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Controversial Ingredients: Setting the Record Straight

By: Ada Polla and Anne Pouillot
Posted: January 30, 2012, from the February 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
skin cream

page 6 of 17

It is recommended to either use alternative ingredients or minimize its concentration14 and work with manufacturers, contract formulators or internal R&D teams to verify the purification steps.


Dimethicone and methicone are silicone-based polymers, which are derivatives of silica. The only difference between these two polymers is that the repeating unit of dimethicone contains two methyl groups, while the repeating unit of methicone contains one methyl group. These silicones facilitate the spreading of creams, and yield a smooth and silky feel.15

Silicone polymers have a bad reputation because they have been known to form a nonoily film on the skin’s surface, which can obstruct pores. Furthermore, the synthetic origin of silicone polymers is not in accordance with some brand positioning. Although derived from a natural resource (sand), the processes necessary to obtain the actual silicone polymer have been unwelcome.

However, it should not necessarily be replaced. Scientific data suggests that silicones are neither dangerous nor allergenic. Indeed, silicone has been utilized in many consumer/medical products for 50 years without causing significant side effects.16

There is currently no available alternative that provides the silky feel that silicone creates in a cosmetic product. It is adequate to keep dimethicone in formulations for which a silky texture is preferable.17

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