As demand for eco-friendly personal care products continues to grow, Cargill is completing its portfolio of carrageenans with the addition of Satiagel™ VPC614, a kappa carrageenan specifically suited for high gelling applications and solid formulations. Nature-derived and fully biodegradable, Cargill’s kappa carrageenan combines performance, versatility and sustainable sourcing.

Obtained from red seaweed, kappa carrageenan forms solid, brittle gels when used alone, making it perfect for face sheet masks and solid skincare solutions. However, blending the new ingredient with Cargill’s existing iota and lambda carrageenan grades opens the door to even greater sensory exploration, enabling brands to form original and inspirational textures, from textured waters to solid gels.

“Carrageenans have so much to offer formulators, especially when used in combination,” said Jean-Noel Ollagnier, R&D Manager, Applications for Cargill Beauty. “Now with all three carrageenans in our portfolio, we can help brands create seemingly unlimited sensory experiences, drawing on their unique textures, viscosities, gelling and thickening properties to create personal care products truly inspired by nature.”

This expanded versatility enables formulators to incorporate carrageenans into a wide array of products, including serums, emulsions, creams, lotions, bodywashes, shampoos and hair-styling gels, as well as toothpaste and mouthwash. Equally important, the botanically sourced ingredients align with consumer desires for more natural cosmetic products with cleaner labels. All three carrageenan ranges have the same INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic ingredient) reference, helping personal care manufacturers minimize the number of ingredients listed on product labels.

In developing the new kappa line, Cargill Beauty researchers leveraged the company’s half century of experience with carrageenan, drawing on its manufacturing and formulation expertise, as well as its commitment to responsible seaweed sourcing. Toward that end, Cargill launched its Red Seaweed Promise™ in 2018.  This industry-leading program works to address key challenges in producing and harvesting red seaweeds in close partnerships with farmers. It supports seaweed producers’ prosperity by providing the training, coaching and tools they need to adopt environmental production best practices, supporting sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems.

“It’s no longer enough to create products that perform – today’s eco-conscious consumers are drawn to options they view as simple, natural and sustainable, too,” Ollagnier said. “Our comprehensive carrageenan line helps make it possible for brands to deliver on all these counts.”

Deeper Structural Understanding

To better understand the possibilities afforded by Cargill’s comprehensive portfolio, Ollagnier advises formulators to consider each ingredient’s chemistry. While carrageenans are all linear sulfated polysaccharides, the three main types – kappa, iota and lambda – bring unique texturizing qualities, determined by their distinct molecular structure.

Cargill’s new entry, kappa carrageenan, is a gelling agent with one sulfate unit for two sugar units. It requires high temperatures – 60-70°C – to disperse in water, where it forms an ecliptic, three-dimensional network. Adding salt, most often potassium ions, partially neutralizes its sulfate groups, enabling its double helixes to cluster together and form aggregates that create strong, brittle gels with a short texture. These gels are thermoreversible and do not exhibit thixotropic behavior.

Iota carrageenan is another gelling agent, with two sulfate units for two sugar units. It disperses in water heated to 60-70°C, forming a gel with a porous, elastic network. Adding salt, most often calcium ions, strengthens this structure, increasing viscosity. However, with twice as many sulfate units as kappa carrageenan, this network is less dense, creating softer, more elastic gels. It also exhibits thixotropic behavior, thinning under shear, but quickly returning to a more viscous state once the mechanical stress is removed.

Lambda carrageenan, with three sulfate units for two sugar units, acts as a thickener. It is the only carrageenan that is soluble in cold water, making it well suited for personal care applications where no heat processing is desired. Its high number of sulfates prevent the formation of a three-dimensional network. Instead, this carrageenan serves as a thickener, creating viscous solutions that are not impacted by salt addition. Its shear rheological profile makes it easy to apply and provides a fresh sensory feeling on the skin.

To showcase how brands can leverage combinations of these botanically sourced texturizers, Cargill Beauty’s formulation team crafted a series of prototypes featuring the now-complete carrageenan line. Using blends of kappa, iota and lambda carrageenan, the researchers created creams that feel like a cushion to the finger but melt when spread on the skin; solid, transparent shower jellies that melt on the skin when exposed to hot water; and smooth, pumpable serums with easily breakable structures for a fresh, watery application.

About Cargill
Cargill’s 155,000 employees across 70 countries work relentlessly to achieve our purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. Every day, we connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive. We combine 155 years of experience with new technologies and insights to serve as a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries. Side-by-side, we are building a stronger, sustainable future for agriculture.

About Cargill Beauty
Cargill Beauty, Cargill’s personal care platform, addresses ingredient challenges for the cosmetic market by unleashing nature sustainably. Cargill Beauty offers a diverse portfolio of nature-derived ingredients, an integrated and responsible supply chain, state of the art research and application services and endless possibilities for the future. Cargill Beauty’s portfolio is composed of texturizers, emollients, emulsifiers, sensory enhancers and active ingredients to develop nature-based products for skin care, hair care, color care and oral care.

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