What is Dimethicone

Dimethicone is a part of the silicone family that comes in the form of a colorless liquid. Multiple personal products use this silicone in their formulas as an antifoaming agent, a distributor for active ingredients, hair conditioner, lice treatment, anti-bloating agent, and skin protectant. Studies on humans show this chemical does not irritate the skin or increase sensitization, making it an ideal product for use in treating those with delicate or damaged skin.

Manufacturers use dimethicone to enhance the performance of products used for human topical application or ingestion. Ingesting this product may help reduce gas and bloating or prevent foaming in foods. More often, skincare products have PDMS as part of their formulas to make them better at moisturizing or helping the active ingredients to spread evenly.

As a product proven safe for ingestion and use on skin, dimethicone is a useful ingredient in many preparations across multiple industries. Its various forms include fluids, resins, emulsions, and solids, but often it appears as a fluid of emulsion in many cosmetic preparations.

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Dimethicone Uses

Few products have as many uses as dimethicone. Also known as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), this silicon-based substance offers numerous benefits for personal care products and more. When incorporated into skincare products, this polymer improves the texture and performance of these cosmetics. While commonly used in formulations for personal care goods, PDMS has multiple uses outside the cosmetics industry. Medical, industrial, food, and other sectors also extensively use dimethicone. Discover more about this siloxane and its many applications across industries.

Like other silicones, dimethicone features as a prominent chemical in preparations for human use. With its non-irritating nature, dimethicone has applications in the medical, cosmetics, and food industries.

The cosmetics industry frequently uses dimethicone to enhance textures, spreading, and performance of many makeup products. Recognizing what this chemical does for cosmetics is critical in determining how and why to use it. One of the many uses of dimethicone in cosmetics is in a silicone elastomer gel. This type of product has acrosslinking of dimethicone in its structure. It may have cross polymer in the name of the ingredient. As when used as a surfactant, dimethicone silicone elastomer gel does not need heat to mix and thicken cosmetics. In addition to thickening cosmetics, PDMS-containing elastomer gels also improve the texture of makeup products such as lipstick and foundations spread smoothly, and do not have a tacky surface, or leave the skin feeling greasy. With lipophilic compounds, PDMS elastomer gels stabilize the finished product, preserving its texture and preventing separation or breakdown of components. Perfumes, sunscreens, and anti-aging serums all benefit from the addition of dimethicone.

Because they create a layer in the formulation, cross polymers, like PDMS, can harbor active ingredients for slower release, producing longer-lasting results. Perfumes and colors mixed with the cross polymer layer will have a more lasting effect than those not. Elastomers have multiple points during the manufacturing process where they can incorporate into the makeup formula. For instance, silicone elastomer gels may mix into the silicone or oil of the compound before emulsifying the product. These gels still work well when added after emulsifying, too. Adding dimethicone to silicone elastomer gels helps these products blend better by reducing their viscosity without affecting their performance. Without PDMS products, modern makeup would not feel as comfortable or last as long as it does. The light texture and silky smoothness of today's
cosmetics are only possible through the use of silicones, such as dimethicone.

Dimethicone's ability to reduce foaming makes it an excellent addition to food. Antifoaming agents added to oil prevent it from bubbling over and splattering when heated. They can also prevent excessive foaming of alcohol and other beverages during and after production.

Silicone-based antifoaming products, like dimethicone, may be an ingredient in the food or part of the packaging. If added to the packaging, the antifoaming product moves into the food slowly from contact with the package. These silicone-based products come in fluids, emulsions, and compounds. The form of PDMS added to a food or packaging depends on whether the food or beverage has a fat or water base.

Since PDMS has no color or odor, its addition to foods does not change the appearance or flavor. Because silicones have tolerance of high temperatures, they are safe for use in deep frying oils, which reach temperatures of hundreds of degrees.

The uses of PDMS come from its many benefits that extend beyond a single application or industry.

Hydraulic fluids must perform adequately at a variety of temperatures and pressures. Silicones such as dimethicone can withstand the extremes of heat and cold necessary in hydraulic systems. PDMS accounts for only one type of silicone used for hydraulic applications.

While silicones perform well in hydraulic systems, PDMS can provide foam control in several applications. Engine oil, hydraulic fluid, and transmission fluids are some products that benefit from the antifoaming properties of silicones.

In the medical field, PDMS has multiple uses. It can serve as an internally taken antiflatulence or antacid medicine. While still used as an antiflatulence treatment, dimethicone no longer is part of antacid formulations, replaced by simethicone. As it helps reduce foaming in hydraulic fluids, dimethicone does the same in the human body. By reducing the creation of foam and gas, it helps decrease the incidence of flatulence. Studies have shown nolong-lasting or severe side effects from ingesting dimethicone for antiflatulence.

It also plays an essential role in treatments for dry skin, diaper rash, and radiation burns. Dimethicone acts as an emollient, which traps moisture in the skin, allowing the body to heal its dry or damaged surface. PDMS does not harm the already damaged skin. The record of dimethicone not causing skin sensitivity or irritation is well known. In fact, the FDA recognizes this product as safe for use as a topical treatment in infants, children, and adults in formulations up to 30% dimethicone.

Another topical use for dimethicone is in treating head lice. Unlike other products that act as neurotoxins and allow the insects to build up resistance, dimethicone suffocates the pests. Studies have shown even 100% dimethicone for treating head lice is safe for children. PDMS traps water against the head, blocking air from lice adults, nymphs, and embryos. Dimethicone has an effectiveness of curing 94.5% of those with head lice after one treatment compared to only 66.7% with permethrin, the leading insecticide used for lice.

While dimethicone has some medical uses, it plays a vital role in the cosmetics industry, where it improves numerous products.

Cross polymers also play a role in improving the spreading of deodorants and other personal care products. These polymers enhance the performance and smoothness of the products. But this is not the only use of dimethicone in this category.

When adding dimethicone to talc, it gives the talc a softer feel, better spreading, improved adhesion, and higher capabilities of repelling water. Other personal care products containing talc could also benefit from these attributes of PDMS. The silicone addition works well in both emulsions and anhydrous systems.

Other personal care products use non-volatile dimethicones, which do not react with other chemicals. Low and medium viscosity PDMS products appear as ingredients in skin creams and lotions, sunscreen, bath oil, and hair care products. High viscosity PDMS has use in hair care products. With non-volatile PDMS added, hair care products spread evenly along the entire hair shaft, locking in moisture and hair color while evenly conditioning the hair. Mixing non-volatile dimethicone into personal care products usually requires low heat and emulsifying waxes to incorporate into the oil portion of the formula.

Other uses of dimethicone in personal care products include two-in-one shampoos and hairsprays. In conditioning shampoos, the PDMS acts as a conditioner, letting the user skip a second product. For hairsprays, dimethicone copolyol acts as a plasticizer, improving the hold of the spray.

Silicone surfactants include both a silicone part and a water-soluble substance. One of the most commonly used in this category is dimethicone copolyol. This chemical assists in preparations that combine water and silicone.

Surfactants aid as wetting agents. These agents can help a water-based product to spread evenly across a surface instead of beading or clumping together. When using silicone surfactants, selecting lower molecular weights will reduce the wetting time.

This classification of surfactants reduces surface tension, depending on the number of methylene or methyl groups. When a molecule contains more methylene groups in the silicone, it has a higher level of surface tension than silicones with more methyl groups.

Dimethicone is a surfactant as well as an emulsifier, unifying water and oil parts of a mixture. For emulsions, mix dimethicone with the oil portion and prepare the water and electrolyte part of the mix separately. Slowly add the water to the oil mixture then combine at high speed with a blender until the result has a uniform texture with tiny particles. Dimethicone does not require heat for emulsification, allowing its use in a more manageable form of the process.

Dimethicone Benefits

Benefits of dimethicone make it useful in many applications and industries. The cosmetics and personal care sectors make frequent use of these advantages of PDMS in their products. Without dimethicone, food, hair conditioners, and moisturizing creams would not perform as well as they do.

Antifoaming properties prevent the creation of excessive bubbles after shaking the product. This attribute benefits food and pharmaceutical products. Medicines use this property to reduce intestinal and stomach gas. Food products, such as oils and beverages, do not have their flavors or textures affected by excessive foam.

Reducing foam also helps prevent problems with texture and concentration of medications and food that use fermentation in their production. By keeping foam at bay, dimethicone helps ensure the efficacy and performance of these products.

While antifoaming attributes improve foods, the ability of PDMS to hold in moisture takes it from culinary production facilities into cosmetics factories.

Because dry conditions, sunlight, and pollution can dry out and make hair lifeless in just a few days, hair conditioners are a critical aspect of personal care. Making hair soft, manageable, and healthy becomes possible with quality conditioners. Silicones in their emulsion form blend in well with the oils and waters of the ingredients. Fluid forms do not mix as well with water or oil.

Amodimethicone replaces some of the methyl groups in PDMS with an amino group. This chemical appears in ingredient lists for both standard and leave-in conditioners. The addition of the amino group enhances the hair's ability to remain strong during combing and stay soft when dry.

Forms of dimethicone also transform conventional shampoos into two-in-one formulas. The PDMS conditions the hair at the same time the shampoo cleans it.

PDMS helps to hold the hair's moisture inside. Preventing drying out of the hair shaft leaves it moisturized and shiny. Hair dyes also last longer with the use of the right conditioners that keep the coloring in the hair. Incorporating dimethicone into hair conditioners improves their performance in making hair soft and healthy-looking.

In moisturizing products, dimethicone acts as an emollient, which creates a layer of oil on top of the skin to lock in moisture drawn to the surface by humectants in the product.

Emollients that protect the skin from moisture loss prevent further drying. Humectants pull moisture to the surface of the skin. Without emollients, the natural water from the skin would quickly evaporate, further drying out the skin. Because dimethicone and similar products seal the surface, moisture remains close long enough for the skin to restore itself.

Dimethicone does not constitute the entire formula. Skin creams and lotions can have amaximum of 30% PDMS in their makeups. Since PDMS has several studies backing its safety and ability not to irritate the skin, reactions to lotions containing this product may come from other ingredients in the remaining 70% of the formula.

These properties enhance other moisturizing cosmetic products, not just skin creams and prescription preparations. As with the other advantages of dimethicone, its ability to protect the skin makes it a valuable chemical for the cosmetics and personal care manufacturing sectors.

Get Dimethicone From Brenntag North America

Brenntag is a top specialty and chemical distributor. Our company's commitment is to connect leading manufacturers around the world with our customers for winning partnerships that last. Let us work with you to access the chemicals and specialty substances your company needs to create better-performing products.

Our silicones include those from well-known names like Wacker and Koster Keunen. These are just two of the well-regarded companies you will find when you partner with us for your dimethicone. Do you still have questions about PDMS and how you can use it for your applications?

Contact us at Brenntag to learn more about how you can reap the benefits of this polymer in your product lines.

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