Why Does Cyclopentasiloxane Have A Bad Reputation? - The Dermatology Review

Why Does Cyclopentasiloxane Have A Bad Reputation?

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08.27.20 AD DISCLOSURE

What Is Cyclopentasiloxane?

Cyclopentasiloxane is a common ingredient in skincare and body care products, used to improve the texture of formulations, helping products to glide on smoothly and evenly. It also has the added benefit of acting as a protective barrier to the skin, protecting the skin from moisture loss, allergens, and bacteria. 

Cyclopentasiloxane is part of a family of small silicones called cyclomethicones. Cyclomethicones are clear, odorless liquids utilized in skincare products to give your skincare a smooth texture that allows the product’s key ingredients to be delivered evenly to the skin. Cyclomethicones are part of the silicone family and are used in a similar way to dimethicone, which you may be familiar with. Cyclomethicones help smooth the texture of products, improve the appearance of scarring, increase the water-resistance abilities of formulations, and emulsify the product. However, cyclomethicones are also better at delivering active ingredients to the skin as they are more volatile than larger silicones and slowly evaporate from the skin. When cyclomethicones disappear, they leave behind the formulation’s essential ingredients.  

Cyclopentasiloxane is one of the most common ingredients used in personal care products today. Synthetically manufactured, it is a silicone derivative that carries a variety of skin and hair applications, such as hair spray and sunscreens. With a broader focus on uses in styling, cyclopentasiloxane is finding more and more popularity in hair care products, and those where a microscopic protective layer may benefit the skin.

 Cyclomethicones are sometimes also called cyclosiloxanes; they are different names for the same class of chemicals. The two most commonly used cyclomethicones are cyclopentasiloxane and cyclohexasiloxane; you may have seen these ingredients somewhere near the bottom of your product’s ingredients list.

Cyclopentasiloxane has a ring-shaped structure that makes it more volatile or less stable. This instability allows cyclopentasiloxane to evaporate when applied to your skin—making it an excellent ingredient for products that need to go on smoothly but not remain sticky after application. As all the cyclopentasiloxane eventually evaporates from the surface of the skin, it leaves behind the other key components in the product to work their magic. This action of evaporation makes it an excellent carrier ingredient.  

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Cyclopentasiloxane

Cyclopentasiloxane

the good:Cyclopentasiloxane helps to improve the texture of products, giving them a silky feel. They also help to deliver key ingredients to the skin and protect the skin from moisture loss.

the not so good:Often will need to be combined with heavier silicones to help improve the thickness and spreadability of the product.

Who is it for?All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: Other names such as decamethylcyclopentasiloxane or D5 cyclomethicone.

What Are The Benefits of Cyclopentasiloxane?

Cyclopentasiloxane is a multifunctional ingredient in skincare and cosmetic formulations. The main benefit is that it helps to improve the texture and sensory feel of the product on the skin. However, it also has many other added benefits. 

Cyclopentasiloxane

Texture
Cyclopentasiloxane helps to produce a smooth, silky formulation that allows the product to spread evenly over the skin. It prevents the product from catching on dry skin patches and evens skin tone by gliding over pores and wrinkles.  It ensures that all areas of the skin are receiving the key ingredients in your product. 

Lightweight 
Cyclopentasiloxane is a volatile substance – like all cyclomethicones. This allows it to gradually evaporate from the skin, leaving behind the product’s key ingredients without the heaviness of other silicone-based ingredients. 

Inexpensive 
One of the most significant benefits of cyclopentasiloxane is that it is an inexpensive ingredient for formulators. For example, cyclopentasiloxane may be used as a cheap alternative to organic ingredients like vegetable glycerin, and its concentrations in skincare items can be more easily varied because it is synthetically manufactured. Synthetic ingredients often have a bad reputation in the skincare world as they are considered not natural. This is a bit of a misunderstanding; artificial ingredients are usually safer than their plant or animal-derived counterparts as they contain fewer impurities. They are also better for the environment as they don’t need to be sourced from a natural resource. 

Hydration 
A study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology investigated cyclopentasiloxane effect on the skin. The study considered the occlusive nature of the cyclomethicones in general. Occlusive substances work by creating a physical barrier between the skin and the air, keeping moisture in and allergens and bacteria out.

The study found cyclomethicones to be non-occlusive due to the volatile nature of the ingredients. The volatility of the ingredient allows cyclomethicones to evaporate from the skin, only forming a protective barrier for a short period. These results are excellent news for congestive skin types as it prevents sweat and skincare ingredients being pushed deeper into the pores. However, occlusive barriers are generally useful for drier skin types as they prevent moisture loss. Cyclomethicones may still be beneficial for improving the appearance of dry skin as the rate at which the evaporation occurs provides the skin is slow, and the ingredients will still offer the skin with the protective barrier for some of the time it is on the skin. 

Scarring
Cyclomethicones have been suggested to improve the appearance of scars with used in conjunction with other silicone ingredients.  A study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery determined that silicone gel preparation significantly enhances the appearance of superficial, hypertrophic, and keloid scars.  While this research has not been conducted into cyclomethicones specifically, it is related to the broader subgroup of silicones.  Many of the silicone gel preparations contain cyclopentasiloxane or cyclohexasiloxane, which is used at the volatile element to deliver the other silicone ingredients to the skin. 

Who Should Use Cyclopentasiloxane?

Cyclomethicone products are suitable for most skin types, including congested, dry, or sensitive skin types, as well as skin types that may have damaged skin barrier integrity. 

Cyclopentasiloxane

Congested skin types
There is a general misconception that silicone-containing products cause breakouts. These claims remain unsubstantiated by peer-reviewed research. Studies have determined that most silicone products are non-comedogenic (not clogging) and allow the skin to breathe. Silicones and cyclomethicones do not enter the pores, where the formation of blemishes occur, and cyclopentasiloxane evaporates, reducing the barrier effect on the skin. This misconception comes from anecdotal evidence, and while that can be a useful tool for driving areas of research, it does not replace an in-depth study. 

One explanation for the anecdotal evidence that suggests that silicone products worsen congested skin types is that they may trap sweat or other skincare products that potentially cause breakouts, closer to the skin. This theory hasn’t been tested but has some validity given the function of silicones. 

To avoid this potential side effect, it is best to make sure you cleanse the skin after exercising and to check the ingredients in your other skincare products to see if they could be contributing to the breakouts.  

Sensitivity 
It is believed that cyclopentasiloxane may have some capacity to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, actually help in the healing of skin blemishes and calm the visible effects of rosacea. Cyclopentasiloxane is an emollient that soothes and softens the skin by keeping moisture locked in. This characteristic helps to prevent water loss and maintain the integrity of the skin’s natural barrier. Protecting or preserving the skin’s natural barrier is an essential part of keeping sensitivity issues at bay. Disruption of the skin’s natural barrier is considered to be linked with skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. 

If you have sensitive skin, be mindful of the other ingredients in your product that may irritate, such as fragrance, because the cyclopentasiloxane will deliver these ingredients effectively to the skin. In some cases, minor irritation may occur from the use of silicones, but it’s not usually the source of sensitivity in a product.

Is Cyclopentasiloxane Safe?

Cyclopentasiloxane is considered to be a safe ingredient for its indicated uses in skincare and cosmetics. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a US organization that determines the safety of cosmetic and skincare ingredients, concluded in 1991 that compounds containing cyclopentasiloxane safe for use. Further reviews conducted in 2005 supported its use.

Environment
One issue with cyclopentasiloxane is its potential impact on the environment. Cyclopentasiloxane doesn’t readily degrade. This may have a disrupting effect on the environment. As a precautionary measure, the European Union in 2020, limited concentrations of cyclopentasiloxane in products to 0.1%. 0.1% is generally the concentration it is used at, so this is unlikely to affect the formulation of your favorite skincare products if other countries adopt this same policy. 

References: Brown, A & Barot, L, 1986. ‘Biologic Dressings and Skin Substitutes’, Journal of Clinical Plastic Surgery, vol. 13, is. 1, pp. 69-74.
Burgess, I, Lee, P & Brown, C, 2008. ‘Randomised, controlled, parallel-group clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of isopropyl myristate/cyclomethicone solution against head lice’, Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. 280, pp. 371-375.
De Paepe, K, Sieg, A, Le Meur, M & Rogiers, V 2014. ‘Silicones as Nonocclusive Topical Agents, Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, vol. 27, pp. 164-171.
Disapio, A & Fridd, P, 1988. ‘Silicones: use of substantive properties on skin and hair’, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, vol. 10, is. 2, pp. 75-89.
Johnson, W et al., 2012. ‘Safety Assessment of Cyclomethicone, Cyclotetrasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, and Cycloheptasiloxane’, International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 30, pp. 149-227.
Puri, N & Talwar, A, 2009. ‘The Efficacy of Silicone Gel for the Treatment of Hypertrophic Scars and Keloids’, Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, vol. 2 is. 2, pp. 104-106.
Van Reeth, I 2006. ‘Beyond Skin Feel: Innovative Methods for Developing Complex Sensory Profiles with Silicones’, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, vol.5, is. 1, pp.61-67.

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