Film-Forming Agent

No known benefits

Ethylcellulose at a glance

  • Naturally derived from wood pulp or cotton
  • Used in cosmetics to enhance texture, create films, and work as a solvent
  • Allows the creation of clear fluid or gel formulas
  • Considered safe as used in food and cosmetics

Ethylcellulose description

Ethylcellulose is a plant-derived (from cotton or wood pulp) carbohydrate polymer that’s used in cosmetics for its solvent, texture-enhancing and film-forming properties. Used in makeup, it can help brighten and improve the shine quality of cosmetic pigments. Adding ethylcellulose to skin care formulas can help create clear gels in a range of viscosities (thicknesses). It’s supplied as a colorless powder that plays well with other solvents when added to the oil phase of a formula. It also works well with various glycerides and UV filters, including octinoxate and homosalate. This ingredient is also known as ethyl ether cellulose. It’s a food-grade ingredient used to help oils gel. As such, it’s considered safe as used in cosmetics. Usage levels of ethylcellulose in cosmetics range from 0.5–10%.

Ethylcellulose references

  • Polymers, June 2022, pages 1–16
  • European Food Safety Authority, July 2020, ePublication
  • Materials, October 2019, pages 1–21
  • Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, March 2018, pages 1–56
  • Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, January 2016, pages 65–91

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.