Cellulose is a natural polysaccharide (polymer consisting of monosaccharide units) found in the cell wall of green plants. In fact, cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. The cellulose content of cotton fiber is 90% and that of wood is 40 to 50%. Cellulose is used across many industries to make numerous products, such as paper, cellophane, rayon, etc. There are many modified cellulose polymers that are used in cosmetics and personal care products, including microcrystalline cellulose. Microcrystalline cellulose functions as an abrasive, absorbent, anticaking agent, emulsion stabilizer, slip modifier, and viscosity increasing agent.
Microcrystalline cellulose is a gentle abrasive that is often used in exfoliating skin care products, such as body and face scrubs. Products that contain microcrystalline cellulose as an abrasive will help to exfoliate the top layers of skin, removing makeup, excess oil, dirt, and other impurities that may have accumulated during the day. As an absorbent, microcrystalline cellulose has the ability to absorb excess moisture and oil from the surface of skin. Lastly, as a viscosity increasing agent, microcrystalline cellulose is used to thicken product formulations, which improves their texture and spreadability.