At CLOVE + HALLOW, we're all about transparency, especially when it comes to our ingredients. Lately we've been getting lots of questions about the dimethicone we use in our Liquid Skin Tint and Conceal + Correct formulas to improve their performance. (The ingredient provides improved slip and texture and makes products wear better on the skin.)
Despite dimethicone's bad rep, we believe in the safety, efficacy, and sustainability of the single-digit concentrations we use. Read on for our answers to the four most common misconceptions about the ingredient.
IT'S IRRITATING TO SENSITIVE SKIN.
On the whole, this isn’t true. Some people with sensitive skin have trouble with silicones, but it’s no different than a sensitivity to any other ingredient—it’s individual. Dimethicone is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic, and peer-reviewed studies and scientific journals demonstrate little to no irritation risk with dimethicone beyond individual sensitivity.
IT SUFFOCATES THE SKIN AND CAUSES ACNE.
Dimethicone's non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic status bears repeating here. Plus, due to its molecular structure (large with wide spaces between molecules), there is plenty of breathability. Silicones can actually benefit the skin due to conditioning properties and the ability to prevent water loss via a breathable barrier on the skin. Dimethicone is also found in most acne moisturizers and acne treatments. This wouldn’t be the case if it prevented them from working.
IT'S TOXIC FOR HUMANS.
Due to the previously mentioned size of the dimethicone molecule, it cannot penetrate the skin and thus poses no toxicity concerns. There are no peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate toxicity concerns from topically applied dimethicone.
IT'S BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.
It's true that dimethicone is non-biodegradable. However, studies show that while the biggest risk is to aquatic and marine life when dimethicone molecules end up at the bottom of the ocean, the risk is minimal. In these studies, there was no impact on the vibrancy of marine life where dimethicone molecules could be traced. Even when various marine animals ingested high concentrations of dimethicone, they did not have any correlated issues.
We understand dimethicone can sound scary, and choosing to forgo using products that contain it is totally fine! Our hope with this post is to share the data and science behind dimethicone—which is overwhelmingly neutral or positive—compared to other common silicones, such as cyclomethicone or cyclopentasiloxane. We hope this was helpful!
*A NOTE ON THE STUDIES REFERENCED HERE: Some sources discuss multiple silicones, however, we choose to use dimethicone based on pure dimethicone studies only. (Dimethicone copolymers and PEG-s would require separate research.)