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One of the goals of this site is to help you identify toxic ingredients so you can avoid them.
So today, I want to address the question – is dimethicone toxic?
You’ve probably seen it on your makeup or hair care labels and wondered what it was.
So let’s learn what it is and then determine whether or not it has a place in our toxin-free makeup bags.
What Is Dimethicone?
If you’re into cosmetics and hair care, you’ve probably heard about dimethicone. It is also known as Polydimethylsiloxane and Dimethylpolysiloxane.
But what exactly is it?
Dimethicone is a silicon-based polymer used as a lubricant and conditioning agent. It’s known for its non-tackiness, non-greasiness, spreadability and emulsifying properties.
Here are some of its uses when it comes to your skin and hair:
- It creates a protective cover on the skin. Supposedly, this helps lock in moisture, leaving it hydrated for longer.
- It fills uneven texture and fine lines on the skin.
- It contributes to the smoothness associated with primers, foundations and lotions.
- It’s supposed to help hair appear shinier and smoother.
Common Products That Contain Dimethicone
- nail polish
- lip gloss, lipstick, lip liner, lip balm
- moisturizers with SPF
- shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, pretty much any hair styling aide
- eye shadow, brow liner (check out our guide to natural eyeliners)
- foundation, facial powder
- bronzer, highlighter, concealer
- hair color and bleaching
- styling gel, lotion, baby lotion,
- anti-aging treatments
- BB cream, facial cleansers
- makeup remover
- serums, hand cream, body oil
And the list goes on.
As you can see, there is no shortage of products that contain dimethicone on the market today.
But does commonality equal safety?
Let’s take a look.
Why Dimethicone Is Bad for Your Skin
According to the Food and Drug Authority, dimethicone is generally a safe ingredient for personal care products, and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review concluded that it’s safe for use in cosmetics.
Basically, these organizations came to such conclusions based largely on the fact that dimethicone does not cause skin cancer, nor does it induce organ toxicity.
But what about less serious issues that still remain a health concern?
Other research has shown that using dimethicone hinders our skin from its normal activities such as temperature regulation, sweating, and removing dead skin cells.
And if you have sensitive skin, dimethicone is known to induce allergic reactions.
Plus, frequent use can actually dry out your skin as it interferes with the body’s natural hydration processes.
As a result, fine lines and wrinkles can become more noticeable.
Other Potential Side Effects of Dimethicone
Dimethicone is associated with frequent breakouts and blackheads because this artificial coating traps everything beneath it, including impurities, bacteria and sebum.
There is also a risk of skin irritation that is well known by manufacturers, once again because of its coating and trapping properties.
How to Avoid Dimethicone
So dimethicone may not be health damaging, but it can certainly damage your skin.
And sometimes, it’s not just about is something “bad” for me. We also need to determine if it’s good for us – what’s the benefit, does it provide any value, will it nourish my skin?
When it comes to dimethicone, the only thing it has to offer is synthetic smoothing.
And that can be achieved much more naturally.
So if you want to avoid dimethicone, become a label reader.
And remember, dimethicone can hide behind other names as well, including polydimethylsiloxane and dimethylpolysiloxane.
Some other names to look for include:
- Phenyl trimethicone
- Dimethicone copolyol
Natural Alternatives to Dimethicone
There’s no reason to smooth your hair and skin synthetically when there are plenty of natural options that can do the job just as well – without the potential side effects.
In fact, there are a few fantastic dimethicone-free makeup brands. (click the link to read about them)
Here are a few of my other favorites (including some DIYs!).
For the Hair
We can make our hair shinier and smoother with the use of Aloe Vera, coconut oil, jojoba oil and olive oil. They all serve as natural conditioners.
Here’s a simple way to deep condition your hair:
Wet your hair, then comb it with 1 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil from roots
to tips. Next, cover it with a plastic wrap or shower cap and leave for 30 minutes, then rinse.
An Egg Hair Mask is another great option.
Wet your hair. Pour the egg on your head and spread it out with a comb. Make sure it reaches the tips. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Shampoo as usual. Rinsing with cold water may provide even shinier results.
An Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse is another great option.
Shampoo your hair as usual, but don’t use conditioner. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of water. Combine 2 -3 tablespoons if you have very long hair.
Pour the mixture onto your hair and comb it to your tips. Leave it for 5 minutes, then rinse.
For applying a smooth finish to your hair, you can just use a small amount of the following oils:
- Olive Oil
- Almond Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Argan Oil
- Caster Oil
- Coconut Oil
For the Skin
There are also alternatives for skincare products that contain dimethicone. You can usually find most of them inside your own kitchen!
- Homemade Honey Mask – to exfoliate your face
- Rich Avocado Mask – to soothe dry skin
- Olive Oil – as a solution for dry skin
- Sunflower Seed Oil – as a natural moisturizer
- Shea Butter – for the skin and hair
- Grapeseed Oil – contains antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties
Possible Benefits of Dimethicone
If there’s one area where I might compromise and use dimethicone it would be for getting rid of head lice.
Dimethicone has been used as a safe and effective treatment for lice for both kids and adults. Its effectiveness has been tested among children ages newborn to 16 years old and has been found to be non toxic.
It eradicates both adult and nymph lice. As for how it works, dimethicone kills lice by the disruption of water homeostasis and via suffocation.
Besides lice treatments, dimethicone is also successfully used in topical creams and ointments for different skin conditions.
Some popular treatments for dermatitis and eczema include betamethasone, clobetasol and hydrocortisone – all of which contain dimethicone in order to help spread their active ingredients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Dimethicone safe?
Generally, it is considered safe for use in cosmetics and other personal products.
But according to experts, there are some types of silicons that can be dangerous to the environment and to humans as well.
Is Dimethicone natural?
No, it is a silicon oil that’s manmade in the laboratory.
Is Dimethicone in cosmetics harmful?
No, its hazard level is low. But it may have some side effects such as skin irritation, especially those with sensitive skin.
Can Dimethicone clog pores?
Yes, it can clog your pores, which is one of its primary areas of concern.
Is Dimethicone a bad silicon?
Since it is an artificially made silicon in the lab, we cannot deny that it may have some bad effects. However, there are several of silicons that are far worse. And in comparison, dimethicone would be considered a less toxic silicon.
When it comes to the question of is dimethicone toxic, the short answer would be no.
But the better question to ask would be is dimethicone good for my skin? And that answer would also be no.