Why Is Dimethicone in All My Skin Care? We Asked the Experts

December 26, 2019
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | skincare.com by L'Oréal
Why Is Dimethicone in All My Skin Care? We Asked the Experts

We get it: reading the labels on skin care is largely and undeniably overwhelming; it pretty much resembles a random generation of numbers, letters and commas galore. That being said, understanding the ingredients that make up everything from your moisturizers to your masks is important. To help kick-start the decoding process, we did a deep dive on one of the most popular ingredients in skin-care, dimethicone. To get the lowdown on just what this ingredient does and why you find it in skincare products, we spoke with board-certified dermatologists Dr. Morgan Rabach and Dr. Jeanine Downie. Read on for the inside scoop about one of the most popular silicones in skin care and makeup. 

What Is Dimethicone? 

Dimethicone is a silicone polymer used in everything from skin care to hair care. “It helps the flip and the glide of the products on the hair and the slip and the glide of the products on the skin,” says Dr. Downie. She adds that the ingredient is oil-free and lightweight. As to why it’s so popular? Well, Dr. Rabach explains that dimethicone’s fluid properties help add a silky and smooth texture to skin care. “It helps temporarily to fill gaps between the cells. It also acts as a barrier over skin’s surface, so it’s used in moisturizers and as a protective ingredient for extra dry skin and wounds.” She adds that it's also useful for preventing ingredients from separating.

Will Dimethicone Cause Breakouts? 

If acne is a skin-care concern, don’t let the silicone factor scare you away. Dr. Downie explains that even though dimethicone is a silicone polymer, it’s not occlusive and is lightweight, unlike some other silicones. In short, dimethicone shouldn’t clog your pores or lead to pimples. While the ingredient is largely a no-brainer in skin care, Dr. Rabach says that some people can have an allergic reaction, or experience contact dermatitis, from dimethicone. Most people, however, don’t have any issues with it. “I would say a tiny subset of the population has allergies to dimethicone, but for the most part it’s one of those ingredients we like, we use and then we use it some more,” says Dr. Downie. 

Where and When Should Dimethicone Go in Your Routine? 

Given that the ingredient is widely used in moisturizers and skin protectants across the board, chances are it’s already incorporated into your everyday routine. That being said, Dr. Rabach emphasizes that layering products containing dimethicone over top of your active ingredients, like retinoids or antioxidants, is key. “They form a great skin barrier and skin sealant.” We like to seal in our nighttime routine with the dimethicone-infused SkinCeuticals Skin Renew Overnight Oily Moisturizer

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