What is it? A water soluble thickening agent that creates beautiful crystal clear gels without the tacky skin feel of other gums.
INCI Hydroxyethylcellulose
Appearance Fine off-white powder
Usage rate 0.1–3% (you could use more, but it would be very thick!)
Texture A soft powder
Scent Nothing noticeable
pH 6.7 (1% solution)
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? It provides fantastic gel-like thickening without the snottiness of gums like xanthan and guar. It also boosts surfactant performance noticeably.
Do you need it? It’s easily my favourite plant-derived thickening gum; I’d recommend it over xanthan and guar.
Strengths Creates beautiful, clear, carbomer-like gels and noticeably boosts surfactant performance. Has a much better leave-on skin feel than gums like xanthan and guar.
Weaknesses Harder to find than gums like xanthan and guar.
Alternatives & Substitutions I haven’t come across anything that works quite like HEC does. Xanthan gum will offer similar thickening, but gives a far less pleasant end consistency and does not boost lather the way HEC does.
How to Work with It Whisk the hydroxyethylcellulose into some glycerin to break up any lumps before adding the rest of the water phase. It will thicken over the course of several hours without heating; the thickening process can be sped up by gently heating the mixture in a water bath.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, hydroxyethylcellulose should last at least three years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Make sure it has time to fully hydrate before continuing with your formulation to ensure a uniform end product.
Recommended starter amount 30g (1oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon. Mine is from Essential Wholesale.

Some Formulations that Use Hydroxyethylcellulose


Posted on

November 20, 2018