Microcrystalline Cellulose



Microcrystalline Cellulose at a glance

  • Defined as the isolated, colloidal crystalline portion of cellulose fibers
  • Can be plant derived (sometimes through “upcycling” agricultural waste) or created synthetically
  • Works in a variety of roles including absorbent, emulsion stabiliser, scrub and texture enhancer
  • Also offers minor antioxidant properties (variable depending on the source)

Microcrystalline Cellulose description

Microcrystalline cellulose plays a variety of roles in cosmetic formulations including as an abrasive, absorbent, emulsion stabiliser, slip modifier and viscosity-increasing agent. It is defined as the isolated, colloidal crystalline portion of cellulose fibers, which can be plant derived or created synthetically. In certain instances, microcrystalline cellulose is considered an “upcycled ingredient” because it can be created as a by-product of the waste from agricultural industries, including banana, corn, sugarcane, and soybean farming. It can also be extracted from oil palm fibers. Researchers also note microcrystalline cellulose offers antioxidant properties and can help improve formulary shelf life. The strength of antioxidant power depends on the source and method of preparation. Microcrystalline cellulose has been deemed safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, with reported concentrations of use ranging from 0.0001 to 57%.

Microcrystalline Cellulose references

  • 3 Biotech, June 2021, pages 1-13
  • IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, March 2017, pages 1-5
  • Cosmetic Ingredient Review, March 2009, pages 1-49

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.