Some commonly used surfactants in cosmetic products raise concerns due to their skin-irritating effects and environmental contamination. Multifunctional, high-performance polymers are good alternatives to overcome these problems. In this study, agarose stearate (AS) with emulsifying, thickening, and gel properties was synthesized. Surfactant-free cosmetic formulations were successfully prepared from AS and carbomer940 (CBM940) mixed systems. The correlation of rheological parameter with skin feeling was determined to study the usability of the mixed systems in cosmetics. Based on rheological analysis, the surfactant-free cosmetic cream (SFC) stabilized by AS-carbomer940 showed shear-thinning behavior and strongly synergistic action. The SFC exhibited a gel-like behavior and had rheological properties similar to commercial cosmetic creams. Scanning electron microscope images proved that the AS-CBM940 network played an important role in SFC's stability. Oil content could reinforce the elastic characteristics of the AS-CBM940 matrix. The SFCs showed a good appearance and sensation during and after rubbing into skin. The knowledge gained from this study may be useful for designing surfactant-free cosmetic cream with rheological properties that can be tailored for particular commercial cosmetic applications. They may also be useful for producing medicine products with highly viscous or gel-like textures, such as some ointments and wound dressings.
Keywords: agarose stearate; carbomer940; rheological behavior; sensory evaluation; surfactant-free cosmetics.