What are silicones?
Silicones are chemical compounds that are uniquely smooth and fluid. As silicone oils, they lend skincare products their pleasant texture and make them easy to apply.
Silicones: functions and safety
Silicones are the “smoothifiers” of the cosmetics world: without them, face creams and lotions would be tougher and less pleasant to the touch. Chemically speaking, silicones are a group of compounds containing chains made up of silicon atoms and oxygen atoms, combined with other elements. They can withstand very high temperatures, do not react easily with other substances, and are skinfriendly.
Silicones are safe to use with foods – maybe you own a silicone spatula or other cookware made of silicone. The silicones used in cosmetics are silicone oils: clear, odorless liquids that lend lotions, creams, and other products their smooth, silky texture.
How NIVEA uses silicones
NIVEA uses approximately 30 different silicones, and about 20 percent of our products globally – mainly leave-on products, like face creams and lotions or deodorants, contain silicones. Why so many different silicones? Because each and every one of them has a specific effect, and we take care to include only ingredients that have a noticeable benefit for your product experience. Silicone oils in lotions and creams make sure that the product is a delight to apply and give your skin a silky smooth touch. In haircare, silicones prevent static charge and frizz, making for soft and supple hair. In liquid deodorants, they ensure that the active antiperspirant ingredients are distributed evenly and nothing gets lumpy.
The great thing about silicones is that they are not only highly multi-talented, but also safe and skin-friendly. Even more so than some natural oils! When natural oils react with oxygen, the resulting products may irritate the skin or cause allergies. Silicone oils, on the other hand, rarely trigger allergies and do not oxidize easily. This - in addition to their great fluidity - makes them skin compatible and ideal for use in cosmetics. But doesn’t silicone in haircare products weigh down your hair? There are no systematic studies showing that silicones weigh down the hair. NIVEA haircare formulas wash out easily and let your hair shine in all its glory. We also offer silicone-free shampoos and conditioners to leave the choice up to you.
There are claims that silicone oils from cosmetics products might damage the environment. The silicones in shampoos, conditioners or other products that get rinsed out go down the drain and end up in the waste water. Silicones are very stable and therefore do not degrade easily. As they are almost insoluble in water and non-toxic we can conclude that they do not pose a risk to the environment. Recently cyclic silicones have been regarded by the European Chemicals Agency as potentially harmful to the environment although other authorities e.g. in USA and Canada consider these cyclic silicones as safe. These cyclic silicones (namely D5 and D6) should not be confused with the majority of other silicones which do not fall in this group and are considered safe to the environment as they neither bioaccumulate nor are toxic to living things according to current knowledge.
We carefully monitor further regulatory developments as well as scientific research on cyclic silicones to review and prepare our measures to continuously evolve our products and provide the best possible performance for the consumer as well as for the environment.