In this post, Oil free moisturizer, Tim asks: I'm thinking of formulating a completely water-based soothing moisturising gel using natural/nature-derived ingredients. So far I'm thinking of Honeyquat for the humectant as well as a marshmallow glycerine extract a bit of extra humectant and as the emollient. The rest of it would be something like a camomile or other soothing hydrosol with additional water added. I'm just wondering what gelling agent/thickener you would suggest to get a similar consistency to the common Aloe vera gels? I'd like to stay clear of Ultrez-21 and other synthetic thickeners.
Aloe vera gels that we buy from our suppliers is not a natural gel. It's aloe vera liquid combined with something to create a gel, like a carbomer or other gelling agent.
Most of the time, aloe vera gel'll have an INCI like this one INCI: Aloe Barbensis Leaf Extract (and) Aqua (and) Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Cross-Polymer (and) Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (from Voyageur Soap & Candle) or Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (and) Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (from The Herbarie). So it's aloe vera liquid and Ultrez 20, a carbomer or gelling agent that I like to use quite a bit, mixed together to make a gel.
You could make a gel with my new favourite gelling ingredient, Sepimax ZEN, as seen in the picture above, which can handle aloe vera and all its electrolytes much better. I promise I'll share more with you about this ingredient shortly. There's just so much to write about and I'm trying to catch up on comments first!
You can find some gels, like this one - INCI: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Sclerotium Gum, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate (from Ingredients to Die For) - that contain other gelling agents, like the sclerotium gum, but there is always a gelling agent in the mix. Otherwise, you're buying aloe vera juice that is a liquid.
As an aside, I've seen "aloe vera gel" sold at some suppliers, but it's very clear that it's a liquid, not a gel. I'm talking about ingredients that are thickened like gels that contain aloe vera.
xanthan gum, sclerotium gum, guar gum, and so on - and I'm not really sure what to suggest to you. It's hard to make any suggestions without knowing your exact ingredient list, so my suggestion is to write up your recipe, get the ingredients, have some fun in your workshop, then record the results. You can do some research beforehand to learn a few things that might conflict, like honeyquat as a cationic with xanthan gum, to save you time and money!
I have to be completely honest with you when I say I haven't found a gum that I like. I have found they feel sticky and a bit snotty on my skin. (I'm not trying to be mean; this is one of the words used to describe xanthan gum). I'm working with guar gum quite a bit lately, which I definitely prefer to xanthan gum, but I'm still not in love with it the way I am with Sepimax ZEN or Sepinov EMT 10. Gels aren't inherently sticky; it's what we add to them that makes them that way. Keep that in mind as you work with the your recipe!
I know my lovely readers will have some suggestions for you, so I'll open the floor to them: What would you suggest for making a gel without using synthetic ingredients for Tim?