Gellan Gum: What Is It, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: May 9, 2023
Table of Contents

Imagine this: You’re standing in the beauty aisle, squinting at the tiny print on your favorite cosmetic product’s packaging, trying to decipher the cryptic list of ingredients. It can feel like you’re attempting to crack a secret code. You’re not alone in this. Many of us feel overwhelmed when trying to make sense of the mystery that is the ingredients list on cosmetic products.

One ingredient that might have caught your eye is Gellan Gum. You may have wondered what it is, what it does, and whether it’s something you should be concerned about. Fear not, intrepid beauty explorer, because this article is here to help. We’ll take an in-depth look at Gellan Gum, its cosmetic uses, and any potential side effects.

What is Gellan Gum?

Gellan Gum, also known as E418, deacetylated gellan gum, or gellan, is a naturally occurring polysaccharide that is produced by the bacterium Sphingomonas elodea. In the world of cosmetics, Gellan Gum serves as a film-forming and viscosity controlling agent. It works by creating a protective barrier on the skin or hair, helping to lock in moisture and other active ingredients. Additionally, it helps to provide a smooth and consistent texture to cosmetic products, making them more enjoyable to use.

Gellan Gum is typically found as part of a wider formulation of ingredients within cosmetic products. However, it can also be purchased as a stand-alone ingredient for those who prefer to create their own skincare concoctions. The concentration of Gellan Gum in cosmetic products can vary, but it is generally used in small amounts, as it is highly effective even at low levels.

Who Can Use Gellan Gum?

Gellan Gum is a versatile ingredient that is suitable for various skin types, including sensitive, oily, dry, and combination skin. Due to its gentle nature and low risk of causing irritation, it can be a beneficial addition to a wide range of cosmetic products for different individuals.

As for vegans and vegetarians, Gellan Gum is an appropriate choice as it is derived from a bacterial source rather than an animal source. This makes it a cruelty-free and plant-based ingredient that aligns with the values of those who adhere to vegan or vegetarian lifestyles.

Gellan Gum’s Cosmetic Benefits

Gellan Gum offers a variety of benefits in cosmetic products, thanks to its unique properties as a film-forming and viscosity-controlling agent. Here, we elaborate on these benefits in detail:

  • Moisture Retention: Gellan Gum forms a thin, protective film on the skin or hair when applied. This barrier helps to lock in moisture, preventing it from evaporating and leaving the skin or hair dry. The result is a hydrated, supple, and healthy appearance.
  • Enhanced Product Efficacy: The film-forming property of Gellan Gum also aids in delivering active ingredients to the skin or hair. By encapsulating these ingredients in a protective layer, Gellan Gum ensures that they remain on the skin’s surface, allowing them to be absorbed more effectively. This can result in improved product performance and better overall results.
  • Improved Texture and Consistency: As a viscosity-controlling agent, Gellan Gum contributes to the smooth and even texture of cosmetic products. It helps to stabilize formulations, preventing separation or settling of ingredients and provides a pleasant, easy-to-spread consistency. This makes the application of products more enjoyable and user-friendly.
  • Stabilization of Emulsions: Gellan Gum can act as an emulsifier, helping to stabilize oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions commonly found in cosmetic products. This ensures that the product maintains its intended consistency and does not separate over time, providing a more reliable and effective end result.
  • Enhanced Suspension of Particles: In products that contain small particles, such as certain cleansers or exfoliants, Gellan Gum can help to evenly suspend these particles throughout the formulation. This prevents them from sinking to the bottom or floating to the top and ensures consistent distribution of these particles during application.

Overall, Gellan Gum provides a range of valuable benefits that contribute to the performance, efficacy, and user experience of many cosmetic products.

Gellan Gum Potential Side Effects

It’s important to note that side effects and reactions to cosmetic ingredients, including Gellan Gum, can vary from person to person. This is because each individual has a unique skin type and sensitivities, which can affect how their skin reacts to specific ingredients. You can find your skin type to better understand your skin’s unique characteristics and potential sensitivities.

While Gellan Gum is generally considered safe for use in cosmetics, there may be potential side effects or interactions for some individuals. These may include:

  • Skin irritation: In rare cases, Gellan Gum may cause skin irritation, such as redness, itching, or burning sensations. This can occur if an individual has an allergy or sensitivity to the ingredient.
  • Eye irritation: If a product containing Gellan Gum comes into contact with the eyes, it may cause irritation, such as itching, redness, or watering.

If you experience any of these side effects while using a product containing Gellan Gum, it’s important to discontinue use immediately and consult with a healthcare professional for guidance. They can help determine whether the reaction is due to Gellan Gum or another ingredient in the product and provide advice on how to proceed.

It’s worth noting that adverse reactions to Gellan Gum are rare, and generally speaking, the ingredient is safe and effective for use in cosmetic products.

To minimize the risk of adverse reactions, it’s essential to perform a patch test before using any new cosmetic product. This will help you identify any potential sensitivities or allergies to ingredients like Gellan Gum. Follow this patch testing guide to ensure you’re properly testing products before incorporating them into your skincare routine.

Comedogenic Rating

Gellan Gum has a comedogenic rating of 0, which means it is considered non-comedogenic. This rating indicates that Gellan Gum does not clog pores or contribute to the formation of acne, making it a safe ingredient for those with acne-prone or sensitive skin. The low comedogenic rating is due to Gellan Gum’s water-soluble nature and its ability to form a thin, breathable film on the skin without causing pore blockage.


It’s essential to understand that not all ingredients in personal care products, such as skincare, have an immediate impact on the skin or hair. Some ingredients, like Gellan Gum, play a supporting role in the overall formulation, contributing to the product’s texture, consistency, and efficacy without being an active ingredient themselves.

While Gellan Gum may not be as well-known as some other ingredients in the cosmetic world, its benefits as a film-forming and viscosity-controlling agent make it a valuable addition to various formulations. Its ability to enhance the performance and user experience of products without causing common issues like clogged pores or irritation means that it is a reliable and effective ingredient for a wide range of cosmetic applications.

In conclusion, Gellan Gum is a versatile and generally safe cosmetic ingredient that offers multiple benefits to improve the overall quality and efficacy of personal care products. By understanding its role and potential side effects, you can make informed decisions about incorporating products containing Gellan Gum into your skincare routine.

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