When you think of a good skin moisturizer, you think of a product that makes your skin soft, smooth, hydrated, and fresh without leaving a sticky residue. When skin care products are formulated, certain products help create specific desired qualities. Dimethicone (a form of silicone) is often used as it gives a silky texture to products, helps keep skin properly hydrated, and provides a natural barrier on the skin. It’s a great addition to many skin care products, as it provides many benefits without many drawbacks.
What is Dimethicone?
Dimethicone (polydimethylsiloxane) is described as a synthetic polymer of silicon and an emollient that works to improve the softness of the skin. It seals the spaces between the superficial dead cells of the epidermis layer of the skin. The molecules of silicone-based polymers are too large to penetrate the skin’s barrier and leave behind a silky barrier. Since it doesn’t mix with the sebum of your skin, it is often used in products designed for the skin like moisturizers, creams, primers, and lotions.
Benefits of Using Dimethicone in Skin Care Products
Using dimethicone as an ingredient in skin care products can improve the efficacy, feel, and longevity of the other ingredients. It has been used as an ingredient in many different skin and hair care products for many years. Why would we want to use dimethicone in skin care products?
- Seals in moisture: Dimethicone forms a physical barrier on the skin that helps keep in hydration and keep out outside irritants and moisture. It also helps provide protection against transepidermal water loss, which can lead to inflammation of the skin.
- Won’t clog pores and cause breakouts: Despite it being occlusive (meaning it seals in hydration while keeping the irritants out), it is non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. Because of these qualities, it’s commonly used in oil-free formulas to provide long-lasting moisture without clogging pores and causing breakouts.
- Creates a silky feel on the skin: The main reason dimethicone is used in skin care product formulations is to provide a silky smooth finish to topical creams and lotions. It allows a product to have a light texture and non-greasy feel that spreads quickly, easily, and evenly on the skin.
- Controls skin’s shine: While it provides a barrier on the skin, it still allows the skin to sweat and also controls the shine of an oily complexion.
- Make skin’s appearance smoother: Mattifying silicones can blur light, often giving the skin an airbrushed look.
- Has Emollient Qualities: An emollient works to smooth and soften the skin but has a lighter, less greasy finish than other skin care ingredients, making it a great choice for all skin types
- Protects the Skin: Dimethicone can act as a physical barrier on the skin, keeping pollutants and irritants off of the skin.
- Smooths Texture: Not only can it fill in fine lines and wrinkles, but it can also create a smooth skin surface, making it a great choice to use in primers.
- Give longwear properties to makeup: Dimethicone can give longwear properties to lipsticks and makeup, while keeping them flexible enough to not crack.
Dimethicone is also very unreactive with other ingredients and causes a smooth glide to the formulation. They are also vegan and cruelty-free. In skin care products, silicones are hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and non-irritating. They can also be used in sunscreens to help them stay on better.
Is Dimethicone Bad for Skin?
Dimethicone is a synthetic product and oftentimes is used in place of more natural ingredients like plant oils or butters. That fact shouldn’t scare you though; naturally occurring oils can sometimes be worse for skin and actually clog pores more than a synthetic product. They also have a higher chance of being allergenic to some people. In general, dimethicone is a pretty neutral substance and most people are able to use products containing it without it causing irritation to their skin.
Drawbacks of Dimethicone
The biggest drawbacks of dimethicone are often the negative myths about it. The myths include the idea that silicones cause acne, are bad for sensitive skin, are toxic, and suffocate the skin. Dimethicone and other silicones have been extensively studied and have been proven to be very safe and actually beneficial to the skin.
How to Use Products Containing Dimethicone
In general, products containing dimethicone are believed to be safe for everyday use. How often and the order in which you apply your skin care products depends on what the specific products are. For instance, if you’re using it in a primer or moisturizer, it’s best to apply to fresh, clean, and damp skin. Using the product after showering is a great time to ensure you reap the most benefits of the product. Since it is occlusive, you should use your water-based products first, then apply the product containing dimethicone to optimize the absorption of products and seal them into the skin.
Dimethicone is Safe for All Skin Types
Overall, dimethicone is a pretty neutral silicone that has been used for many years in skin care, hair care, and personal care products. Even though it is a synthetic product, it has been proven to provide many different positive benefits when used in conjunction with other ingredients in skin care products. It’s hard to find another product that is non-irritating, unreactive, and hypoallergenic. All skin types, even sensitive skin types can use products containing dimethicone with no problem. In fact, most people are able to apply undiluted silicones directly to their skin without experiencing any issues. They also haven’t been linked to any hormone disruptions or long term health effects. With all these benefits, it’s hard to ignore this key ingredient in many skin care products.