By Khanak Mehta
When you think about your favourite moisturiser, do you immediately imagine a smooth, velvety texture that’s silky to the touch? Well, while some of its ingredients may have a role to play here, you really need to be thanking dimethicone for that pleasing tactile experience. This might be a new term for you, but it has most likely been on the ingredient labels of your holy grail skincare products for quite a while now.
A quick online search brings up a variety of voices, both advocating for and warning against the inclusion of dimethicone in beauty products. While it can be tempting to fall down the rabbit hole of online skincare communities, it is important to keep in mind that there are many more myths than facts floating around out there. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered; we have Dr. Chytra Anand, celebrity dermatologist and founder of Clinics and , to tell us what’s fact and what’s fiction.
To begin with, let’s first understand what dimethicones really are. "Dimethicone is a silicone that is used to give a very smooth finish and a silky texture to beauty products," explains Dr. Anand. "It makes the product apply smoothly onto the skin, which is why it's favoured in makeup, moisturisers, shampoos, and conditioners—it fills in and plumps up the skin, reducing the appearance of lines and making your skin look soft and smooth," she adds.
So, this all-rounder moisturises, smoothens your skin, and upgrades your beauty routine to a more luxurious feeling one. Then what’s the catch?
Thanks to its synthetic formulation, many argue that dimethicones are bad for the skin and hair, advising everyone to switch to a silicone-free or natural beauty routine instead. But Dr. Anand says otherwise. "The amount of dimethicone that is used in skincare or haircare products is quite minimal. So, thinking that there will be any kind of harmful effect from it is a bit illogical, since studies have shown that it is not absorbed into the body via the skin or oral surfaces. Hence, it is safe to be used," she says. "Nowadays everyone talks about using natural products and naturally derived ingredients—since dimethicone is not a natural product, it gets a bad rap," she adds. Thus, it’s important to remember that natural doesn’t always mean better when it comes to beauty.
Moreover, it is commonly believed that it is a common culprit in causing acne and breakouts due to its occlusive nature. "Dimethicone has an emollient kind of function, but it also forms a barrier on the skin. This can lead to clogging in oily or acne-prone skin types. If you have this skin type, I’d recommend that you ideally use silicone-free products. Other than that, is it safe for everyone—I'd suggest not using it on children under 12 years of age though," clarifies Dr. Anand.
When it comes to hair care, it is believed that much like the skin, dimethicone forms a barrier over the hair follicles, preventing them from obtaining oxygen. However, that is another myth—in fact, silicones are what give your hair a shiny appearance and make it easier to comb through, thus preventing breakage. "Because dimethicones have a heavy texture, they weigh the hair down slightly, making it ideal for frizzy, unruly, or curly hair." I wouldn’t recommend it for straight hair though, because it can make it look limp," suggests Dr. Anand.
With all of this in mind, if you feel that switching to a silicone-free skin or hair care regime is right for you, here are some of our favourite beauty picks to get you started on building your new routine.