"Xanthan Gum" is the I.N.C.I. name for xanthan gum. It's a beauty care ingredient known for its gelling and thickening properties. Its texturing potential varies depending on the amount used. Where does this widely used compound in formulation come from? What are its functions? Let's delve in.
What is "Xanthan Gum" and what is its purpose?
Xanthan gum, in brief.
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide natural. It was discovered in the late 1950s in the research laboratories of the American Department of Agriculture during research work on the industrial applications of microbial biopolymers. In-depth research revealed that the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris, present on cabbage plants, produces a high molecular weight polysaccharide, which protects the bacterium from heat or other microorganisms. This polysaccharide, called xanthan gum, has proven to have technically and economically remarkable properties. The industrial importance of xanthan gum lies in its exceptional qualities as a rheological control agent in aqueous systems and as a stabiliser for emulsions, suspensions and foams.
Xanthan gum, which is now a component of many cosmetic products as well as certain foods, is obtained through the fermentation of various types of natural sugars : glucose, mannose, glucuronic acid, and pyruvic acid. The fermented mixture is then pasteurised before being put through a filter and centrifuge. Finally, it is dried and ground to produce a white, odourless, and tasteless powder. This powder is to be dissolved in either cold or hot water before being incorporated into a skincare product to achieve a gel-like texture.
The properties of xanthan gum.
In formulation, xanthan gum is primarily a functional ingredient. Indeed, it is generally added to gel a formula, that is to say, to add consistency to it in order to facilitate its grasp and application on the skin or hair. It can also be added to stabilise an emulsion or suspend particles (exfoliating micro-grains in a scrub, for example).
Xanthan gum is highly valued by formulators as it can be used in both cold and hot conditions, and it produces a transparent gel. Moreover, its gelling power remains stable during temperature changes. It can withstand both freezing and thawing.
Furthermore, xanthan gum also has a moisturising effect on the skin due to its film-forming properties. It forms a film on the skin's surface that limits the evaporation of water, a process known as insensible water loss.
Some information about the regulation.
Xanthan gum does not present any contraindications when applied topically. A 2016 study by the CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) on microbial polysaccharide gums, which includes xanthan gum, demonstrated the safety of the ingredient.
From a legal perspective, this compound is not regulated in Europe. In the United States, the FDA limits its use to 6% of the total ingredients in cosmetics. In Europe, xanthan gum is permitted in organic products.
In which skincare products can one find xanthan gum?
Xanthan gum is found in many cosmetic products, from shampoos to day/night creams, as well as in foundations and sun creams. In typical cream/serum/gel formulas, it is generally introduced at a percentage less than 0.5%. However, in toothpastes, it is usually present at a concentration between 0.7 and 1%, which gives the product its thixotropic character.
Typology has developed numerous gel-based treatments, in part thanks to this natural compound, such as the peeling mask with red fruit acids, the eye serum with caffeine and niacinamide, and also the firming night mask with prickly pear oil.
FIUME M. M. & al. Safety assessment of microbial polysaccharide gums as used in cosmetics.International Journal of Toxicology (2016).
ALHALMI A. & al. Xanthan gum : its biopharmaceutical applications : an overview. World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (2018).