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In the personal care products market, where innovation and change are hallmarks of existence, it is difficult to name specialized formulation ingredients which are more ubiquitous or so consistently used as the carbomer resins. Carbomer resins are approaching forty years of use in personal care products since the introduction of carbomer 934(*) in 1953. These high-molecular-weight, crosslinked poly (acrylic acid) polymers are widely used as thickeners, suspending agents and emulsion stabilizers for a variety of products for skin, hair and oral care. Carbomers deliver specific, value-added benefits to water-based personal care products. These benefits include:
* specific texture and flow control
* highly effective o/w emulsion stabilization
* permanent suspension of insoluble or immiscible
Most importantly, these attributes are delivered with cosmetic elegance and extremely high efficiency (0.1-0.6% represent typical use levels). Carbomer resins have been the thickeners and stabilizers of choice for emulsions, and their imparted high clarity and unique textures have led the way in the evolution of the gel product form.
The unique properties of carbomer resins stem largely from molecular morphology: the size and shape of carbomer molecules define the rheological characteristics conveyed by a particular carbomer resin. These and other morphological characteristics, in turn, are greatly dependent upon the choice of solvent used in the polymerization of carbomer resins.
Harold P. Brown of the BF Goodrich Company is credited with the invention of the original carbomer resins. US patent 2,798,053 was issued for the first carbomers on July 2, 1957. Other research scientists have since made large contributions to a growing body of polymer technology, resulting in the introduction of various grades of resins which offer a choice of rheological and aesthetic characteristics. In all of these polymerizations, the solvent used plays a key role in the production of high-performance carbomer resins.