Silicones in Cosmetics: What Should You Know?

Silicones are now a part of many cosmetic products. There has been a lot of debate on their use and chemistry. Of course, you can take a word and start washing your hair with burdock, or you can understand the real facts and draw conclusions on your own. We, of course, choose the latter.

What Are Silicones?

Silicone is a substance of exclusively chemical origin, consisting of molecules of oxygen, organic silicon, carbon, and hydrogen. Today, this term refers to a whole group of synthetic compounds, so it (silicone) is usually used in the plural.

Silicones remain stable during changes in the external environment and temperature effects, are resistant to ultraviolet radiation and oxidation, are non-flammable, non-toxic, and never penetrate deep into the application surface due to the inertness and size of their molecules.

These are truly unique substances with a huge list of possibilities, which is why they are so widely in demand in various industries.

Types Of Silicones

A single generally accepted classification of silicones does not yet exist, so any typical division can be considered conditional. So, depending on the structure, 4 types of silicone compounds are distinguished:

  • Liquids – used in cosmetics, and in the manufacture of paints and lubricants.
  • Gels – used in medicine, cosmetics, and footwear production.
  • Elastomers – denser connections, indispensable in the development of insulating materials.
  • Resins are heat-resistant substances that are part of hair care products, UV protection, etc.

In addition, silicones in cosmetics are divided into soluble and insoluble in water, volatile (those that evaporate quickly), and high polymer, the removal of which requires several steps. The main thing to understand is that there are many silicones, and they are different. These substances differ in the degree of density, the structure of molecular chains, and their relationship. Even silicones of the same name can have a different combination of molecules, which explains the incredible breadth of their application.

How To Find Silicones in The Composition

You can detect silicones in cosmetics by the suffixes -cone or -xane. The most frequently encountered include:

  • Dimethicone – heavy, does not dissolve in water, and requires thorough rinsing.
  • Cyclomethicone – volatile, easy to wash off.
  • Cyclopentasiloxane – is also volatile.
  • Phenyl Trimethicone – Insoluble, often used in hair cosmetics.

To the question of the variety of silicones: there is such a nuance as their derivatives. For example, dimethicone has a heavy specific gravity and does not dissolve in water, while amodimethicone, on the contrary, is quite light and rinses off without problems.

In Cosmetics and Beyond

First, silicones began to be used in the production of insulating materials, but today the list of their applications has reached Homeric proportions. The construction industry is already unthinkable without silicones (they are part of sealants, protective coatings, paints, and varnishes), the automotive industry (coolants, rubber), medicine (breast implants, impression masks for teeth), food industry, pharmacology, agriculture. Silicones are present in dishes, healing ointments, shoe insoles, furniture covers, etc.

Silicone is almost always found in cosmetics. However, do not think that the same substance is used in the production of building materials and lipstick. Silicone is a complex compound and even a slight correction of its molecular chain can radically change the whole picture.

Silicones And Their Effect on The Skin

One of the superpowers of silicone in cosmetics is the creation of an occlusive effect. We are talking about the very film that helps prevent moisture loss and protects the skin from an aggressive external environment. They say that because of it, “the skin does not breathe”, pores become clogged and comedones form, but this is not true.

The film created by silicone does not interfere with a gas exchange between the skin and the environment, it retains water but does not clog pores. As for provoking comedones, this is basically impossible. Silicone does not penetrate the pores, does not oxidize, and does not interact with the immune system. It always remains on the surface of the skin.

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