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Rating Ingredient
Good

maltooligosyl glucoside

A carbohydrate polysaccharide that’s naturally-derived and then combined...

Good

acacia senegal gum

Herb that can have skin soothing properties, but is used primarily as a thickening agent.

Good

acetyl glyceryl ricinoleate

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

acetylated castor oil

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

acetylated hydrogenated cottonseed glyceride

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

acetylated palm kernel glycerides

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

acrylate

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

acrylates copolymer

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer

A synthetic ingredient used to enhance the texture of skincare and haircare products.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

acrylates/dimethicone copolymer

A silicone-enhanced film-forming agent. Also functions as a binding agent so products adhere better...

Good

acrylates/steareth-20 methacrylate copolymer

A synthetic polymer that blends stearth-20 with one or more forms of methacrylic acid. Functions as...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate

Can be extracted from chamomile or derived synthetically. It is an skin-soothing ingredient.

Good

bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane

A synthetic skin conditioning agent and surfactant belonging to the chemical class of siloxanes and...

Good

bis-phenylpropyl dimethicone

A synthetic, colorless, silicone-based polymer that...

Average

bismuth oxychloride

Also known as synthetic pearl, it’s the primary ingredient included in most powders that are referred to as...

Good

butyl acetate

Solvent used in nail polish and many other products.

Good

butylene glycol

Commonly-used ingredient that has multiple functions in cosmetics, including....

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

C12-15 alkyl benzoate

Synthetic ingredient used as an emollient and texture enhancing agent in cosmetics.

Good

C12-18 acid triglyceride

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

C13-14 isoparaffin

A petroleum-derived ingredient whose wax-like texture functions as a thickening or gelling agent.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

C18-36 acid triglyceride

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

adipic acid/neopentyl glycol/trimellitic anhydride copolymer

A synthetic polymer.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

agar

Good

Ahnfeltia concinna extract

Good

ahnfeltia extract

Good

Alaria esculenta

Poor

albumin

Found in egg white, and can leave a film over skin. It can constrict skin temporarily, which can...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

algae

Algae are very simple, chlorophyll-containing organisms in a family that includes more than 20,000...

Good

algae extract

Good

algin

Brown algae.

Average

alkyloamides

Identified on skin-care product labels as DEA, triethanolamine (TEA), and monoethanolamine (MEA),...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

allyl methacrylates crosspolymer

A synthetic, non-aqueous polymer whose chief function is film-forming agent.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

Althaea rosea

Good

alumina

Aluminum oxide, which is used as an abrasive, a thickening agent, and an absorbent in cosmetics.

Good

Aluminum hydroxide

A synthetic ingredient that functions as an opacifying agent. Secondary uses...

Good

aluminum starch octenylsuccinate

Powdery thickening agent, absorbent, and anticaking agent used in cosmetics.

Good

aluminum stearate

The aluminum salt of stearic acid that functions as a thickening agent and helps stabilize products.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer

A synthetic polymer and film-forming agent that also serves to thicken cosmetic formulas...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

amodimethicone

Good

Anacystis nidulans extract

Good

arachidic acid

Derived from peanut oil and used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

arachidyl alcohol

Waxy substance used as a thickening agent and emollient in cosmetics.

Good

arachidyl propionate

Waxy substance used as a thickening agent and emollient in cosmetics.

Average

arrowroot

Thickening agent; it has no known benefit for skin.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

artemia extract

Good

Ascophyllum nodosum

Species of seaweed.

Best

ascorbyl methylsilanol pectinate

Form of vitamin C that is considered stable and that functions as an antioxidant and thickening...

Good

Asparagopsis armata extract

Extract derived from seaweed.

Good

beeswax

Substance made by bees to build the walls of their honeycomb. It is a thickening agent that has...

Good

behenic acid

Fatty acid used as a thickening agent and surfactant.

Good

behentrimonium chloride

Skin-conditioning agent and emulsifier.

Good

behenyl alcohol

Thickening agent used in cosmetics. It is not related to irritating forms of alcohol.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

candelilla wax

Extract derived from candelilla plants; used as a thickening agent and emollient to give products...

Best

caprylic/capric triglyceride

Derived from coconut oil and glycerin, it’s considered an excellent emollient and skin-replenishing ingredient.

Good

carbomer

Group of thickening agents used primarily to create gel-like formulations.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

carbopol

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

carnauba wax

Natural, hard wax obtained from the leaves of palm trees. Used primarily as a thickening agent, but...

Good

carrageenan

Seaweed gum used in cosmetics as a thickening agent with water-binding properties.

Good

Caulerpa taxifolia extract

Good

cellulose

Primary fiber component of plants. Used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and to bind other...

Good

Cellulose gum

Any of various fibrous substances derived from plants. Cellulose gum is a natural ingredient..

Best

cephalin

Phospholipid.

Good

Cera alba

See beeswax...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

disodium glyceryl phosphate

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

docosahexaenoic acid

Average

ethyl hexanediol

A synthetic, viscous alcohol that functions as a solvent and can also be...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

ethylhexyl palmitate

A mixture of a fatty alcohol and palmitic acid that functions as an emollient.

Good

ethylhexyl stearate

Good

Euphorbia cerifera wax

Best

fatty acid

Substance typically found in plant and animal lipids (fat). Fatty acids include compounds such as...

Good

fatty alcohol

Made from fatty acids; fatty alcohols are used in cosmetics as thickening agents and emollients....

Good

ceresin

Derived from clay, ceresin is a waxy ingredient used as a thickening agent in cosmetics. It can be...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

ceteareth-20

Fatty alcohol that is used to thicken cosmetics and keep ingredients mixed together and stable.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

cetearyl alcohol

Fatty alcohol used as an emollient, emulsifier, thickener, and carrying agent for other...

Good

cetearyl ethylhexanoate

Oil-like liquid that functions as an emollient to prevent skin from losing moisture. Also...

Good

cetearyl glucoside

A blend of cetearyl alcohol and glucose that functions as an emulsifier.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

cetearyl octanoate

Good

cetyl esters

Synthetic wax used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and emollient.

Good

cetyl hydroxyethylcellulose

A mixture of cetyl alcohol and Hydroxyethylcellulose. It functions as thickener and stabilizing...

Good

cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1-dimethicone

Silicone that functions as a skin-conditioning agent and emulsifier.

Good

chlorella

Good

Chondrus crispus

Form of red seaweed.

Average

cocamide DEA and MEA

Both cocamide DEA (diethanolamine) and MEA (monoethanolamine) are widely used ingredients to thicken the water phase of cosmetics, keep ingredients blended, and boost foaming properties...

Good

cocoglycerides

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

Codium tomentosum extract

Good

Copernicia cerifera wax

Good

Corallina officinalis extract

Good

Cyamopsis tetragonoloba

Good

DEA oleth-10 phosphate

Used as an emulsifying agent, which is a group of ingredients essential to most cosmetic...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

dextrin

Carbohydrate that is classified as a polysaccharide. It is used as an adhesive when mixed with...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

di-PPG-3 myristyl ether adipate

Derivative of myristyl alcohol (a fatty alcohol) and adipic acid (a buffering and neutralizing...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

diisopropyl adipate

Used as a film-forming agent, emollient, and skin-conditioning agent.

Good

dimer dilinoleyl dimer dilinoleate

A mixture of fatty acids and a fatty alcohol. This synthetic ingredient...

Good

dimethicone crosspolymer

Silicone derivative used as a stabilizing or suspending agent or as a thickener.

Good

dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

Good

dipentaerythrityl hexacaprylate/hexacaprate

Mixture of fatty acids used as an emollient and thickening agent.

Good

dipropylene glycol

A synthetic slip agent and texture enhancer.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

disodium diglyceryl phosphate

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

gellan gum

A plant-derived, high-weight, polysaccharide texture enhancer that also...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

glyceryl polymethacrylate

A blend of glycerin and polymethacrylic acid that functions as a film-forming agent. It has a...

Good

isododecane

Hydrocarbon ingredient used as a solvent. Isododecane enhances the spreadability of products and...

Good

isohexadecane

Used as a detergent cleansing agent, emulsifier, and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

isoparaffin

Good

isopropyl lanolate

Derived from lanolin, it is used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and emollient.

Good

isopropyl myristate

Texture enhancer and emollient as used in cosmetics.

Good

isopropyl palmitate

Texture enhancer and emollient as used in cosmetics. It can potentially be...

Good

isopropyl titanium triisostearate

A synthetic or animal-derived ingredient used as a surface treatment for cosmetic pigments...

Good

isopropyl titanium triisostearte/triethoxycaprylylsilane crosspolymer

A synthetic, silicone-enhanced polymer that occurs from combining isopropyl titanium triisostearate...

Good

isostearamide DEA

Used as a surfactant, water-binding agent, and thickening agent.

Good

isostearic acid

Fatty acid used as a binding agent and thickener.

Good

Japan wax

Vegetable wax obtained from sumac berries, and used as a thickening agent and emollient in...

Good

Laminaria digitata

Good

Laminaria longicruris

Good

laureth-23

Derived from lauryl alcohol and used either as a surfactant or emulsifier (or, in many cases, as...

Good

laureth-4

Derived from lauryl alcohol and used either as a surfactant or emulsifier (or, in many cases, as...

Good

lauryl PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone

A silicone polymer that has multiple functions in cosmetic products, including skin/hair...

Good

guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride

Good

gums

Substances that have water-binding properties, but that are used primarily as thickening agents in...

Good

Haslea ostrearia extract

Extract derived from a water plant also known as blue algae. In pure concentrations this extract...

Good

hydrogenated coco-glyceride

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

hydrogenated didecene

Skin-conditioning agent derived from didecene, which is a hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbons are organic...

Good

hydrogenated vegetable glycerides citrate

A hydrogenated blend of vegetable glycerides that functions chiefly as an emollient and emulsifier in cosmetics...

Good

hydrolyzed wheat protein

Protein fraction from wheat that has been hydrolyzed, which is a chemical process involving the...

Good

hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyl dimethyl taurate copolymer

A polymer that functions as a stabilizer, thickening agent, and opacifying agent.

Good

hydroxyethylcellulose

Plant-derived thickening agent typically used as a binding agent or emulsifier. Also used (most...

Good

Irish moss extract

Type of red algae.

Good

lithium magnesium sodium silicate

Synthetic silica-based clay composed of lithium, sodium, and magnesium. Used as a thickening agent...

Good

locust bean

Good

magnesium stearate

Used as a thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

magnesium sulfate

Commonly known as Epsom salt, a magnesium salt used as a texture enhancer.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

pectin

Natural substance found in plants, especially apples, and used in cosmetics as an emulsifier and...

Good

PEG-150 distearate

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

PEG-32

Peg-32 also functions as an emulsifier, which is a type of ingredient that keeps unlike substances...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil

Emollient ingredient that is a mixture of polyethylene glycol (PEG) with castor oil.

Good

pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate

A non-aqueous ester that functions as a thickener and binding agent...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

pentaerythrityl tetraoctanoate

Synthetic compound as an emollient and thickening agent.

Good

pentylene glycol

A synthetic skin-replenishing agent and solvent.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Average

plasticizing agents

Ingredients that place a thin layer of plastic over the skin. Typically these are used in facial...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polyacrylamide

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polyacrylate-17

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Best

mallow

Can be used as a texture enhancer in cosmetics and may have soothing...

Best

marshmallow

A flowering plant native to Africa that has soothing effects...

Good

Mastocarpus stellatus

Good

methylsilanol mannuronate

Good

methylsilanol PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate

A glyceryl ester used as an emollient and texture enhancer in cosmetics.

Good

microcrystalline wax

Plastic-type, highly refined wax derived from petroleum. Used as a thickener and to give products a...

Good

Microcystis aeruginosa

Latin name for spirulina.

Good

montan wax

A type of natural wax derived from lignite, which is a type of coal that’s made from wood. Most...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

myristyl myristate

Used in cosmetics as a texture enhancer and emollient.

Good

neopentyl glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate

Used as an emollient and texture enhancer.

Good

neopentyl glycol diheptanoate

Mixture of texture-enhancing ingredient neopentyl glycol and grape-derived fatty acid heptanoic acid...

Good

nylon-12

Powder substance that is used as an absorbent and texture enhancer...

Good

octyl palmitate

Used in cosmetics as a texture enhancer and emollient.

Good

octyl stearate

Used in cosmetics as a texture enhancer and emollient.

Good

octyldodecanol

Opacifying agent, used primarily as a texture enhancer in moisturizers because of its lubricating and emollient properties.

Good

octyldodecyl myristate

Mixture of octyldodecanol (thickener) and myristic acid that forms a new compound used as a...

Good

oleic acid

Fatty acid used as a cleansing agent and texture enhancer.

Good

oleth-10

A form of fatty alcohol that functions as a texture enhancer and cleansing agent.

Good

ozokerite

Mineral that is used as a texture enhancer in cosmetics, especially in lipsticks and stick...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

paraffin

Waxy, petroleum-based substance used as a thickener in cosmetics.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polybutene

Polymer derived from mineral oil and used as a thickener and lubricant.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polyethylene glycol

Also listed as PEG on ingredient labels, polyethylene glycol is an ingredient that self-proclaimed...

Good

polyglucuronic acid

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polyglycerol monostearate

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

polyglyceryl 2 triisostearate

A mixture of the fatty acid Isostearic acid and a form of glycerin that functions as a...

Good

polyglyceryl-3 beeswax

The ester of fatty acids from beeswax and polyglycerin-3 that functions as a surfactant and...

Good

polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate

Good

polyglyceryl methacrylate

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polyisobutene

A polymer of the hydrocarbon isobutylene obtained from petroleum oil. It functions as a thickening...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polymethylsilsesquioxane

A polymer formed from the condensation and hydrolysis of the silicone methyltrimethoxysilane.

Good

polyquaternium-10

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polyquaterniums

Group of ingredients used primarily in hair-care products for their antistatic and film-forming...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polysilicone-11

Specialized, synthetic crosslinked siloxane that functions as a film-forming agent and polymer.

Average

polyvinyl alcohol

A synthetic polymer of vinyl alcohol that functions in cosmetics as a gel-based thickener, film-forming, and binding agent.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

polyvinylpyrrolidone

Usually listed on ingredient labels as PVP or PVP copolymer, it is one of the primary ingredients...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

PPG-12 buteth-16

Versatile ingredient composed of several non-volatile alcohols. Functions as a skin-conditioning...

Good

PPG-12/SMDI copolymer

A copolymer that serves as a film-forming agent...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

PPG-2 myristyl ether propionate

Mixture of glycols and fatty alcohols used as a skin-conditioning agent and, in some cases, as a...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

propylene carbonate

Liquid used as a solvent and film-forming agent.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

propylene glycol

Along with other glycols and glycerol, propylene glycol is a humectant (hydrating) and delivery ingredient...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

propylene glycol isostearate

A mixture of propylene glycol and isostearic acid. See both. This ingredient is used as an...

Good

propylene glycol stearate

Mixture of propylene glycol and stearic acid used as a skin-conditioning agent and emulsifier.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

pullulan

Glucan gum produced by black yeast that contains polysaccharides, which makes it a good...

Best

pumpkin seed extract

Type of squash that is a very good source of antioxidant cartenoids. Pumpkin seed oil and extract...

Good

PVM/MA decadiene crosspolymer

Synthetic polymer used as a film-forming and thickening agent.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

PVP

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

PVP copolymer

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

PVP/dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate

Polymer formed from PVP (polyvinylpyrrolidone) and the film-forming agent dimethylaminomethacrylate.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Poor

Pyrus cydonia

Good

Pyrus malus (apple) fruit extract

Species of apple; the pectin derived from it is used as a thickener in cosmetics.

Good

quaternium-18 hectorite

Used as a suspending agent and also has emulsifying properties.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Poor

quince seed

Used as a thickening agent in cosmetics, but also has skin-constricting properties...

Good

Solanum tuberosum extract

Extract that is more commonly known as potato starch. Used as a thickening agent and texture enhancer in cosmetics.

Good

stearyl stearate

A plant-based wax prepared with natural fatty acids combined with synthetic fatty alcohols.

Good

synthetic wax

A wax derived from a mixture of various oils. It functions as a binding and stabilizing agent.

Good

red algae

Good

ricinoleate

Glyceryl triester used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and emollient.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

tragacanth

Natural gum used as a thickener in cosmetics.

Good

tridecyl trimellitate

Used as a skin-conditioning agent and thickening agent. 

Good

vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer

Blend of silicone polymers that functions as a thickening agent and texture enhancer.

Good

VP/hexadecene copolymer

Synthetic polymer.

Good

wheat germ glycerides

Used as emollient and texture enhancer in cosmetics.

Good

xanthan gum

Used as a thickening agent.

Good

xylitol

Good

zinc stearate

The zinc salt of stearic acid. It has multiple functions in cosmetics, including serving as the...

Good

methyl gluceth-20 benzoate

A synthetic ester and emollient used to improve product spreadability. Methyl...

Good

tapioca starch

A natural thickener and texture enhancer derived from the roots of Manihot...

Good

polyacrylate crosspolymer

A synthetic polymer that functions to protect skin's surface, thicken products, and help keep cosmetic...

Good

capryloyl glycerin/sebacic acid copolymer

A naturally-derived (coconut and castor oil) or synthetic ingredient...

Good

ceteareth-25

A fatty alcohol that functions as an emulsifier and surfactant in cosmetics.

Best

diheptyl succinate

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Best

glyceryl behenate

An ester emollient of fatty acid behenic acid...

Best

lauryl laurate

An ester of lauryl alcohol and lauric acid...

Good

sodium stearoyl lactylate

A synthetic or animal-derived ingredient...

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!