Dimethicone vs. Siloxane In Your Personal Care Products

Separating Complicated Information From Headlines

Dimethicone vs. Siloxane In Your Personal Care Products

A little while ago, I wrote about how news stories don't always paint the full picture in regards to how cosmetics ingredients function in the human body. I was reminded again this week why it is so important to understand that a simple headline cannot actually explain the complexity of how cosmetic formulations work.
There is such confusion about certain ingredients, because so much press coverage and media attention have been put on personal care products of late, and yet these stories often omit incredibly important facts that could indeed ease consumer concerns.
I want to clarify the dimethicone vs. siloxane issue a little.
While technically true that dimethicone can be a siloxane (and I want to stress the "CAN"), it requires some very specific compounding for this to be true. It depends on the actual construction of the molecule.
The concern is the allergic reaction rate on skin, the occlusion level on the skin, and, of course, the interruption of skin's natural functions—all of which are heightened when a pure siloxane compound is used on the skin.
Dimethicone, in its purest synthetic form, does not cause occlusion on the skin—it actually is semi-permeable, which means it allows the exchange of oxygen, nitrogen, and water (respiration) on the skin, has no known toxicity, and, in fact, has an incredibly low allergic reaction rate (less than 1 in 100, 000). Even the EWG, which regular readers know I do not use as a resource for information, gives dimethicone a low toxicity rating.
Dimethicone is used in many medical applications, but most usually in topical medications because it allows the skin to function as normal and will not inhibit the healing process.
Here is the actual science:
Siloxanes are a form of  a chemical bond of silicone and oxygen in a very specific manner—Si-O-Si. This link must be in this order, uninterrupted by any other element in order to be classified as a siloxane, and the link can be either linear or cyclic and that is why you will see some compounds called cyclopentasiloxane or just simple pentasiloxane. All this refers to is the molecular structure of the molecule (cyclic chains are harder to break as they are closed in a circle and linear ones are straight lines, and thus easier to manipulate). Regardless of the structure, the Si-O-Si link is always in tact and not interrupted.
Dimethicone is also a form of a chemical bond between silicone and oxygen, but is broken with Carbon and Hydrogen, thus changing its nature completely. Dimethicone is written as [SiO(CH3)2], note there is no Si-O-Si link of any kind. Thus in its pure state, dimethicone is not actually a siloxane bond.
What does this mean?
It means that dimethicone does not have the same properties as a siloxane, other than that of being emollient. Dimethicone neither occludes the skin nor does it have high reaction rate on the skin like a siloxane will.
Now (and this is where it gets complicated), dimethicone, when manipulated at the molecular level, CAN be a siloxane. For example, CH3[Si(CH3)2O]2nSi(CH3)3 were n = [SiO(CH3)2] is also dimethicone, but an altered form where the molecule forms an Si-O-Si link. This is called a cross polymer. Technically, it is called polymethylsiloxane and must be listed as such on an INCI list. I think this is where a lot of confusion happens with dimethicone.
However, in this case, dimethicone is part of a larger molecule that contains other elements and changes the behaviour of the dimethicone completely.  
It's like saying because water is part of lemonade then lemonade must have the same properties and will behave the same as pure water. This simply is not true.  
So what does all this mean?
While a siloxane can be dimethicone, dimethicone is not always a siloxane.
The easiest way for a consumer to tell the difference is by the suffix -ane or -one. This does not, however, indicate if the raw material being synthesized is petrochemical or not (which is an entirely different conversation). There are no laws regarding sources on labels.  
What I can tell you is that most dimethicone (and all silicones ending in the suffix -one) are now produced by synthesizing silica, which is either extracted from sandstone or common beach sand. This is a relatively new process due to the fact that the petrochemical version of synthesis is no longer desirable from a marketing perspective
So to summarize, it is my opinion that siloxane should not be referred to AKA dimethicone, even though many consumers believe it to be.
I know a lot of publications (i.e. so-called consumer advocacy books) say to look for dimethicone on the ingredient list in order to avoid siloxane compounds, but this is simply because if the actual list of ingredients were to be published, the reader would give up.
Here is a list of dimethicone derivatives that form the Si-O-Si link that would be found on a cosmetic INCI list:
  • acrylates/bis-hydroxypropyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • behenyl dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • bis-phenylisopropyl phenylisopropyl dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • bis-vinyldimethicone/bis-isobutyl PPG-20 crosspolymer

  • bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • bis-vinyldimethicone/ PEG-10 dimethicone crosspolymer

  • bis-vinyldimethicone/PPG-20 crosspolymer

  • butyldimethicone methacrylate/methyl methacrylate crosspolymer

  • C30-45 alkyl cetearyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • C4-24 alkyl dimethicone/divinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • C30-45 alkyl dimethicone/polycyclohexene oxide crosspolymer

  • cetearyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • cetearyl dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • cetyl dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • cetyl hexacosyl dimethicone/bis-vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • crotonic acid/vinyl C8-12 isoalkyl esters/VA/bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/bis-isobutyl PPG-20 crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone/silsesquioxane crosspolymer

  • dimethicone crosspolymer

  • dimethicone crosspolymer-3

  • dimethicone/divinyldimethicone/silsesquioxane crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/lauryl dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/PEG-10 crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/PEG-10/15 crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/PEG-15 crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/phenyl vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/polyglycerin-3 crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/PPG-20 crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/titanate crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • dimethicone/vinyltrimethylsiloxysilicate crosspolymer

  • diphenyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • diphenyl dimethicone/vinyl diphenyl dimethicone/silsesquioxane crosspolymer

  • divinyldimethicone/dimethicone crosspolymer

  • hydroxypropyl dimethicone/polysorbate 20 crosspolymer

  • isopropyl titanium triisostearate/triethoxysilylethyl polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • lauryl dimethicone PEG-15 crosspolymer

  • lauryl dimethicone/polyglycerin-3 crosspolymer

  • lauryl polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • PEG-10 dimethicone crosspolymer

  • PEG-12 dimethicone crosspolymer

  • PEG-8 dimethicone/polysorbate 20 crosspolymer

  • PEG-12 dimethicone/bis-isobutyl PPG-20 crosspolymer

  • PEG-12 dimethicone/PPG-20 crosspolymer

  • PEG-10 dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • PEG-10/lauryl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • PEG-15/lauryl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • PEG-15/lauryl polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • perfluorononyl dimethicone/methicone/amodimethicone crosspolymer

  • polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • polyglyceryl-3/lauryl polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • silicone quaternium-16/glycidoxy dimethicone crosspolymer

  • styrene/acrylates/dimethicone acrylate crosspolymer

  • trifluoropropyl dimethicone/PEG-10 crosspolymer

  • trifluoropropyl dimethicone/trifluoropropyl 2 divinyldimethicone crosspolymer

  • trifluoropropyl dimethicone/vinyl trifluoropropyl crosspolymer

  • vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer

  • vinyldimethyl/trimethylsiloxysilicate/ dimethicone crosspolymer

  • vinyldimethyl/trimethylsiloxysilicate stearyl dimethicone crosspolymer 

  • dimethicone/silsesquioxane crosspolymer

  • trimethylsiloxysilicate/dimethicone crosspolymer

  • vinyl dimethicone/lauryl/behenyl dimethicone crosspolymer

  • vinyl dimethicone/lauryl dimethicone

Daunting list, isn't it? So it becomes easier for news stories and so-called experts to simply say "dimethicone" is the same as "siloxane," which it actually is not.
You will find simple dimethicone (and even Cyclomethicone or Simethicone) are not to be found on this list at all. An accurate AKA list for siloxane compounds (derived from dimethicone) is actually rather lengthy and complicated.
It quickly becomes apparent why this topic (and really any of product integrity) is much more complex than the latest newspaper article about personal care products.



Beauty: BUSTED! Razor Pit Review

This Recent Find Has Already Paid For Itself

Beauty: BUSTED! Razor Pit Review

razor pit shaver

Most readers know I am often nonplussed by cosmetics claims. So many of them are just ludicrious with their claims that I simply shake my head in amazement that they can actually be advertised.

I spend a lot of my time talking about the difference between marketing and facts when it comes to cosmetics products.

So when I actually stumbled upon a cosmetic product that lives up to its claims, I am so excited I want to tell everyone about it. Fortunately, I have this platform to do so.

I was recently making a personal appearance in Ottawa, and during a small break, I wandered around the store looking at the various cosmetics products on the shelf. It's actually my favourite past time.

A curious item struck my interest and I found myself circling back to it several times. Eventually I asked one of the sales associates, "Does this really work?"

Every single member of the staff raved about the prodct—they all own one and every one of them said I had to buy it. It is not often I get an entire sales team with such excitement.

While Razor Pit is marketed to men, it certainly can be used by anyone who owns a razor. Anyone shaving any part of their body really should go out and buy one of these right now.

I bought one and have been using it for the past three weeks—usually I would have replaced the blade on my razor three times, and yet I am still using the same razor blade shave after shave. No razor burn, no irritation, no ingrowns . . . nothing. Every time I use the Razor Pit, it is like using a fresh blade on my face. And it takes literally 10 seconds to use, so really no extra time required on my morning ritual.

Razor Pit ($35 one time purchase)

Razor Pit calls itself a blade sharpener, but it is actually a blade cleaner. The reality is razor blades actually do not become dull after a few uses, rather they become coated with microscopic skin, hair, and debris, which prevents the blade from actually connecting with the area being shaved. So with each use of the blade it becomes more difficult to get a close and irritation-free shave. The problem is that these particles are so small, simply rinsing the blade will not remove them. Barbers know this and that is why they always prep a blade before use (a barber uses a wide peice of leather called a strop)—they are not actually sharpening their blades, but rather cleaning them so the already fine blade will connect smoothly with the surface of the skin.

Razor Pit actually removes the particles so the blades themselves can do the very job for which they were intended.


1. A one time purchase. It retails for about the cost of a 10-pack of razor blades.

2. Increases the use of a single razor blade to 150 shaves—that is about 5 months of daily shaving! (I have been using the same blade now for 21 days. I will let you know when it actually dies. Usually I replace my blade every 5 days.)

3. Stores razor so no extra space needed in the bathroom.

4. Takes only seconds to use each day (less than 10 to be exact).

5. Works with all razor blades.


1. Storage space does not fit all size razors.

2. When wet it is very slippery, so it cannot be stored in the shower (I shave in the shower, so this kind of annoyed me).


This product is absolutely a money saving cosmetic accessory. For about the price of a pack of blades this product will end up saving its user hundreds of dollars per year.

Here's the math for me:

$29.99 for a 10 pack of blades, each blade lasts 5 days=$224.93 per year in blades.

Razor Pit $35, extended the life of a single blade by a factor of over 4 (and that is just so far). Even if I changed my blade today I would still save $168.70 this year. If the product actually does increase each blade to 150 uses (as advertised), I will save $215.93 in the next year.

Any way you do the math, this product is worth the buy.

Check out these other Beauty: Busted! Reviews for Mac Cleanse Off Oil and Ombrelle Sunscreen.


The 5 Most Common Misleading Cosmetic Marketing Claims

When Marketing Is Presented As Fact

The 5 Most Common Misleading Cosmetic Marketing Claims

pile of cosmetics

The cosmetics industry is very good at convincing consumers that marketing language is indeed fact. The level of misleading claims is staggering. When I review products one of my criteria is if the product can deliver on the marketing claims. Seldom do product deliver on their implied claims.

Here are the five most common marketing claims that simply cannot live up to their impressions.

1. All-Natural

This claim means absolutely nothing as everything in the biosphere is "natural." The misleading implication is that the product is somehow organic, green or some other variation of these themes. Reality is the term "all-natural" has no regulation and since all ingredients are found in nature technically this label can be applied to any cosmetic product. Marketers know that "natural" is always associated with "safer" yet the terminology simply means that the formula contains ingredients which appear in nature. All ingredients appear in nature — safety is another issue altogether.

2. Chemical-Free

This is just plain wrong. Everything used in a cosmetic is a chemical. Water is a chemical. It is simply impossible to create a cosmetic product without using chemicals to do so. This claim is also used to denote safety but it is simply just plain incorrect.  

3. Hypoallergenic

This is a made up word that has no medical meaning. It does not denote any special testing or formulating in any way.  In 1975 the FDA tried to regulate the word and create an industry standard for its application to cosmetics. However, the Estee Lauder corporation was successful is challenging this in court.  To this day the word has no real meaning when applied to cosmetics. Any cosmetic can be labelled hypoallergenic. This is misleading because consumers have been convinced hypoallergenic products are more gentle and less likely to trigger a reaction. Products labelled hypoallergenic are in no way more gentle or less likely to trigger an allergy than a product which is not labelled hypoallergenic.  

4. Patented Product

Cosmetics companies love to list patents to describe their products. Consumers are convinced patented means the formula has been proven to work as described. However, a patent is relatively easy to grant based on some very minimal criteria. Patents do not prove, in any way, the product actually performs as described. In fact, to gain a patent a product does not even have to prove it works at all.  It simply has to prove it is presenting its use in a unique fashion. Guess, for what, the majority of cosmetics patents are granted — packaging design. Packaging has absolutely nothing to do with the efficacy of a formula. One step worse is "patent pending" this means that the company has filed for a patent but one may never even be issued.

5. Reduces the Appearances of Wrinkles

Every anti-ageing product carries this claim. The words imply something that is simply not biologically possible. This misleads consumers to think the product can remove a wrinkle or reverse the ageing process. It simply is not possible. The word "appearance" is the caveat here. By including this word marketers get off the hook for any product that does not remove a wrinkle. The appearance of a wrinkle can simply be diminished through moisturization. All moisturizers reduce the appearance of wrinkles — but guess what — after 12 hours the wrinkles reappear as the moisturizer stops working.

Why to see other beauty BUSTED? Find out if Bio Oil is effective or just a scam and see my top picks in sunscreen