Cyclopentasiloxane & Dimethicone: Are These Skincare Ingredients Safe?

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Does it put you off when you’re reading through a skincare product’s ingredient list and you come across names that you’ve never heard of, let alone can’t even pronounce? Many people feel this way, and understandably so. After all, so many brands have come under attack for including harmful chemicals and preservatives in their formulas, making it hardly surprising that skincare enthusiasts are now trying to understand exactly what it is that they’re putting onto their skin.

Enter cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone. Two ingredients that are increasingly appearing in so many different types of skin products. What exactly are they and are they actually safe to use on your skin? It’s time to find out.

What are Cyclopentasiloxane and Dimethicone?

Cyclopentasiloxane and Dimethicone

To put it simply, both dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane are silicones. A silicone is a slippery substance derived from silica. While this does mean that it’s technically a natural ingredient, the fact that silicones go through chemical processing after being extracted means that they’re classed as synthetics.

Since silicones have such a unique and versatile set of properties (they’re heat-resistant, have sealing abilities, and are rubber-like in texture), you’ll find them in everything from windshield coatings to medical implants.

However, some silicones are better than others. The reason why both dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane are extremely popular among skin and hair care brands is because they’re considered to be higher-quality silicones. They’re inexpensive to produce yet offer qualities that can help to treat skin conditions and alleviate skin concerns. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what silicones can do for your skin…

Why are Cyclopentasiloxane & Dimethicone Added to Skin Care Products?

They may have a bad reputation, but when it comes to cosmetics, silicones aren’t an ingredient that you should necessarily avoid. Here’s why:

Lubricating Dry Skin

One of the biggest benefits that silicone ingredients offer is their lubricating properties. Dimethicone silicones in particular are great for treating dry, itchy, and flaking skin, thanks to how they form a seal over the skin’s surface, trapping moisture beneath.

Silicones act as both an occlusive and an emollient, which is why many dermatologists will recommend a dimethicone cream for those suffering from dermatitis or severe dryness.

Anti-Aging Effects

If you follow an anti-aging skincare routine, then chances are that silicones are already in some of your favorite cosmetics. They’re commonly found in anti-aging formulas for a few reasons.

Woman applying anti aging cream on face

Firstly, their hydrating properties mean that silicones immediately give the skin a plump and voluminous appearance. Consequently, fine lines and wrinkles become less noticeable, especially since silicones settle within the tiny gaps in the skin, smoothing everything over.

Research shows that silicones are also able to thicken the skin [1], something that those with mature skin often struggle to do. The skin thins with age, which only makes wrinkles, sagging skin, and dark spots even worse. Thickening the epidermis back up will make your skin stronger, tighter, and more resilient to environmental damage.

Calming Redness and Irritation

Thanks to how they seal the skin, silicones are able to calm redness and irritation. Dimethicone creams in particular are effective at treating rosacea flare-ups [2], an inflammatory skin condition that causes facial redness.

Healing Scars

Whether from an acne breakout or another type of skin wound, some scars can seem to take forever to fade. Studies show that the use of silicone gels can help to speed this process up [3]. It all comes down to how silicones trap moisture into the skin – this promotes the healing process, enabling the skin to repair damaged tissue faster. Combine your silicone products with other lightening treatments and your scars will be gone in no time!

Improving the Texture of Skincare Products

People want their cosmetic products to feel pleasant to the touch. They don’t want to apply rough and lumpy textures to their skin – they’re looking for blends that look and feel silky and smooth.

However, some of the best skin care products out there definitely wouldn’t be able to conform to this without the use of silicones. Not only do silicones lubricate the skin, but they do the same for skin care and hair care formulas too, giving them that slippery touch that makes them enjoyable to apply.

Dimethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane in Hair Care Products

Woman with long hair inside a hairdresser room

In addition to skin care, silicones are used in hair care products too. They provide each strand of hair with a waterproof coating. This then prevents those hairs from losing moisture, while also blocking moisture from the environment, such as humidity, from seeping in. As a result, hair remains smooth and glossy, without any frizz.

If you use a heat protectant hair product, then you’ll probably notice silicones in this too. As mentioned earlier, silicones have heat-resistant properties. Coat your strands with hair products containing silicones before heat styling and you’ll be able to protect your locks from heat damage.

Since dimethicone is water-soluble, you’ll notice this silicone in hair products designed to be washed out, such as conditioners and masks. Cyclopentasiloxane, on the other hand, evaporates into the air, which is why it’s commonly found in hair care products designed to remain on the hair, such as serums.

Can Cyclopentasiloxane & Dimethicone Be Used on Acne-Prone Skin?

While some of the lighter types, such as cyclopentasiloxane, aren’t usually an issue, heavier silicones, such as dimethicone, can definitely be problematic for acne-prone skin. This isn’t because the silicones themselves will clog your pores – silicones are actually classed as non-comedogenic. However, the seal that they form over the surface of your skin could mean that other comedogenic substances, along with oil and dead cells, end up trapped within, where they’ll have no choice but to clog your pores and trigger a breakout.

It’s worth giving lighter silicones a try. However, if they do cause breakouts and you still want to experience their benefits, consider a silicone alternative instead. Vegetable glycerin is one option, while certain botanical waxes and oils work well too.

Do Cyclopentasiloxane & Dimethicone Have Any Side Effects?

With both ingredients classed as being non-irritating, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, you would think that silicones come without any side effects. Unfortunately, that’s not strictly the case. As mentioned, dimethicone can be an issue for those suffering from acne, while cyclopentasiloxane can sometimes cause mild irritation in the skin.

Other than that, silicones don’t cause any major side effects. Both ingredients have been deemed as safe for consumer use, which is why they’re likely to be a mainstay in cosmetics and hair products. That said, you’ll never find a product containing 100% silicones, meaning that there will always be other ingredients in a silicone product that could cause a reaction. For this reason, always perform a patch test before using a new product on your face for the first time.

If you do happen to experience side effects after using products containing silicone, stop using that product immediately. Even if you don’t see cyclopentasiloxane or dimethicone on the ingredients list, there could still be other silicones in it. There are too many to list here, but silicone ingredients will usually end in “-siloxane” or “-cone”.

FAQs

Woman applying hydrating cream on skin

What is the difference between cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone?

Dimethicone is heavier and more hydrating, whereas cyclopentasiloxane is thinner and lighter.

Is dimethicone bad for your skin?

Dimethicone silicones can sometimes trigger breakouts in oily skin types. However, using silicone regularly can be extremely beneficial for those with dry or mature skin types.

Is cyclopentasiloxane a silicone?

Yes, cyclopentasiloxane is classed as a silicone.

Is dimethicone bad in makeup?

No, dimethicone is safe to be used in makeup products.

Conclusion

As you can see, not all unheard-of cosmetics ingredients need to be avoided. Granted, cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone may not be on your must-have list, but they won’t act as your skin’s mortal enemy either. Not only are these silicones able to treat certain skin conditions, but they’ll also leave your skin (as well as your hair) looking and feeling smooth and soft.

References

[1] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2012/923134/
[2] https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(06)03172-0/fulltext
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2918339/

About The Author

Courtney Randle

As someone who had problems with her skin in the past, I’m glad I can help people find what works for there's. All products reviewed are thoroughly tested for quality.

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