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What Is Dimethicone Used for in Skin Care and Hair Care?

Consider this your cheat sheet on this popular cosmetic ingredient.

When it comes to cosmetic and skin care ingredients, there are a few that we constantly hear about and we’re fully aware of what they are and what they do. Vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid are a few that come to mind, but there are also a handful of elusive ingredients that make their way into products we use daily that most aren’t familiar with. 

Dimethicone is at the top of that list of ingredients — it’s in practically every skin care and hair care product, but you may not know why. Keep reading to get the 4-1-1 on this common skin care and hair care ingredient, including what dimethicone is used for in skin and hair products, plus some great beauty picks that include dimethicone. 

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What Is Dimethicone?

Dimethicone is a man-made, silicone molecule that’s often found in cosmetic and personal care products due to its excellent emollient (smoothing) properties. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel, it works as an anti-foaming agent, skin protectant, skin conditioning agent and hair conditioning agent. 

While there are many different forms of dimethicone, it’s often used as a spreading aid in many of your favorite creams and lotions. Topical application of dimethicone can form a protective barrier that can help to improve moisture retention, thus increasing skin hydration. That’s what gives the skin a smooth, silky feel and can help to plump fine lines and wrinkles. 

What Does Dimethicone Do for Skin?

Certain forms of dimethicone, such as dimethicone PEG or PPG, are used as emulsifiers to provide skin care products with a uniformly smooth texture. When paired with certain slip agents, dimethicone can serve as a viable solution stabilizer — in other words, it’s needed to make your products perform as intended so that you can reap their benefits. Dimethicone in skin care has benefits that may also include skin-soothing and astringent properties, according to the Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing.

What Does Dimethicone Do for Hair?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), dimethicone is a widely-used silicone in the hair care industry. It creates a thin, protective layer over the hair shaft which helps to enhance shine, smooth and protect the hair from abrasive actions (like tugging or blow drying) and add body to it.

The Benefits Of Dimethicone in Skin Care and Hair Care

Dimethicone is a silicone that helps to improve formulas in skin care and hair care products. Here are some of its standout benefits in both. 

1. Texture

In skin care, it aids in texture and hydration. According to a medical journal by the NCBI, dimethicone has a moisturizing effect as well as a softening effect. 

2. It Doesn’t Clog Pores

It’s also non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores. This is beneficial for all skin types, but especially those with oily skin because they’re more prone to acne. 

3. It Locks in Moisture

In hair care, it aids in absorption on the hair shaft to add shine, increase strength, smooth hair and lock in hydration. 

4. Smoothing

Overall, dimethicone is a smoothing agent that helps your products perform better, it also helps to keep topical formulas lightweight and smooth.

Is Dimethicone Harmful for Skin?

According to the CIR, there is no scientific evidence to support dimethicone allergies. While people may claim to be allergic, it is more likely that another ingredient is causing the allergic reaction, like a preservative. That said, if you experience any type of irritation from your products, such as swelling, redness, hives or burning, wash the product off the affected area immediately and consult with your doctor.

Is Dimethicone Harmful for Hair?

The NCBI reveals that silicones like dimethicone can have negative effects on curly hair because they can lead to buildup, weighing down the hair and making it look heavy and greasy. So, while there may not be scientific evidence that supports the claim that dimethicone is harmful to the hair, it may not be great for your style depending on your hair type. That said, some evidence shows the opposite effect, as the silicones help coat the hair shaft, which creates less friction when you brush or comb your hair, per the CIR.

What Are Dimethicone Side Effects?

While dimethicone allergies are uncommon, side effects after topical application could include redness, swelling, hives, inflammation and burning on the application site.

Does Dimethicone Cause Hair Loss?

The CIR shares that there is no direct correlation between dimethicone and hair loss. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology reveals that dimethicone helps to smooth the hair cuticle, which can actually reduce friction and hair breakage that leads to hair loss.


The Best Skin Care Products With Dimethicone

Dimethicone can help to give your skin care a smooth, luxurious slip. Here are some products with the popular ingredient. 

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream

This silky water cream is infused with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to lock in moisture while it strengthens the skin barrier. The lightweight texture melts into the skin without any lingering sticky residue or greasiness, which as we’ve learned so far, we can thank dimethicone for.

L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum

This highly potent brightening serum works to rapidly reduce the appearance of wrinkles, uneven skin tone and large pores while restoring the skin’s radiance. Add it to your morning routine for noticeably brighter, younger-looking skin.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum

This serum contains brightening niacinamide to target dark spots and hyperpigmentation for a clearer, luminous-looking complexion. It has a creamy, hydrating texture that melts into the skin without leaving behind an oily or tacky feeling.

L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Eye Treatment

You may not be able to actually go back in time, but you can look like you’re aging in reverse with this anti-aging eye treatment formulated with dimethicone. In just one week it helps reduce the look of wrinkles, puffiness and brightens the eye area. 

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Invisible UV Fluid

This lightweight sunscreen contains SPF 50 and is enhanced with UVA and UVB filters to protect your skin against the sun’s rays that cause burning and aging. It blends well with all skin tones and won’t leave behind a white cast.

L'Oréal Paris Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30

Formulated with hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, pro-retinol and SPF 30, this creamy day moisturizer keeps the skin hydrated all day while offering a layer of sun protection. Its combo of potent ingredients works to reduce wrinkles and firm and brighten the skin in just one week.


L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Pressed Night Moisturizer with Retinol + Niacinamide

Perfect for retinol newbies, this creamy night moisturizer is formulated with the powerful anti-aging and wrinkle-fighting retinol, and a complex of soothing ingredients to offset dryness (including dimethicone of course). It also contains niacinamide to help brighten the skin and even skin tone over time.


The Best Hair Care Products With Dimethicone 

Dimethicone in hair care is a hidden savior as it helps to smooth hair and make it more manageable while enhancing shine and body. Here are some products with the ingredient to add to your routine. 

L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Simply Clean Midnight Color Care Serum

This enriching hair serum smooths your hair and enhances shine for a sleek style. Add a pump to wet hair and watch how your hair air dries — it’ll be soft and easy to brush through.

L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Signature Masque, Color Care Hair Mask

This hydrating hair mask deep conditions strands to offer intense moisture, increased shine and reduced frizz. It works for all hair types and after one use, you’ll notice smoother hair that’s soft, more manageable and easy to detangle. 

L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, Heat Protectant

This hot tools primer goes on wet hair to smooth strands, provide enhanced style memory (read: help your voluminous blowout last) and offer heat protection up to 450 degrees. It also has 48-hour frizz control that helps to keep your style shiny and silky.

L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Repair Shampoo with Citric Acid

Dimethicone in shampoo helps to smooth hair, making it easier to brush and style without friction that can lead to breakage. This formula made with the ingredient also works to target hair damage from color, bleach or heat styling by strengthening weak hair bonds inside the hair cortex (the middle layer of the hair shaft). After a few washes, you’ll notice hair that feels  smoother and looks softer and less ravaged. Pair it with  L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Repair Conditioner with Citric Acid to get the best results. 

Next: Is Cold Water or Hot Water Better for Your Skin?


Photo Credit: Alyssa Kaplan

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