Common Types of Silicones in Cosmetics
Silicones have unique fluid properties that in various forms can feel like silk on the skin, impart emollience, and are resistant to water. Their unique molecular structure of large molecules with wide spaces between each molecule allows them to form a permeable barrier without feeling heavy and offers protection against moisture loss. It makes silicones an ideal delivery system for active ingredients that require extended absorption time. The actives remain suspended on the skin’s surface, so they can be absorbed slowly. Some of the most common types of silicones used in cosmetics are explained below.
Common Types of Silicones
- Dimethicone – a clear, non-reactive, liquid that can range in thickness, depending on the length of its polymer backbone, from watery thin to taffy thick.
- Dimethicone Copolyol – a silicone which contains an -OH group which makes it more soluble in water. This makes it easier to incorporate into water-based formulations, but also reduces the silky feel of the silicone.
- Cyclomethicone – a shorter cyclic molecule which has many of the same properties of dimethicone except that it evaporates.
- Cyclo-Dimethicone – a mixture of a stable linear high-molecular weight silicone (dimethicone) and volatile cyclic low-molecular-weight silicone (cyclomethicones).
Dimethicone and dimethicone copolyol don’t evaporate and stay on the skin longer which makes them ideal for using in foundation or other color complexion cosmetics. The addition of silicones to the fluid/emulsion allows the insoluble mineral pigments, which provide color and coverage, to ride on the skin’s surface without caking or falling into fine lines.
Cyclomethicone acts as a carrier to deliver other ingredients to be absorbed by the skin immediately, or in a time-released manner. It makes the product feel like silk for a smoother application.
Cyclo-dimethicone is a blend of evaporating cyclomethicone and stable dimethicone. It is used in long-lasting color cosmetics such as liquid lipsticks and foundations.
The types of silicones used in cosmetic products are supported by scientific research and are considered safe for consumer use. These types of cosmetic silicones are effective, inert, and versatile ingredients that benefit cosmetics in numerous ways.