Dimethicone Vs. Silicone

Silicones are added as lubricants to a number of products
••• Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Roland Tanglao

Dimethicone is a type of silicone, an organic polymer that is isolated to perform a specific task. Silicones often are used as moisturizing and lubricating agents and are common ingredients in commercial health or hygiene products. There are several different types of silicone, but they all have similar qualities.


Silicone was created gradually as scientists began to discover the ways silicon bonds with various elements. The major breakthrough came when oxygen was bonded with silicon in a tetrahedronic structure where silicon stayed in the center and oxygen remained on the outside points. This allows scientists to chain the compounds together in a long polymer-like line. These chains are then attached to organic compounds, usually those of methyl groups. This combination tends to make silicones extremely resistant to water yet keeps them flexible and free-moving, ideal properties for a lubricant.

Whereas other types of polymers, such as plastics, are not commonly found in health and hygiene products, the flow properties of silicones lend them to such purposes. While silicones have few medical qualities themselves, they are used to transport more active ingredients. One of the most common kinds of silicone is dimethicone.


The prefix "dimeth" refers to the two methyl groups that are attached to the silicone molecule, combining the compounds to form dimethicone. This is one of the least complicated variants of silicone and is used most often in hair care products. When applied to hair or skin, it tends to impart a sheen caused by the flow of the organic polymers.

Other Derivatives

In addition to dimethicone, other types of silicone include phenyl trimethicone, dimethicone copolyol and cyclomethicone. Phenyl trimethicone is highly water resistant and is used to trap water in skin or hair and add flexibility. Cyclomethicone is a more resistant variety of dimethicone that performs the same function, while dimethicone copolyol is a water-soluble version of the same.


Wherever natural oils are used, silicones can be used in their place. These synthetic oils tend to last longer and have more precise purposes, such as being able to protect hair and skin for longer periods of time. Lotions, shampoos and a variety of moisturizers use silicones for such purposes.


Critics say that dimethicone can be toxic to the human body because of the risk that the silicon molecules used to create it might be absorbed through the skin. According to Silicone Solutions, however, silicones are designed specifically to be inert and nontoxic. Their molecules are also generally too large to be absorbed into the skin, so they rarely, if ever, enter the body.

Related Articles

What Is Urethane?
Urethane vs. Polyurethane
Glycerol Vs. Mineral Oil
How Is Glycerol Made?
Alternative Solvents to Benzene
How Is Neoprene Made?
What Is Urethane Used For?
Is Methanol & Isopropyl Alcohol the Same Thing?
Chemicals in Dry-Erase Markers
How to Use Propylene Glycol
Uses of Xylene
What Dissolves Oil?
Silicone Lubricant Uses
What Are the Polymers of Lipids?
Raw Materials Used in the Manufacture of Electronic...
What Are the Atoms That Make Up Lipids?
Does Oil Dissolve Rubber Gloves?
List of Ingredients in Perricone MD Cold Plasma
What Are the Functions of Triglyceride Phospholipid...
Advantages & Disadvantages of Biomaterials

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!