What is Cyclomethicone and Why is it in So Many Skincare Products?

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It often worries people when they spot ingredients that they’ve never heard of in their favorite skincare products, and rightly so. The cosmetics industry has been under attack in recent years for using harsh chemicals and preservatives that are later officially deemed unsafe. It doesn’t help that skincare products aren’t regulated by the FDA, leaving it up to consumers to do their own research.

So, today we’re going to do just that with an ingredient called cyclomethicone. Chances are that several of your personal care products contain this ingredient, but what exactly is it, and what does it do to your skin? Let’s find out…


What is Cyclomethicone?

The term ‘cyclomethicone’ actually refers to a group of silicone-based ingredients made up of cyclic siloxane materials. These are basically compounds that have been derived from oxygen and silicone.

Just like other silicones, cyclomethicones have a silky and slippery texture. However, they’re not quite as heavy as dimethicone, a silicone that’s frequently used in skincare, making them even more versatile.

Why is Cyclomethicone Added to Cosmetic Products?


It may not be as famous as some of the other skincare ingredients out there, but cyclomethicone offers a few benefits to the skin:

Delivers Active Ingredients to the Skin

Let’s start with the main reason cyclocmethicone is used in some of the best skincare products out there – it helps to carry active ingredients over to your skin cells. Cyclomethicone itself has a large molecular size, meaning that your skin can’t absorb it. Instead, after it delivers other ingredients to your skin, it will evaporate away.

Again, this is how it differs from other silicones, which sit heavily on the skin rather than evaporating. This is also why you’ll find the ingredient in products containing a high concentration of actives.

Enhances the Texture of Products

Silicones are loved by skincare brands because of how they give skincare formulas a much more pleasant sensory feel. Cyclomethicone does this too – its base solvent properties dissolve fragrance oils and perfumes to create a well-blended mixture. This is why it’s often found in formulas containing a perfume.

Being a viscosity controlling agent means that the silicone enhances a product’s thickness, while its naturally silky texture allows a formula to become easily spreadable.

Forms a Protective Barrier Over the Skin

If your skin is dry, sensitive, or mature with signs of aging, then you’ll be aware of how important it is to build up and strengthen your skin’s protective barrier. After all, this is what keeps your skin protected from irritation caused by the environment, and also prevents moisture loss.

Products with cyclomethicone help with this. The silicone forms its own protective layer over the surface of your skin. This not only helps to keep the skin better hydrated, meaning that skin cells will function more efficiently, but it also prevents harmful environmental substances from entering your skin. As an added bonus, it’ll also help with the appearance of aging – fine lines and wrinkles become less noticeable after products with cyclomethicone have been applied, and the skin takes on a soft and smooth texture.

Improves the Appearance of Scarring

Woman's hand with scar

A number of silicone ingredients are currently used to reduce the appearance of scarring, and cyclomethicone is one of them [1]. Although most studies so far have been tested on animals, anecdotal evidence shows that cyclomethicone offers great promise when it comes to treating scarred skin.

Acts as a Conditioning Agent

Being a conditioning agent means that cyclomethicone is able to make both the skin and the hair feel softer and smoother. However, it’s not quite as effective as other ingredients used to condition the skin. This is because cyclomethicones are volatile silicones that evaporate soon after being applied. That said, once it does evaporate, it leaves the skin and hair feeling silky, rather than heavy or greasy.

Is Cyclomethicone Safe?

There are two aspects to an ingredient’s safety that you need to consider – how it affects your skin and body, and how it impacts the environment.

When it comes to the former, there aren’t any adverse effects to worry about. Research shows that there aren’t any safety issues with cyclomethicones – in fact, they’re far safer than many of the alternatives that could be used instead. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review has also deemed the ingredient to be safe for use in cleansers, serums, creams, sunscreen formulas, and hair care products.

However, environmental safety is another matter. Silicones in general are extremely harmful to marine life. More research is needed to determine just how dangerous they really are to the planet.

Pretty woman in a casual attire


Is cyclomethicone safe for sensitive skin?

Yes, cyclomethicone is safe to be used on sensitive skin. It could even help to reduce any sensitivities or irritation that you’re dealing with.

Can cyclomethicone clog pores in oily skin?

No, cyclomethicone won’t clog pores – most silicones are non-comedogenic, meaning that they won’t trigger acne breakouts. However, keep in mind that silicones do form a protective layer over your skin’s surface, which could end up trapping dirt and sebum in, therefore leading to breakouts. This can often be avoided if you cleanse and exfoliate first.

Is cyclomethicone poisonous?

Cyclomethicone isn’t poisonous when applied topically to your skin. However, it can be toxic if it’s consumed or inhaled, and it’s considered to be poisonous to marine life.


If you’re worried about the effects that cyclomethicone could have on your skin or hair – don’t be. The ingredient works better than other silicones, and can help with everything from dryness to wrinkles.

However, its environmental impact shouldn’t be ignored. Although more research into this is needed, those of you who are eco-conscious may want to choose other products that don’t contain silicones, as the ingredient group as a whole isn’t great for aquatic animals. Yes, cyclomethicone may work well as a solvent, and there’s nothing quite like it for making a product easily spreadable, but, in this day and age, it’s important to consider the wider impact that your skincare routine has too.


[1] https://www.dupont.com/content/dam/Dupont2.0/Products/healthcaresolutions/literature/52-1231-01.pdf

Avatar for Alina Jumabhoy
About Alina Jumabhoy

With almost 10 years of experience writing for the skincare industry, Alina brings her unique perspective into all of the in-depth reviews and articles she writes.