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

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: June 26, 2023
Table of Contents

Imagine this: You’ve just picked up a new skincare product that claims to do wonders for your complexion. Eagerly, you take a glance at the ingredient list, expecting to decode the magical formula behind those promising benefits. But instead, you’re confronted with a long list of elements that sound like they belong in a high school chemistry textbook. Stardust? Ethereal extract? Okay, those may be exaggerations, but you get the point. Deciphering the ingredients in cosmetics can be quite a task, and it often feels like you need a degree in science just to understand them.

One such enigmatic ingredient that you might find in your favorite cosmetic products is Welan Gum. No, it’s not a flavor of chewing gum you might find after traveling dimensions or an obscure pop band of the 80s.

In this article, we’re going on a deep dive into the world of Welan Gum. We’ll explore what it is, how it’s used in cosmetic products, and whether it has any noteworthy side effects.

What is Welan Gum?

Welan Gum, sometimes referred to as E-491, is a gum produced by the fermentation of Alcaligenes bacteria. Its primary function within cosmetic formulations is binding, emulsion stabilizing, film forming, and viscosity controlling. In simpler terms, Welan Gum works as a texture enhancer, providing a smooth and luxurious feel to cosmetic products while also ensuring that the product maintains its stability and consistency.

Welan Gum can be found in concentrations ranging from 0.1% to 2%, depending on the specific product and formulation. It’s commonly found as a part of a wider blend of ingredients in cosmetic formulations, but it’s also available as a standalone product for those looking to customize their skincare routine or create DIY cosmetics. In the realm of cosmetics, Welan Gum is a versatile and functional ingredient that offers a myriad of possibilities.

Who Can Use Welan Gum?

One of the significant advantages of Welan Gum is its suitability for all skin types. Whether you have oily, dry, sensitive, or combination skin, Welan Gum-containing products can be safely incorporated into your skincare routine. Its gentle nature and non-irritating properties make it an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin, as it helps improve product texture without irritating.

In addition to its compatibility with various skin types, Welan Gum is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as it’s synthesized through microbial fermentation and doesn’t involve animal-derived ingredients.

As for expecting or breastfeeding mothers, there’s no conclusive evidence suggesting Welan Gum poses any concerns. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before introducing new ingredients or products, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding, to ensure they’re safe for both mother and child.

Welan Gum’s Cosmetic Uses

Welan Gum offers a wide range of benefits in cosmetics, thanks to its multiple functions. Let’s dive deeper into these benefits and unveil the chemistry behind them:

  • Binding: Welan Gum acts as a powerful binding agent in cosmetic formulations. As a binding agent, it helps to keep different ingredients together, preventing separation and ensuring a uniform consistency throughout the product. This is particularly important in products that contain both oil-based and water-based ingredients, as these tend to separate easily. Welan Gum helps to create a smooth, homogenous mixture, contributing to the product’s overall effectiveness and aesthetics.
  • Emulsion Stabilizing: Emulsion stability is crucial for the performance and longevity of cosmetic products. Welan Gum works as an excellent emulsion stabilizer by forming a protective film around the suspended droplets within an emulsion, preventing them from coalescing and maintaining the stability of the formulation. Its emulsion stabilizing properties contribute to a consistent texture and performance, ensuring that your favorite skincare and makeup products deliver optimal results every time.
  • Film Forming: Welan Gum is a perfect film-forming agent that helps to create a thin, protective, and invisible layer on the skin’s surface when applied through a cosmetic product. This protective film helps to lock in hydration, prevents water loss, and provides a smooth and even surface for makeup application. Additionally, film-forming properties contribute to longer-lasting makeup wear, as they enhance the adherence of color pigments and other ingredients on the skin.
  • Viscosity Controlling: The viscosity of cosmetic products significantly influences user experience and product performance. Welan Gum serves as a viscosity-controlling agent, modifying and adjusting the thickness and flow properties of formulations. By doing so, it ensures that products have an ideal viscosity, providing a perfect balance of spreadability and staying power. This means that cosmetic products containing Welan Gum will be easy to apply, distribute evenly, and showcase the desired effects without feeling too thick or runny.

Welan Gum Potential Side Effects

While Welan Gum is generally considered gentle and safe for most skin types, it’s worth noting that individual reactions to cosmetic ingredients may vary. This variation stems from unique skin types, sensitivities, and underlying conditions that can make some people more prone to react to certain ingredients. If you’re unsure about your skin type and its potential reactions, it’s helpful to find your skin type before diving into new products.

Some potential side effects and interactions associated with Welan Gum include:

  • Irritation or redness
  • Mild itchiness
  • Slight burning sensation

In the event you experience any of the side effects mentioned above while using a product containing Welan Gum, the first course of action should be to discontinue using the product and monitor the affected area. If the symptoms persist or worsen, consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist for guidance and possible treatment.

It’s essential to emphasize that adverse reactions to Welan Gum are relatively rare. In general, this ingredient is well-tolerated, safe, and effective for use in cosmetic applications.

Before introducing any new cosmetic ingredient or product into your skincare routine, it’s vital to perform a patch test to ensure compatibility with your skin and avoid potential adverse reactions. Check out our patch testing guide to learn the process for safely testing a new product on your skin before integrating it into your regime. By doing so, you’ll minimize the risk of undesirable side effects and enjoy the full benefits of your chosen cosmetic products.

Comedogenic Rating

When it comes to the comedogenic rating of Welan Gum, it scores a reassuring 0. This means that it’s considered non-comedogenic, which is great news for those concerned with the potential clogging of pores. The non-comedogenic nature of Welan Gum can be attributed to its water-soluble properties, as it doesn’t create an oily build-up on the skin’s surface.

Given its comedogenic score of 0 and its gentle nature, Welan Gum is suitable for individuals prone to acne or breakouts. Its compatibility with all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone complexions, makes it a versatile and valuable addition to various cosmetic formulations.


Oftentimes, the unsung heroes of our favorite skincare and cosmetic products are the ingredients working behind the scenes. They may not provide immediate or noticeable effects themselves, but they play a crucial role in supporting the overall formulation and improving the product’s performance. Welan Gum is one such non-active ingredient that enhances the texture, stability, and application of the skincare items we use daily.

While it may not be the most well-known or widely-acclaimed ingredient in the world of cosmetics, Welan Gum has a range of beneficial properties that contribute to its inclusion in various products. It’s particularly favored for its non-comedogenic nature, making it an ideal choice for those seeking gentle and acne-friendly solutions.

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