Texture enhancer

No known benefits

Carbomer at a glance

  • Often used to create gel-textured formulas.
  • May influence a product’s consistency in other ways by having a thickening/viscosity-controlling effect.
  • Can increase skin permeation and retention of key active ingredients.
  • Utilised in all kinds of beauty products including facial moisturisers, body lotions, hair care and makeup.
  • The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel reviewed carbomer and reaffirmed its safety.

Carbomer description

Carbomers are a group of synthetic skin care ingredients used primarily to create gel-like formulations. They can also influence a product’s texture in other ways by having a thickening/viscosity-controlling effect. Studies have shown that carbomer gel formulations can increase skin permeation and retention of key active ingredients. Carbomers are utilised in a wide range of beauty products beyond skin care, including hair care and makeup items. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel recently re-reviewed carbomer’s safety and reaffirmed that concentrations up to 15% are safe as used in personal care products. As a raw material, carbomers come in the form of light, fluffy, white powders. Note: High amounts of carbomers in a gel may result in the product rolling or balling up of cosmetic products on skin, but this phenomenon depends on other formulary steps taken to minimise this effect.

Carbomer references

  • The Cosmetic Ingredient Review, January 2019 pages 1-42
  • Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy, February 2016, ePublication
  • Pharmacognosy Magazine, October-December 2013, pages S6-S10
  • Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, 2013, pages 17-18
  • International Journal of Toxicology, January 2003, pages 6-11

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated