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If you ever wanted to thicken an oil blend, or suspend something in an oil blend,or reduce synerisis, then you might consider working with TKB's Thickening Clay (Quaternium-90 Sepiolite (and) Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite).

This vegan clay is added to your oil phase or oil-based products.  Its primary use is as a "Rheological Additive", which means that it makes things thicker. It is also a "Thixotropic" thickener.  This means that while a finished product is thick "in the bottle" if you give it a few good shakes then the product becomes more flowy. 


An example of this in action is TKB's Unicorn Highlighters.   The highlighting mica powder is kept in suspension by the Thickening Clay.  While it sits on the shelf, the mica powder stays suspended in the thick liquid.  But when the user gives the product a few good shakes of the bottle before application, they end up with a lightweight highligher that is easily applied. That is what a "thixotropic" thickener does.

Here is our recipe for our Unicorn Highlighting Base that you can try:

Grams Ingredient Percent
3.2 Grapeseed Oil 34%
5.6 Cyclopentasiloxane 60%
0.45 TKB Thickening Clay 5%
Fragrance > 1 gr for 900 gr batch
0.1 Preservative Cap 2 1%
Once you mix this together, blend about 2 parts liquid base with 1 part mica powder.  Be sure to mix everything a moderate shear for about 10 minutes before bottling.


Another use for TKB Thickening Clay is that it is to help stop syneresis.  Syneresis is what happens when the ingredients of a lipstick don't combine well (usually the waxes and oils) and you get something that looks like sweating or beads of oil on your lipsticks.  If you have this problem in your formula, consider adding the Thickening Clay at about 1% of the formula.  

Let's talk about why TKB Thickening Clay is uniquely suited to your projects in a way that regular clay is not.

As you can imagine, your run-of-the-mill facial clay mixes readily and easily with water (think: Clay Mask).  Have you ever tried adding it to an oil?  Most clays won't blend with an oil easily.  In fact, the only way to get them mixed in is to use heat, high shear mixing and a polar activator such as propylene carbonate.

TKB's Thickening Clay is different.  It LOVES low and medium polar oils such as dimethicone, mineral oil, and isododecane.  It also loves natural oils such as castor oil.  No heat, high shear mixing or polar activator required.  Just add about 1 - 3% by weight of Thickening Clay to the formula and give it some moderate stirring/shaking for 10 minutes and . . .  Thixotropic Rheology: Activated!


In this photo, you can see the Clay in Isodedecane after it has been shaken for 10 minutes on the far left.  In the middle is the Clay in Isododecane with no shaking (just a quick stir).  This shows how the shaking really does make a difference.  On the right is regular normal clay, with shaking, still blends poorly and settles out.

One reason for its special ability to blend into oil is its physical structure.  Under a microscope, TKB's Thickening Clay looks like little pretzel shapes.  It combines flat forms with upright rod forms, leaving lots of free space in between.  All that extra airspace just invites and embraces the oils in one giant rheological hug. 


Now, having said that, the product will still separate if it is in a very thin viscosity liquid (even with that good 10 minute shake) and as well it will perform better in some oils than others. 

Here is a photo of the clay in three liquids, after settling for 2 weeks.  From Left to right: 1) Dimethicone 1.5 (viscosity of 1.5 cst), 2) Isododecane (viscosity of 1.65 cst), 3) Castor Oil (super thick).   


Long story short?

  • Very easy to stir or shake in
  • Good at keeping things in suspension
  • Good at helping to avoid syneresis
  • If you are making an aerosol spray, this might help keep things flowing.
  • Helps cosmetics flow more easily
  • Gives a light skin feel to your products

Quick Guidelines on use:

  • Add to low to medium polar systems
  • Use 1 - 3% by weight as a starting point in formulating
  • Mix with moderate shear for about 10 minutes at any point in the formulation

Now that you have some ideas about what you can use this product for, maybe you want to try some experiments?  Can you think of projects you are working on where TKB's Thickening Clay might be a good additive?  I can!  While I haven't tried it, you might also consider adding it to your Matte Liquid Lipstick formula to make the base more creamy and thick

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Desiree - September 1, 2018

I can’t wait to try making some concoctions of my own. The only problem is TKB has soooo many products to choose from I don’t know where to start lol. Stay tuned for more….. :•)

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