Although xanthan gum isn’t nearly as trendy as retinol or hyaluronic acid in the world of skincare, it still plays an incredibly important role. Xanthan gum, sometimes referred to as corn starch gum, is a sugar-based polymer that is derived from bacteria. It is a natural ingredient that comes from glucose or corn syrup, which is what makes it so popular in the beauty industry. Its key function is as a binder and thickening agent. Continue reading to discover more about xanthan gum, including its skincare benefits and which products you’ll most often find it in.
A little digging into xanthan gum and you’ll quickly discover that the superstar binder is actually in a ton of the beauty products you use. It’s pretty much a staple in the skincare industry at this point. You’ll find it in everything from makeup and skincare to hair care and even toothpaste. The most popular products containing xanthan gum include face masks, serums, facial cleansers, lotions, moisturizers, body washes, and foundations. In order to be added to your favourite skincare products, it is first ground up into a white powder. Only when it comes into contact with water does it turn into a gum-like texture, hence its name.
Where xanthan gum really shines is its ability to increase the viscosity of various cosmetics products. In essence, this ingredient can thicken facial cleansers or serums to enhance their texture and make them easier and more pleasant to apply to your skin. Second, xanthan gum is also a powerful binder, or emulsifier. This means it is able to keep all the different ingredients in a mixture together, even the ones that typically separate like oil and water. Again, this helps to improve the texture of the product, as well as prolong its shelf life. Lastly, a little known fact about xanthan gum is that it is believed to contain hydrating properties that will help your skin better retain moisture.
Luckily, xanthan gum is not known to have any harmful side effects whatsoever. It was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1969 and continues to be safe when applied topically. As the ingredient is natural, it is often used in organic cosmetics products. Further, studies have shown that xanthan gum remains safe even when exposed to a wide range of temperatures and pH balances. This is not the case with other gums, which is yet another reason why xanthan gum is considered safe to use in skincare.