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Cosmetics Ingredients
The material selection platform
Cosmetics Ingredients


CAS Number: 1320-51-0
Chem/IUPAC Name: 2-hydroxyethylurea
EINECS/ELINCS No: 215-304-0
COSING REF No: 56805
Hydroxyethyl urea is a low-molecular-weight, highly water-soluble, hygroscopic solid that functions as a moisturizer and humectant in cosmetics and personal care products. It is a derivative of urea, singly substituted with 2-ethanol. It is usually available as an aqueous solution in water.

What is HYDROXYETHYL UREA used for?

Hydroxyethyl urea provides excellent moisturization and is found in numerous personal care products like face, body, feet, and hand lotions and creams, anti-aging products, bath products, color cosmetics, depilatories, antiperspirants, hair shampoos, etc.
  • Skin care: It is a strong moisturizer and humectant that helps the skin to hold onto water thus making it hydrated and elastic. It has a moisturizing ability similar to that of glycerin and provides a non-sticky and moist feel. It is used at a concentration of 20.6% in leave-on products, and 5% in sprays


Hydroxyethyl urea is obtained by reacting ethanolamine with excess urea. Specifically, 2-Hydroxyethyl Urea is made by the transamidation of urea with monoethanolamine. Ammonia and unreacted monoethanolamine are removed from the reaction by sparging with nitrogen. Lactic acid is added to neutralize any ammonia or monoethanolamine remaining in the product. Alternatively, it can also be synthesized via N-carbamoylation of ethanolamine with potassium cyanate.

What does HYDROXYETHYL UREA do in a formulation?

  • Humectant
  • Moisturising
  • Skin conditioning


Hydroxyethyl urea is not classified as hazardous according to Australia’s Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances. It is not restricted from use in any way under the rules governing cosmetic products in the European Union. The Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR) panel concluded it to be safe in cosmetics in the present practices of use and concentration when formulated to be non-irritating.

HYDROXYETHYL UREA Technical profile

Property Values
Boiling Point 150°C
Melting Point 94-95°C
Solubility Soluble in water
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