Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

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Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

(HEC) is a remarkably efficient gelling agent and is useful for adding viscosity to a wide range of skincare products.it is stable across a wide pH range – typically between 3 and 10 though some loss of viscosity can occur below pH 3 and above pH 10 which may require increasing the amount of HEC slightly to compensate.

Add Hydroxyethyl Cellulose at 0.3% 0.4% to your heated water phase before combining with the oil phase to increase the viscosity of your emulsions and to aid the stability of the emulsion. According to the manufacturer of this product, HEC is a co-emulsifier so certainly will strengthen the stability of your emulsion.

HEC creates crystal clear gels with good suspension properties so can be used as the base for serums (works well with pretty much every water soluble active ingredient – including the sometimes difficult to work with aloe vera, alpha hydroxy acids etc). HEC gels can be used as the basis for salt and sugar scrubs (keep below 20% salt crystals (it may be necessary to increase the concentration of HEC).

Try 1% HEC for a pourable serum or scrub base or use 1.5% HEC for a thicker, more typical, gel

HEC is the ideal gelling agent for sterilising gels as it can readily support up to 60% alcohol and ought to be able to support 70% alcohol (though 60% alcohol is more than sufficient for hand sanitisers so an extra 10% might be regarded as superfluous)

Recipe and Method

  • Water:                 35%
  • Propanediol         4%
  • HEC                    0.8%
  • 100% Alcohol     60%

Combine room temperature water and propanediol and then sprinkle the HEC into the liquid under the action of a stick blender. Leave to stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Then add the alcohol.

If you wish we have left a little space in the formulation for the addition of an appropriate fragrance such as tea-tree or eucalyptus oil. The gel will thicken further after 15 minutes or so after which it can be bottled. There is no need for any kind of preservative as alcohol at 20% or above more than adequately preserves the gel

Additional information

Weight N/A

100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg

Technical Documents

COA Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

MSDS Hydroxyethyl Cellulose


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