If you type “Dimethicone” into an internet search prompt and read the first links that appear you might feel ok with this ingredient being included in your beauty product ingredient list. Before you stop with the conveniently placed articles at the top of the list, know that Dimethicone is also used to make silly putty, aquarium sealant, and stuff you spray on your windshield so that rain will bead up and roll off. We are told by doctors on the internet and cosmetic companies that this synthetic silicone is not only okay for your skin, but also that it is actually good for it. They don’t tell you that there are restrictions regarding how much can be added to a single product. You will also notice that their major justification is that it is one of the most commonly used moisturizing ingredients by them and other companies like them. If you are not sure you want the same ingredient used to make windshield coating on your face and body, take a minute to read this article (i.e., do some research and decide for yourself).
For your health, you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat.
For our ocean’s health, you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t drink.
Think about that as you read a few facts about Dimethicone.
What is it? A synthetic silicone used in beauty products as an anti-foaming agent, skin protectant, and conditioner for skin and hair. It also has other applications (see below).
- Toy making
- Aquarium sealant
- Car sealants
- Fast food (Maybe in this case you shouldn’t eat what you wouldn’t put on your skin.)
- Processed foods (Like whipped topping)
- Cooking Oil
Why are they putting this in skincare products?
- Manufacturers like it because it is a cheap thickening agent making products feel silky-smooth and easily spreadable. This gives the perception that it is a lotion or cream gliding nicely over your skin. It also forms a protective barrier on the skin that prevents moisture loss and as a part of that barrier, it fills in fine lines and wrinkles, making it popular with consumers who are unknowingly creating a dependency on a synthetic barrier which disrupts the skin’s own hydrating processes. This ultimately increases dryness, making fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.
The FDA approves of Dimethicone. According to the FDA, a review of data on the product’s effects found that its benefits outweigh any potential risks. The EWG Skin Deep database also has it listed as a low hazard risk, but admit that data is limited. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 (fda.gov) EWG Skin Deep® | What is DIMETHICONE
- The other justification is that it is an occlusive creating a skin barrier. Meaning it creates a protective barrier on your skin instead of soaking into your skin. What is an Occlusive?
Occlusives are categorized as a type of moisturizer that work by forming a physical barrier on the outer layer of the skin, to prevent moisture loss. They DO NOT increase the moisture levels of the skin but help prevent the moisture already in your skin from escaping. They also DO NOT soften the skin.
There are plant-based versions and synthetic occlusives.
Plant-based occlusives include cocoa-butter, shea-butter, olive oil, carnauba wax, beeswax. Cocoa-butter, shea-butter, and olive oil are considered “occlusive emollients” because they create a protective barrier like an occlusive and also soften the skin which is the job of an emollient. These products are more expensive to use as ingredients then their synthetic counterparts.
Synthetic versions include petroleum jelly (like Vaseline), mineral oil (which is a petroleum by product), and Dimethicone.
What are Dimethicone and other silicones really doing to your skin?
- The “protective” barrier meant to seal in your existing moisture is also sealing in any bacteria, oil, dead skin, and impurities which can lead to increased break outs.
- Skin cells renew every 28 days leading to a natural process where we slough off the old cells. When the skin is coated in silicone, this process is disrupted not allowing the old cells to slough off as needed.
- They also disrupt the natural sweating and temperature-regulating processes.
- Many become dependent to these products because their skin only has that “silky-smooth” feeling while they are present on the skin. This is the result of the skin’s natural hydration process being disrupted. (Which will lead to dryer skin with more visible lines and wrinkles when it is there to provide a false barrier.)
- They are not adding anything beneficial to your skin. (No vitamins, minerals, enzymes, salicylic acids, amino acids) There is nothing to boost your skin health or make you look glowing and vibrant.
It’s all marketing and perception with many brands, claiming to be all-natural while listing Dimethicone as an active ingredient.
Are silicones like Dimethicone bad for the environment? Yes.
Silicones come from natural sources, but the chemical engineering that goes into creating them makes them harmful to the environment.
Silicones sit on the skin and hair rather than sinking in which means they are ultimately washed down the drain and eventually, making their way into our rivers and oceans.
Dimethicone is non-water soluble, so think about what’s happening as you and millions more wash it down the drain… I’ve read some articles written by beauty product manufacturers claiming it’s ok that synthetic silicone is not water soluble because the rocks and clay filter it out of the water. Really? Are you surprised that scientists have found silicones in the blood of fish, birds, and mammals? I’ve attached the link to a report written in 2021 regarding the impact on the environment from the silicones in cosmetics. It is worth a read and your consideration. Silicones-in-cosmetics-and-their-impact-on-the-environment.pdf (cosmethicallyactive.com)
My hope is that as I share what I learn about beauty product ingredients, others will be inspired to read labels, learn, and not trust without question marketing from a largely unregulated beauty industry.