Silicones Offer Versatility To Meet Global Personal Care Trends

By Isabelle Van Reeth u2022 Dow Corning (China) Holding Co., Ltd. , Beth Johnson u2022 Dow Corning Corporation | February 17, 2011

These multifunctional materials provide a wide range of benefits in skin care, sun care and color cosmetics, according to Dow Corning researchers.

The global personal care market is a patchwork of vastly different wants and needs. While some segments show signs of maturity, others are developing and expanding, partly in tandem with their regions. Meanwhile, the challenge for innovation, demand for high performance and competition for differentiated products continue to lead formulators into new territories, creating a need for specialty ingredients that push technology boundaries.

The ability to use one ingredient instead of several can make formulating easy, speed product development and make it more economical. A strong link exists between evolving silicone technologies and some of the most influential consumer trends.

A Spectrum of Solutions

In Asia, anti-aging is closely linked with skin whitening; elsewhere, wrinkle masking is a greater priority, along with protection from the damaging effects of sun. Silicones offer various approaches for formulating skin whitening products, through rheology modification, improved aesthetics and new product forms.

Focus initially was on the active ingredient, and finished whitening products have been slower to achieve an optimum set of characteristics. A successful formulation must balance perceived immediate or short-term efficacy with appealing sensory and textural attributes.

Rheology modification: Delivered from a silicone carrier, Dow Corning RM 2051 Rheology Modifier (Sodium polyacrylate (and) dimethicone (and) cyclopentasiloxane (and) trideceth-6 (and) PEG/PPG-18/18 dimethicone), offers flexibility for thickening. Using a simple cold process, elegant hydrogels can combine sensory enhancers such as silicone elastomers with whitening actives and natural emollients. It is available in liquid form, requires no neutralization and forms gels instantly with the addition of water.

Distinctive sensory profiles can be obtained with a basic formulation that incorporates the rheology modifier and different silicone types. Figure 1 illustrates the sensory impact of a silicone organic elastomer blend (Dow Corning EL-8050 ID Silicone Organic Elastomer Blend) and an elastomer powder suspension (Dow Corning 9509 Silicone Elastomer Suspension), compared to a formulation control without silicone elastomer.

Figure 1. Sensory characteristics of creams containing silicone-based rheology modifier, silicone organic elastomer blend or silicone elastomer suspension (10%), caprylic capric triglycerides (14%) and whitening active (1.5%).Ratings for absorption were based on panelists’ perceptions, not biological skin absorption.

Silicone elastomer powders: Blends of silicone elastomer powder and other powders can enhance skin-whitening products with optical effects that mask skin imperfections. Dow Corning EP-9293 Al Cosmetic Powder (Dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer (and) alumina), a silicone elastomer powder coated with alumina, gives a soft-focus effect.1 The powder helps maintain skin tone while evenly distributing reflected light to hide imperfections and minimize shine. Silicone elastomer powders also show versatility as delivery agents for active ingredients including moisturizers, fragrances and vitamins.

Another silicone elastomer powder blend, Dow Corning 9701 Cosmetic Powder (Dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer (and) silica), is coated with silica. It can absorb sebum and mask wrinkles, while imparting the unique sensory profile of silicone elastomers. With its wrinkle-masking properties,1 this elastomer is particularly appropriate for applications in combination with anti-aging actives.

More Sun Awareness

Sun care products play an important role in skin care regimens to prevent premature aging. In the newest applications, silicones add substantivity, sebum control, resistance to wash-off, enhanced SPF and the option for unique textures and sensory effects.

The ability of silicones to enhance SPF can mean less sunscreen to achieve the same level of protection, allowing more formulation flexibility, lower cost and a broader range of products offering UV protection. Better wash-off resistance translates to longer-lasting protection from water or sweat. Silicones form distinctive textures and sensory effects to allow differentiated products, while improving compliance and formulation efficiency.

Emerging concepts focus on silicone-in-water emulsions that incorporate new sunscreens such as methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol or polysilicone-15 in combination with vitamins and silicone elastomers.

With silicone elastomers, it is possible to create a clear anhydrous elastomer gel containing sunscreens. Silicone elastomers and silicone resin wax combined with sunscreens are the basis for a foundation primer with a silky smooth feel and UV protection.

Silicone organic elastomer blends (SOEBs): SOEBs show improved compatibility with organic materials such as natural oils, esters and sunscreens, yet maintain the unique sensory characteristics and texture imparted by silicones.

A new SOEB, isododecane (and) dimethicone/bis-isobutyl PPG-20 crosspolymer, is based on organomodified silicone elastomer gel delivered in volatile isododecane to allow a range of new formulation possibilities:

• Novel anhydrous clear formulas with up to 12.5% organic sunscreens.

• Body butters that combine the benefits of naturally derived butters with the spreadability and luxurious silky feel of silicone elastomers.

• Oil-in-water lotions with natural actives, where the SOEB lubricates during application, leaving a light, dry, smooth finish.

Formulation 1 shows an anhydrous sun care product with the new SOEB. The nongreasy, transparent gel with sunscreens leaves a silky, powdery feel on skin. For easy formulation and energy conservation, heating is not required.


Formulation 1: LucidityAnhydrous Sunscreen Gel


Dow Corning EL-8050 ID Silicone 67.45

Organic Elastomer Blend (Isododecane

(and) bis-isobutyl PPG-20 crosspolymer)

Univul MC 80 (BASF) (Ethylhexyl 7.50


Escalol 587 (ISP) (Octisalate) 5.00

Crodamol GTCC (Croda) (Caprylic/capric 8.00


Cetiol OE (Cognis) (Dicaprylyl ether) 12.00

Dow Corning VM-2270 Aerogel Fine 0.05

Particles (Silica silylate)


Combine all ingredients except silica silylate in a mixing vessel. Mix at 700 rpm with marine propeller until homogeneous (at least 15 min). Increase mixing speed to 1000 rpm. Add silica silylate very slowly while continuing to mix until uniform.

A World of Color

With color cosmetics, performance is a must. Consumers look for long-lasting, comfortable wear, combined with color intensity and a fresh look. Convenience and easy application are important, along with novel textures and sensory effects. UV protection and an eye to safety are growing concerns, with a focus on material testing.

Silicone resins: Silicone resin technology continues to evolve, giving lipsticks, foundations, eyeliners and other color cosmetics longer, more comfortable wear without transfer. A blend of trimethylsiloxysilicate and propyl silsesquioxane was developed (Dow Corning MQ-1640 Flake Resin) with an optimized ratio between the two resins. It delivers the best combination for performance: excellent wash-off and nontransfer properties, with improved film flexibility for more comfortable wear in foundations and lipsticks. A propyl instead of a methyl group improves compatibility compared to most currently available silicone resins. In several formulations, resistance to rub-off of the film formed by the new blend is improved compared to that of the MQ resin. However, the film is still firm.

Formulation 2 illustrates a creamy eyeliner that is easy to apply, with enhanced gloss and color intensity. In addition to its nontransfer properties, it features resistance to rub-off and wash-off.


Formulation 2: Long-Wearing, Smooth Gel Eyeliner


Phase A

Dow Corning SW-8005 C30 Resin Wax 10

(C30-45 alkyldimethylsilyl polypropyl-


Dow Corning 9701 Cosmetic Powder 2

(Dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone cross-

polymer (and) silica)

Cithrol GMS (Croda Inc.) 2

(Glyceryl stearate)

Covasilc 25 (Sensient) 4

(Silica dimethyl silylate)

Unipure Black LC 902 GRAN (Sensient) 8

(Carbon black)

Phase B

Permethyl 99A (Presperse) 51


Dow Corning MQ-1640 Flake Resin 23

(Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) poly-



Combine phase A ingredients and heat to 75°C. Combine phase B ingredients and mix until completely dissolved. Add phase B to phase A and mix until homogeneous. Keep covered with aluminum foil when not mixing to avoid loss due to heating. Pour into suitable containers while hot.


The silicone resin forms a permeable film on skin, so it should not interfere with the skin’s natural breathing function.

Silicone emulsifiers: Among the most sophisticated emulsions in terms of delivery and sensory effects, water-in-silicone emulsions based on silicone emulsifiers have seen increasing use, especially in color cosmetics but also in facial care, underarm applications, and sun care.2,3 They can form systems ranging from lotions to creams, or soft to firm gels. The unique consumer benefits provided by an external silicone phase include superior spreading, long-lasting wear, wash-off resistance and a non-occlusive film.

The newest generation of silicone emulsifiers can be the basis for novel formulation concepts. These materials can be especially useful when cold processing is the best approach based on formulating ease, energy concerns and overall efficiency.

Dow Corning ES-5612 Formulation Aid (PEG-10 dimethicone) combines good pigment dispersion properties with the ability to make low viscosity stable emulsions. In Formulation 3, silicone emulsifiers form a stable, low viscosity foundation with a high pigment load.


Formulation 3: Low ViscosityFluid Foundation


Phase A

Dow Corning ES-5612 Formulation 8.00

Aid (PEG-10 dimethicone)

Xiameter PMX-200 Silicone Fluid, 7.57

5 cSt (Dimethicone) (Dow Corning)

Dow Corning FZ-3196 7.57

(Caprylyl methicone)

Dow Corning 5200 Formulation Aid 0.80

(Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 methicone)

Dow Corning VM-2270 Aerogel Fine 0.30

Particles (Silica silylate)

Phase B

Water 51.00

Glycerin 5.00

Sodium chloride 1.00

Euxyl PE 9010 (Schulke & Mayr) 1.00

(Phenoxyethanol (and) ethylhexylglycerin)

Phase C

SA-C47051(Miyoshi Kasei) 9.66

(Titanium iron oxide (and) dimethicone)

C33-1700 (Sun Chemical) 1.81

(CI 77492)

C33-2199 (Sun Chemical) 0.42

(CI 77491)

C33-5500 (Sun Chemical) 0.12

(CI 77499)

Dow Corning FZ-3196 (Caprylyl 5.45


Phase D

Parfum (Symrise) (Domino 246519) 0.30


Prepare a pigment premix by blending phase C ingredients and homogenize with a three-roll mill until color is uniform. Combine ingredients of phases A and C, mixing until homogeneous. Combine ingredients of phase B and mix. Slowly add phase B to phase AC, while slowly increasing mixing speed (800 to 1100 rpm). When all of phase B is added, add phase D with mixing. Mix for an additional 5 min at 2000 rpm.


Another new silicone emulsifier, Dow Corning BY 25-337, (PEG/PPG-19/19 dimethicone (and) C13-16 isoparaffin (and) C10-13 isoparaffin), forms water-in-silicone emulsions with low to high water content. It gives a more creamy, gel-type foundation, but still with good spreading for optimum coverage and a light, smooth feel.

Hair Solutions

Where markets are rapidly expanding, consumers are moving beyond basic products to new product forms. In India, shampoo (or even ordinary soap) and conditioning oil were primary products. Consumers now show more interest in specialized shampoos and conditioners, and advanced styling and color products.

In South America, they want products tailored to individual hair care needs, based on biological or regional hair types and cultural styling practices. Meanwhile, in China, a growing economy guides development and buying habits for hair care products. Shampoos and conditioners lead market growth, and as consumers spend more on hair care, greater appreciation for the benefits of sophisticated ingredients and product forms creates new opportunities for innovation.4

Few consumers have “average” hair, particularly considering biological factors or ethnic origin. Products optimized for wide-ranging hair types, and incorporating specialty silicones, can address specific conditioning problems and allow global consumers to choose from customized solutions.

With specialty silicones, formulators can create shampoos and rinse-off and leave-in conditioners for dull, dry, damaged, thin, color-treated or unruly hair, and adapt products for mild, moderate or intensive conditioning. Other benefits can be built into products tailored for individual hair needs:

• Improved wet and dry feel

• Shine

• Enhanced body and volume

• Smoothness for thick or unruly hair

• Improved color protection

• Enhanced hair strength


Table 1 illustrates how selected silicones can be used in conditioning formulations for various hair types. With these targeted technologies, formulators can more rapidly screen silicones for intended applications, with the result that innovative, differentiated products can be brought to market more quickly.

Color protection: Silicones can help protect hair treated with permanent and nonpermanent colorants from discoloration and fading.5-8 Some color stays on the upper layers of cuticle and can be removed during washing. With its spreading behavior, silicone may help colorant further penetrate the hair cuticle for longer lasting retention. By forming a water-insoluble film, the silicone may also help prevent color from washing out.

Based on tests with several silicones, Figure 2 shows color retention properties for two silicones at 2% active level in a rinse-off conditioner. In this series of results, expressed by ΔE value, the silicones significantly reduced color loss compared to the control (the same rinse-off conditioner without silicone). The lower ΔE value for hair treated with the silicones indicates they help maintain color intensity and depth.

Figure 2.ΔE through seven cycles (each cycle = 7 hours of UV exposure + shampoo rinse + conditioner rinse at 2% active silicone).

Protection from heat: Curling irons and blow drying can raise hair temperature, drive off moisture and ultimately cause splitting and breaking.6,7 Silicones conduct heat slowly, so a silicone film along the hair shaft helps reduce moisture loss and resulting heat damage. Silicone also helps the hair cuticle lie flat, for a smoother, softer and healthier appearance.

Enhanced hair strength: The film-forming properties of some silicones can help protect hair cuticle from forces associated with grooming.6,7The silicone may help seal the cuticle, preventing moisture penetration in and out of the hair cortex to maintain optimum moisture for hair strength. A silicone film can also enhance the strength of hair that has a tendency to frizz, or that is naturally finer and prone to damage.

Formulation 4 is a multifunctional rinse-off conditioner that offers intense conditioning, enhanced wet and dry combing, improved volume, wave enhancement and color protection.



Formulation 4:Rinse-OffConditioner


Phase A

Deionized water 93.8

Natrolsol 250 HHR 1.5

(Hydroxyethyl cellulose)

(Hercules Inc.)

Phase B

Arquad 16-29 (Akzo Nobel Chemicals) 0.3

(Cetrimonium chloride)

Phase C

Lanette O (Cognis) (Cetearylalcohol) 1.0

Arlacel 165 (Croda) 1.0

(Glyceryl stearate PEG-100 stearate)

Phase D

Dow Corning 5-7113 2.0

Silicone Quat Microemulsion

(Silicone quaternium-16

(and) undeceth-11 (and) butyl-

octanol (and) undeceth-5)

Phase E

Glydant (Lonza) (DMDMhydantoin) 0.4


Combine phase A ingredients and mix until well dispersed. Add phase B to phase A with gentle mixing. Heat to 75°C. Add phase C to AB, mixing gently until melted. Cool to approximately 40°C with stirring. Add phase D and mix. Add phase E while mixing.


Specialty silicones are versatile and multifunctional, and among the most widely tested materials used in personal care products.

Their ability to fill multiple roles enables products with fewer ingredients, and faster, more economical development.

With expanding options for cold processing, lower energy use can become an attainable goal while leading to innovative product forms.

Specialty silicones respond to shifting and emerging trends, with flexibility to meet unique needs across the global personal care market.


1. I Van Reeth and R Bao, Skin-Whitening Products with a Consumer-Perceivable Difference, PCHi Shanghai 2010 (March 10, 2010)

2. B Durand, J Newton, C Delvallé, I Vervier, and S Masse, New Formulation Capabilities Using Water-in-Silicone Emulsions, SCC Scientific Seminar, Chicago, IL, (June 4-5, 2009)

3. T Dimitrova, L Saulnier, I Van Reeth, and V Verhelst, Stabilization of Cosmetic Formulations by Silicone Polyethers, 25th IFSCC Congress, Barcelona, (October 2008)

4. Euromonitor International data (2010)

5. T Ostergaard, A Gomes, K Quackenbush and B Johnson, Silicone quaternary microemulsion: a multifunctional product for hair care, Cosmet Toil, 119:11, 45-52 (2004)

6. B Johnson, K Quackenbush and B Swanton, Silicones for hair strengthening, Cosmet Toil, 122:3, 59-64 (2007)

7. S Marchioretto and S van Doorn, Silicones as Protective Agents in Hair Care Products, International Conference on Surfactant and Detergent, Shanghai (Sept. 7-9, 2008)

8. B Moss, V Ungvary, S Marchioretto and B Johnson, Silicones Combine Color Retention for Hair and New Spray Opportunities, Dow Corning ref. no. 27-1171-01 (2005)

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