Dimethicone at a Glance
- Commonly used emollient, known for its gentleness and silky feel.
- Recognized as a skin protectant (in concentrations 1-30%) by the U.S. FDA.
- Popular in oil-free moisturizers, thanks to its hydration-enhancing, non-greasy finish.
- May also be used sunscreen formulation to help the actives distribute evenly on skin.
- Considered synthetic, even though it’s derived from natural silicon.
Dimethicone is a type of silicone (technically known as a non-volatile/linear silicone). It is one of the most frequently used emollient (softening) ingredients in moisturizers, well known for its gentleness and effectiveness.
Dimethicone is recognized as a “skin protectant” by the U.S. FDA, when used in over-the-counter products in concentrations of 1-30%. It forms an air-permeable barrier that works to prevent moisture loss, so skin better retains hydration, while still allowing natural perspiration to evaporate. It imparts a wonderfully silky (but not greasy) feel, which makes it especially popular in oil-free moisturizers.
Dimethicone may also be used with other ingredients such as alumina to coat zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in sunscreen formulation to help the actives distribute evenly on skin, providing uniform protection.
Dimethicone is considered a synthetic ingredient, even though it’s derived from natural silicon. It has a long track record of being recognized as safe in cosmetic products. Visit our in-depth article for more information on the safety (and benefits) of silicones used in skin care products.
FDA Code of Federal Regulations, April 2020, ePublication
International Journal of Toxicology, May 2014, pages 65S-115S
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, May 2014, pages 36-44
Dermatologic Therapy, May 2012, pages 229-233
Clinics in Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 345-348
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, January 2008, pages 19-33
Skin Research and Technology, May 2000, pages 77-80
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About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!