Why Is Hydrogenated Polyisobutene in Skin Care Products?



What Is Hydrogenated Polyisobutene?

When reading skincare ingredient labels, it’s easy to become confused by complex-sounding ingredients. However, for the most part, these chemical names are about as scary as the ingredient gets. This is the case with hydrogenated polyisobutene. 

Hydrogenated polyisobutene is a synthetic liquid used to replaced mineral and silicone oils in formulations. It acts as a waterproofing agent and an emollient. An emollient helps to maintain the natural skin barrier, prevent moisture loss, and improve the texture of the skincare product. The skin’s natural barrier is essential to the healthy functioning of the skin. Disruption of the skin barrier has been linked to the worsening of skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Hydrogenated polyisobutene is used in products such as lip gloss, sunscreen, and foundations. It’s mainly used to increase the longevity of the product on the skin and enhance the dewy, glowing look of the skin. 

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Hydrogenated polyisobutene works by increasing the thickness of the lipids or oils in product formulations. It acts as a lubricant on the skin and is often used as a substitute for squalene. 

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Hydrogenated Polyisobutene Ingredient Review


Hydrogenated Polyisobutene

the good: Hydrogenated polyisobutene works as an emollient and waterproofing agent to improve the appearance of the skin and improve the longevity of skincare products on the skin.

the not so good:It has been linked to some mild irritation in some people. Generally, the irritation occurs in skin types that are already inflamed or sensitized.

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: There is a difference between hydrogenated polyisobutene and polyisobutene. Polyisobutene is used for its ability to protect the skin, forming a thin coating over the surface.

How is Hydrogenated Polyisobutene Used?

Hydrogenated polyisobutene is a relatively common skincare ingredient. It is used in a large variety of products, including lip balm, BB cream, exfoliantsand moisturizers. There are several qualities of this ingredient that have made it popular with skincare manufacturers.

One of the beneficial qualities of hydrogenated polyisobutene is its ability to moisturize the skin, making it a popular ingredient in skin creams. However, its role in skincare is to reinforce the moisture barrier, rather than to deliver copious amounts of hydration. For example, hyaluronic acid is typically more useful for drawing moisture to the skin and is highly valued in skincare formulations. The strength of hydrogenated polyisobutene, on the other hand, comes from its ability to fortify the skin’s natural barrier to reduce moisture loss.

It is also common for hydrogenated polyisobutene to be found in water-resistant sunscreens, as this ingredient allows the sunblock to remain effective even after coming into contact with water.

Additionally, hydrogenated polyisobutene is valued for its ability to prevent the clumping of pigment in makeup and other skincare products. This is a critical quality for creating a smooth and enjoyable application, as it keeps the product looking fresh.

Lastly, hydrogenated polyisobutene is also used to increase the thickness of skin products to create a more luxurious feel. This can be especially helpful in night-time moisturizers or creams that contain a variety of oils and when the formulation must stay thoroughly mixed.

Is Hydrogenated Polyisobutene Safe? 

Hydrogenated polyisobutene has been reviewed by both the US Food and Drug Administration and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review for its safety. Both regulatory authorities have approved it for its indicated uses. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel determined that hydrogenated polyisobutene is safe for use in skincare and cosmetics and produces no significant adverse effects when ingested at high concentrations. They also concluded that hydrogenated polyisobutene doesn’t irritate the eyes or skin and is non-comedogenic. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of hydrogenated polyisobutene in cosmetics and skin care as well as a direct and indirect food additive in chewing gum and in adhesives that incidentally come into contact with food.

Products with Hydrogenated Polyisobutene

Many products use hydrogenated polyisobutene as part of the formulation; tinted moisturizer, sunscreens, lip gloss, lip balm, night creams, eye creams, and foundations. 

Of course, for a full understanding of any new skincare product or ingredient, it’s vital to review the entire ingredient list with a dermatologist before using it in your skincare regime. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review, 2008. ‘Final Report of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel on the Safety Assessment of Polyisobutene and Hydrogenated Polyisobutene as Used in Cosmetics’, Cosmetic Ingredient Review. Semnani, A & Shakoori Langeroodi, H, 2011. ‘An Investigation on the Behaviour of Solvent Neutral 500: Polyisobutene Blends’, Journal of Petroleum Science and Technology, vol.31, is. 20.



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