emulsion that contains a small % of xanthan to thicken and stabilize you likely won’t notice a huge difference, but if you’re making a gelled product and xanthan gum is the star gelling ingredient, you definitely will.
|How to Work with It||Pre-disperse it in glycerin or oil (depending on what else is in the formulation) before combining it with water to fully hydrate. I usually choose oil as the pre-dispersing medium when it is available as xanthan gum cannot clump in oil.|
|Storage & Shelf Life||Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, xanthan gum should last at least two years.|
|Tips, Tricks, and Quirks||The inclusion of xanthan gum in emulsions can amplify the soaping effect.|
|Recommended starter amount||30g (1oz)|
|Where to Buy it||Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.|
Some Formulations that Use Xanthan Gum
- Gentle Low-Lather Face Cleanser
- Hyaluronic Acid Serum: 3 vs. 5 vs. 8 ingredients
- Rich Herbal Body Cream
- 5% Lactic Acid + Hyaluronic Acid Exfoliating Serum
- Brighten & Boost Facial Serum
- Soft Oat Hand Lotion
- Raspberry Lavender Soothing Body Milk
- Brightening Hyaluronic Acid & Niacinamide Facial Serum
- Chocolate Hazelnut Emulsified Body Butter
- Rich Plum Face Wash
- Happy Hemp Hand Cream
- Shealoe Emulsified Body Butter
- Sun Bum Body Cream
- Cocoa Coconut Rich Cream Facial Cleanser
- Nourishing Hand Rescue Lotion
- Whipped Cream Calendula Facial Cleanser
- Hyaluronic Acid B5 Facial Serum
- Soothing Creamy Facial Cleanser
- Lavender Aloe Cream Facial Cleanser
- Intense Hand Rescue Cream