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Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 29, 2020.

What is it?

Hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) is a nonionic, water-soluble polymer. It is a white, free-flowing granular powder and is made by reacting ethylene oxide with alkali-cellulose. HEC has uses in the cosmetics and personal care industries as a gelling and thickening agent. In pharmaceuticals, cellulose has been used as an adsorbent, glidant, drug solvent, and suspending agent. It is one of the main components of the personal lubricant brand known as K-Y Jelly. It can also be found in household cleaning products.[1]


[1] [1]Dave RH. Overview of pharmaceutical excipients used in tablets and capsules. Drug Topics (online). Advanstar. 10/24/2008 Accessed 02/17/2015

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.