Type of Ingredient: Thickener and emulsifier.
Main Benefits: Combines equally well with both solids and liquids, helps to contribute thickness and fluffiness to a formula.
Who Should Use It: Used in most self-care products such as creams, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, lipsticks, deodorants, face masks, shaving products, ointments, bar soaps, and liquid soaps.
Ideal For These Concerns: Increasing the product's viscosity and extending its shelf life.
How Often Can You Use It: You can use it every day.
What is Guar Gum?
Guar gum is a non-toxic emulsifier that joins to liquids when it's placed in water to form a thick paste. It is an economical thickening agent in the cosmetic industry.
The Benefits of Guar Gum
In cosmetics and personal care products, guar gum functions as a binder, emulsion stabilizer, surfactant-emulsifying agent, and a viscosity increasing agent. As the name implies, a binder is an ingredient that binds together other components. Therefore, as a binder, guar gum works to prevent other elements used in a cosmetic formula from coming apart. For example, binders are often used in pressed powders to keep them together in the container. Since guar gum also functions as an emulsion stabilizer, it is frequently used in products that contain both water and oil ingredients. According to FEMA, when water and oil are mixed and vigorously shaken, a dispersion of oil droplets in water – and vice versa – is formed. When shaking stops, however, the two phases start to separate. To address this problem, an emulsion stabilizer like guar gum can be added to the formula. This allows the droplets to remain dispersed and produces a stable emulsion. It is most commonly used in oil-in-water emulsions to help stabilize the oil droplets against coalescence. As a surfactant-emulsifying agent, guar gum also helps to form emulsions by decreasing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified.
Another common use for guar gum in cosmetics is as a viscosity increasing agent. The term viscosity matches to the concept of “thickness”, for example, honey has a higher viscosity than water. When guar gum is added to water, it creates a gel with a high viscosity. Therefore, as a viscosity-increasing agent, guar gum works to thicken formulations to make a product less runny and easier to spread. Even in concentrations of less than one percent, guar gum can considerably increase the viscosity of liquids it is added to for optimal texture.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes guar gum on its list of food additives permitted for direct addition to food. In cosmetics, it is permitted to be used as a stabilizer, emulsifier, thickener, suspending agent, bodying agent or foam enhancer. According to Dr. Josh Axe, it’s generally agreed upon in the scientific community that it is safe to consume up to 15 grams of guar gum per day.
The demand for natural and safe products has increased the necessity for an organic emulsifier, and guar gum powder meets these demands. This is why The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially included Guar Gum on its list of ingredients which is regarded as ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS). It has been concluded that Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (Guar) is completely safe when used in cosmetic and personal care products.
The safety of guar gum has been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel reviewed the scientific data and concluded that this ingredient is safe as used in cosmetics and personal care products.
According to EWG, guar gum is rated as a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest risk to health and 10 being the highest.
However, some people can have allergies to guar gum since it can be derived from cluster beans. Symptoms are thought to occur only after guar gum is ingested, rather than applied to the skin. "Side effects can also occur if someone experiences an allergic reaction, although this isn’t common. Some studies have also found an allergic sensitivity to guar gum in people with soy allergies and those with very high exposure to guar beans due to working in certain industrial settings. explains Dr. Josh Axe.