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Xanthan gum is a high-molecular polysaccharide. What does that mean? Polysaccharides are formed by joining multiple monosaccharides. Well, that explains everything, doesn’t it?

It is a common food additive, that’s it. It is used as a food thickener or stabilizer, which changes the texture of the food. It is made by fermenting carbohydrates with Xanthomonas campestris bacteria. This bacterium is an important plant pathogen. You can check the ingredients on your toothpaste cover and see xanthan gum listed there.

Xanthan gum on skin also has several benefits. The Handbook of Hydrocolloids in 2021 published a detailed report on xanthan gum (1).

Due to the stable chemical structure of xanthan gum, it is used in food and non-food items. Xanthan gum finds widespread use in cosmetics and is a mainstay in many beauty products. Xanthan gum as a standalone is devoid of any aroma and is non-toxic in nature. The main use of xanthan gum as an ingredient in cosmetic products is to separate the emulsions.

Emulsion based cosmetic products make use of xanthan to speed up the water absorption by the skin. Face creams that make use of xanthan gum are quite popular in the market as the gum improves the absorption of the cream’s ingredients into the skin.

Xanthan gum can also be used as a thickening agent or concentration enhancer of some formulation. It is often used in food and skincare. The CIR expert panel concluded that these ingredients were safe. (CIR looks into the safety of cosmetic products.)

It is a cleanser that creates a smooth texture. Xanthan Gum and Biosaccharide Gum-1 are used in several cosmetics and personal care products good for skin. Xanthan gum has the ability to moisturize the skin. Xanthan gum can also increase the viscosity of a liquid and it thickens the consistency of products. It is also on the list of food additives permitted for direct addition to consumables.

When xanthan gum is mixed with other fluids it creates a stable solution. It also thickens the solution. Hence, xanthan is said to be a thickener and stabilizer. Although the name Xanthan gum sounds alarming, it is just a soluble fiber that does not cause any adverse reactions on consumption. Xanthan gum on the skin has many benefits and is used in skincare.

Roles of Xanthan Gum in Skincare

Xanthan gum plays multiple roles on skincare and skincare products. Here, it functions as a surfactant, binder and emulsion stabilizer. And since it increases the thickness of solutions in cosmetic products, it is used as a viscosity increasing agent.

It is one of the natural products used in thickening solutions including skin care products like lotions, face washes, gels, shampoos and moisturizers. Its skin conditioning and moisturizing properties also makes it a good choice in skin care. By thickening a solution, xanthan gum improves the uniformity of the product.

Benefits of Xanthan Gum on Skin

Xanthan gum is used as an ingredient in many cosmetic products. However, the name xanthan gum may be misconstrued as a synthetic product. It is a natural emulsifying agent, and hence very popular in skin care recipes. It is completely natural or organic as this gum is derived by fermenting soy, wheat and corn.

Cosmetic products generally use from 0.2% to 2% of xanthan gum in them. This small amount of the item gives the product a uniform texture and smoothness, and thus acts as a skin conditioning agent.

A 2022 study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics found that adding xanthan gum in vitamin C-containing flexible liposome suspension increased the absorption rate and it also whitened the skin (2).

Some of the other benefits of xanthan gum for which it finds use in cosmetics are as follows: -

  • Xanthan gum is used for it liquid thickening and emulsion stabilizing properties.
  • It is used in creams, lotions, shampoos and toothpastes as a stabilizing agent.
  • When used in skin care products, xanthan gum thickens its texture because of its skin conditioning abilities.
  • It is mixed with skincare and hair care products as it increases the viscosity of the product.
  • Xanthan gum as a standalone product has its benefits. It is used for reducing the blood sugar levels of diabetes patients; it is a saliva substitute for people with dry mouth; it is used by people with dry eyes, and other bodily ailments. Of course, more research is needed to attest the health-based benefits of this gum.

Uses of Xanthan Gum on Skin Care Products

Xanthan gum is an integral part of many cosmetic skincare products. It can be found in face washes, lotions, creams, gels, soaps, sheet masks and other products. Generally, cosmetic products use 0.2% to 2% of xanthan gum. It is used for its viscous nature which controls the liquid flow in sprays and creams.

This quality also improves the texture of the end product. Better textured products also have a longer shelf life. The gum also binds the other ingredients in the cosmetic products. Let’s have a look at xanthan gum in skincare products.

1. Xanthan Gum as Thickener

One of the intrinsic properties of xanthan gum is that it thickens liquid solutions. It is therefore used in many skincare products as it increases the viscosity of the plethora of ingredients in it. This property is also made use of when it is used as a food additive. (Ever wondered why the thick syrups are so thick?)

Its thickness imparting properties are made use of in toothpastes, ointments, creams, shower gels, lotions, moisturizers etc.

2. Xanthan Gum in Face Washes

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide biomolecule with emulsifier and thickener properties. It is widely used as an ingredient in face washes. Nowadays, with the rise in demand for body washes, the gum is also used in body washes.

Using xanthan gum in these products does not compromise the health benefits of other ingredients in the mix. Also, it thickens the foams in face washes and body washes.

3. Xanthan Gum in Lotions

When used as an ingredient in lotions, xanthan gum gives it a glossy look and fine texture. Lotions are made up of different ingredients including oils with different viscosity. The gum increases the viscosity of the entire fluid. Xanthan gum just comprise of 0.1 to 1 % of the entire solution.

It is a thickener that is used in lotions including body lotions, shampoos and hand sanitizers.

4. Xanthan Gum in Cosmetic Products

By now it should not come as a surprise that xanthan gum is used as an ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetic products. It is used as an emulsifier, binder, thickener and viscosity increasing agent. The cosmetic products get its uniform texture and shiny appearance from xanthan gum.

The cosmetic products are made up of different ingredients with different chemical structures. Xanthan gum binds these ingredients into a cohesive unit.

Safety Of Xanthan Gum on Skin

Xanthan gum is a natural product that is used extensively in food and beverages and in cosmetic products for skincare and hair care. It has a plethora of benefits when used in these products. But, every product that has its good side also has a dark side and xanthan gum is no different.

There are some side effects associated with the use of xanthan gum. Xanthan gum functions smoothly without causing any type of infection or allergy. Some of the adverse reactions caused by xanthan gum are as follows: -

  • Excess consumption of foods with xanthan gum can cause gastrointestinal distress including indigestion and constipation.
  • Using too much of skincare products with xanthan gum can cause allergic reactions.

There are not many side effects caused by the use of this gum and not much has been reported either. More research on the benefits and side effects of xanthan gum is needed.


Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide or poly carbohydrate, which is organic in nature and hence used in the manufacture of skincare and other cosmetic products. It is mostly used as a food additive. It is used as a thickener agent and stabilizer. It is also a binder, which prevents chemical mixtures from separating.

It is used in cosmetics because it also gives the finished product a nice texture (thick gel type) and glossy look. In food items it is found in puddings, certain yogurts, and ice creams. In cosmetics, it is used in shampoos, lotions, face washes and creams, body washes, shower and hair gels, and ointments.

The creams and gels have a shiny and creamy texture because of the thickening and binding properties of xanthan gum. Despite its synthetic sounding name, xanthan gum is natural. Xanthan gum on skin has skin conditioning properties with the ability to trap moisture, thus hydrating the skin. Xanthan gum is an effective ingredient for skincare products.

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