What is the Difference Between Carbomer and Carbopol

The main difference between carbomer and Carbopol is that carbomer is a generic name used to refer to any polymer derived from acrylic acid, whereas Carbopol is a trademark name owned by the Lubrizol Corporation for a specific type of carbomer.

Polymers are synthetic or natural substances containing very large molecules called macromolecules. They are made up of simpler chemical units called monomers. Moreover, these monomers repeat in the structure of the polymer. In fact, there are many uses for polymers in the industry and daily life. Carbomer and Carbopol are both polymers that belong to the same family of synthetic high molecular weight polymers: polyacrylic acid.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is a Carbomer
      – Definition, Composition, Features
2. What is a Carbopol
      – Definition, Composition, Features
3.  Difference Between Carbomer and Carbopol
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Carbomer, Carbopol

Difference Between Carbomer and Carbopol - Comparison Summary

What is a Carbomer

Carbomer is a generic name used to describe a family of polymers that are crosslinked with a poly alkenyl ether. They are acrylic polymers. These crosslinks give carbomer its unique properties of high viscosity and excellent thixotropic nature. These polymers have grades such as Carbomer 934, carbomer 940, and carbomer 941. The variations in these different types of carbomers are due to molecular weight, crosslinking, viscosity, and density. Carbomer is a synthetic polymer. It is a fluffy white powder that is soluble in water. Moreover, this compound forms a viscous gel when mixed with water absorbing a large amount of water.

Carbomers are widely useful in industries such as the pharmaceutical industry and cosmetics. In the cosmetic industry, carbomer is useful as a thickening agent in lotions, creams, shampoos, cuticle removers, facemasks, styling gel and sunscreen, lipstick, paints, floor cleaners, and gels. They are also useful as artificial tears. Carbomers help to improve the texture since it has the ability to absorb water and retail it. It enhances the appearance of formulations. It also helps in the stabilization of formulations as it helps suspend and distribute insoluble solids. In addition, they prevent oil and liquid parts of a formulation from separating.

There are many uses of carbomer in the pharmaceutical industry. Some of these include its use as a bioavailability enhancer and as a bioadhesive to create a wide range of viscosity and flow in gels and to suspend certain ingredients permanently in oral suspensions and topical medications.

What is Carbopol

Carbopol is a trademark of the Lubrizol Corporation. They are a series of crosslinked acrylic acid polymers that are commonly used as a thickening, stabilizing, and suspending agents. They are useful in the pharmaceutical industry, cosmetics, and personal care products.

The ability of Carbopol to quickly absorb large amounts of water and form a gel-like substance makes it an excellent thickening agent. This property is useful in topical gels and creams, where it can increase the viscosity and consistency of the formulation, allowing it to adhere better to the skin and provide long-lasting events. It is also useful in pharmaceutical products as rheology modifiers, suspension stabilizers, extended-release polymers, mucoadhesive aids, and bioavailability enhancers.

Compare Carbomer and Carbopol - What's the difference?

These gel-forming polymers are different from each other depending on their chemical cross-linking. Hence, they have various groups as follows: cabopol homopolymers,(acrylic acid crosslinked with aryl sucrose or allyl pentaerythritol), Carbopol copolymers (C10-C30 alkyl acrylate crosslinked with allyl pentaerythritol and acrylic acid), and Carbopol interpolymers (carbomer homopolymer or copolymer that has a long chain alkyl acid ester and a block copolymer of polyethylene glycol).

There are different grades of Carbopol, depending on both molecular weight and their degree of crosslinking. Among them, the most common grades are Carbopol 940 and Carbopol 980.

Furthermore, Carbopol polymers are useful as stabilizing agents in emulsions, preventing the separation of oil and water-based ingredients. This also makes it an essential ingredient in many lotions, ointments, and creams, which requires a uniform texture.

Difference Between Carbomer and Carbopol


Carbomer is a generic name that refers to any polymer derived from acrylic acid, whereas Carbopol is a trademark owned by Lubrizol Corporation for a specific type of carbomer.

Chemical Composition

Carbomers can be crosslinked to varying degrees depending on the specific types, whereas Carbopol is a lightly crosslinked polyacrylic acid polymer.


In brief, carbomer and Carbopol are two types of polymers. The main difference between carbomer and Carbopol is that carbomer is a generic name that refers to any polymer that originates from acrylic acid, whereas Carbopol is a trademark the Lubrizol Corporation owns for a specific type of carbomer.


1. “Carbopol® Polymer Products.” Lubrizol Pharmaceuticals.
2. Caldwell, Amanda. “What are carbomers?” Medical News Today.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Carbopol Sample” By CMetz18 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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