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Dimethicone

By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Tue, Apr 07, 2020

dimethicone in skin care benefits and uses Dimethicone and cyclomethicone are useful and well-loved skin care ingredient derived from silicone. Dimethicone works in skin care as both a partial occlusive and an emollient (moisturizing) ingredient. It is one of my favorite ingredients for creating a light barrier cream to protect skin.

What are the 6 key benefits of dimethicone in skin care?

  1. It is commonly used in oil-free moisturizers, and is a great ingredient for acne prone complexions
  2. It is noncomedogenic in spite of the concerns to the contrary that it blocks pores.
  3. Its presence gives products gives your skin a silky feel without being greasy.
  4. It helps skin to retain moisture by reducing TEWL (transepidermal water loss).
  5. It acts as a skin protectant or barrier to help skin resist damage from chemicals, harsh weather, chafing etc.
  6. It is also hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin.

Cyclomethicone is also used in skin care. It is similar to dimethicone but thicker.

What are dimethicone, cyclomethicone and silicones used in skin care?

Silicone comes from silica, which is sand. It is formed into a polymer made of repeating molecules that are large and have large spaces between each molecule. Dimethicone and cyclomethicone are similar. The spaces in the polymers mean that when you layer a product with these ingredients onto your skin it will 'breath' and other active ingredients can move through it. It is important to understand that these large molecules are too big to enter your skin or your pores. They layer onto your skin surface and impart an instant silky and smooth feel.

How are silicone ingredients used in skin care products?

  1. Silicone gels and sheets are applied to scars and have been found helpful in shrinking troublesome scars such as keloids. I’ve used them for years in my practice with excellent results to help people prone to keloids and hypertrophic scars.
  2. Silicone ingredients are added to anti-chaffing products to prevent groin chafing from athletic activities such as cycling and running.
  3. They are used in some of the best hand creams to protect hands from chapping.
  4. They can be added to moisturizers it helps hold moisture inside the skin. In fact, they are an ideal choice for an oil-free moisturizing ingredient for oily and acne prone complexions.

What is the benefit of using silicone-derived ingredients such as cyclomethicone and dimethicone in moisturizing skin care products?

These ingredients decrease moisture loss from skin, called transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Dimethicone is used as a skin protectant to help skin resist irritation due to minor contact irritants.

dimethicone in hand cream to protect hands

For this reason, I find dimethicone very helpful in hand care products, such as my Dry Skin Hand Cream, to help hand skin resist chapping. It is listed in an FDA monograph as a skin protectant for over-the-counter human use, such as in diaper rash products. It is also used in foams formulated to relieve irritation from rashes such as eczema.

Will silicone or dimethicone smother or suffocate your skin or clog pores?

No. There is no scientific evidence that this happens, despite questions and anecdotal stories to the contrary. In fact, dimethicone has been shown to be noncomedogenic. It also does not cling to skin or clog pores.

What are some of the best way to use dimethicone and cyclomethicone in your skin care routine?

dimethicone face cream for oily acne-prone skin

Dimethicone and cyclomethicone are best formulated into skin care products by expert chemists. They mix nicely with many ingredients, including oils and humectants such as glycerin. In fact, dimethicone and glycerin are a common and highly effective combination in oil-free moisturizers loved by acne-prone complexions. It is one of the reasons that my Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Complexions is so popular and feels so soothing on the skin! Overall, dimethicone is a great ingredient for skin care products to help keep them light textured yet hydrating and protective.

Find dimethicone and cyclomethicone in many of my products. Some of the top products where these ingredients give you great protective and moisture retaining benefits include:

  • My Daily Moisturizing Face Creams, where they are paired with glycerin and other key ingredients to create these well-loved moisturizers. Choose from Oily to Normal or Dry to Normal formulations.dimethicone and green tea for facial redness relief
  • In my Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy where dimethicone is combined with the humectant hyaluronic acid and the powerful, pharmaceutical-grade green tea EGCG polyphenol antioxidants equivalent to those found in 500 cups of brewed green tea.
  • Retinol Intensive Night Cream where they are paired with high concentration pharmaceutical-grade retinol, the same green tea polyphenol antioxidants as in Green Tea Therapy, and hyaluronic acid. This is a must-have antiaging and anti-acne night treatment product.
  • Vitamin C Anti-Wrinkle Professional Treatment Serum, where they are paired with stable L-ascorbic acid to create a key anti-aging and antioxidant product.
  • dimethicone in sunscreen makes it lightweight
    All three of my facial Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 50+ Sunscreens where they make these sunscreens perform exceptionally well while feeling light on your skin. Formulations inlcude Spray, Invisible and Matte Tinted.
  • Dry Skin Hand Cream where dimethicone is paired with glycerin in a magic combination that soothes and protects overused hand skin. This is like no other hand care product! There is no greasy or slippery grip with this cream yet it is amazingly effective. I’ve carried this cream in my lab coat pocket for years and it sits by many of my sinks. I apply it often during my busy day. This is the best hand cream to heal and prevent chapped hands.

Glycerin and dimethicone are an ideal ingredient combination to fight dry skin.

One last geek note about glycerin and dimethicone: Glycerin is the most effective humectant available to increase stratum corneum hydration. But if the concentration is too high it will create a sticky feel on the skin. Oddly, if used alone, glycerin will increase TEWL as it pulls moisture out of skin to donate do dry air – so optimal formulation needs to be precise. In my Dry Skin Hand Cream and Daily Face Creams, it is perfectly combined with dimethicone to create magic - light textured moisturizers that are protective, silky and highly effective!

dimethicone in top dermatologist's skin care routine

Get my favorite facial dimethicone and glycerin combination in my Complete Skin Care Kit. This foundational routine can fit into any of your other favorite skin care products to create results-oriented Complete Skin Care. There is dimethicone in the Green Tea, Daily Moisturizing Cream and Sunscreen! Your skin is well hydrated and protected while never feeling occluded - the brilliant formulations and product combo make this illusive goal possible!

References:

Chularojanamontri Leana, Moisturizers for Acne, What are their constituents? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol., 2014 May; 7(5): 36-44 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025519/

Carter BN, Sherman RT., Dimethicone (silicone) skin protection in surgical patients. AMA Arch Surg., 1957;75: 116-7

Eberting Cheryl L, et. al., Pathophysiologic Treatment Approact to Irritant Contact Dermatitis, Current Treatment Options in Allergy Dec. 2014, 1 (4) 317-328 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40521-014-0030-0

Van Reeth Isabelle,The Beauty of Silicone in Skin Care Applications https://consumer.dow.com/content/dam/dcc/documents/en-us/tech-art/27/27-16/27-1624-01-beauty-silicone-skin-care-applications.pdf?iframe=true&v=82d32f87b89f