Fun with thickeners!

I had a great meeting today with a chemist and sales rep from a supplier. They brought along a bunch of product demos, which I love! It really gives me a good idea of what can be achieved with the ingredients. I wish more sample formulas came with photos or videos of the final formulation.

I’ve heard that master chefs can imagine the tastes of meals, unfortunately I can’t quite do that with molecules – maybe one day!

These are two samples they brought that really struck my eye


The first you might recognize, as they were very popular in 2013. Clarins released a limited set of these crystal jelly lip balms and they were all over YouTube and beauty blogs.

There are a few different ways to achieve lipid gels, one of the easier methods is to use a starch that has been attached to a fatty acid molecule. This lets them dissolve into the fat and provide structure – as well as clarity.

Sucrose based emulsifiers are another way, but they have a thicker and stickier texture – which isn’t always desired.


This sample was described as having an ice-like texture. When you stir it, it crumbles – kind of like Jell-O. After sitting for a few minutes though it smooths out.

This one uses carbomer and hydrogen bonding with glycerin to create the crunchy texture.

Carbomer does have some environmental concerns as it doesn’t biodegrade easily, but it is very safe and non-irritating to the skin.

It can create a range of beautiful, elegant, and interesting textures – that as of now, natural thickeners can’t.

By the way, I’ll be in New York on Wednesday

Kerry of SkinandTonics and Coco of TheBeautyWolf are signing copies of their new book, Korean Beauty Secrets, and I’ll be hanging out with them.

Tickets are still available. The book signing is at Club Clio between 5pm and 8pm – with a karaoke party to follow.

Club Clio is also offering 50% off the entire store during the event!

Please stop by if you’re in the New York City area!