The material selection platform
Cosmetics Ingredients
The material selection platform
Cosmetics Ingredients


CAS Number 9002-88-4
Chem/IUPAC Name: Homopolymer of ethylene monomers
COSING REF No: 78649
Polyethylene is a common ingredient used in the cosmetic and personal care industry because of its cleansing and exfoliating properties. This ingredient is often used in the form of microbeads that aid exfoliation or as wax which also has multiple benefits. Polyethylene Wax works as a good moisturizer that improves the texture of the surface and also as a thickener that enhances the consistency of the product. It can be found in products like mascaras, eyeshadows, lipsticks, blushes, and cleansers. The chemical formula of Polyethylene is (C2H4)n, where n is the repeating number of units in the polymer chain.

What is POLYETHYLENE used for?

Polyethylene has many uses in the personal care and cosmetic industry. From exfoliation to thickening - Polyethylene does it all. It can be used in the form of microbeads or wax in the formulations.
  • Skin care: It is also a great exfoliant and emollient that is widely used in products like moisturizers, cleansers, body washes, and scrubs. Its small, uniform particles help remove dead skin cells and make the surface of the skin smoother and softer
  • Cosmetic products: It works as a thickening agent that enhances the texture and consistency of the products. This makes cosmetic products easier to apply and more pleasant to use
  • Hair care: It forms a film on the shafts that hold in moisture and provides structure to the hair. Polyethylene is also helpful in reducing frizz and providing shine to the shafts. It is thus found in gels and waxes


Polyethylene is made from ethylene through the polymerization process where small molecules known as monomers are linked to form a polymer chain. A catalyst is also used to facilitate this reaction.

What does POLYETHYLENE do in a formulation?

  • Emollient
  • Film forming
  • Viscosity controlling

Safety Profile of POLYETHYLENE

Polyethylene is a safe ingredient that has a low toxicity profile and does not have any side effects on the skin and hair. It cannot penetrate the skin due to its large size and therefore has no adverse effects. However, Polyethylene poses extreme concerns for the environment as the microbeads contribute to plastic pollution and are non-biodegradable. This ingredient should ideally be replaced with natural alternatives that are more environmentally friendly. Further, Polyethylene is generally not considered vegan as it is not derived from plants.

POLYETHYLENE Technical profile

Property Values
Boiling Point 48-110°C
Melting Point 92°C
pH 7.0
Solubility Insoluble in water

Commercial Selection : Grades containing solely POLYETHYLENE

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