To attain an appealing and useful consistency, thickeners are added to many products. Here are the four types of thickeners and a brief overview of how each of them work:
1. Lipid thickener -These substances work by incorporating their natural thickness to the formula. Some examples include cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, and carnauba wax.
2. Naturally derived thickener- These substances, as one may gather from the name, come from nature. They absorb water, swell and thus make the solution more viscous. Some examples include Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, Gelati, and Guar Gum. Below is a lewis structure of guar gum. As you can see, the molecule is super polar and loves to interact with water allowing the guar gum to absorb the water.
3. Mineral thickener- These thickeners are very similar to the naturally derived thickener in that they are both natural and react with water similarly. The substances absorb water and swell. However, the resulting solution has a different texture than one that would be derived by the gum substances. Some examples include Silica, Bentonite, and Magnesium Aluminum Silicate.
4. Synthetic thickener- These are the most commonly used thickeners in lotions and creams. Carbomer, seen below, swells when introduced to water and its unique shape gives the solution a nice smooth texture unlike other thickeners that have a sticky finish.