So, you can't use D4 or D5 silicones: What are the alternatives?

With the cosmetics industry searching for alternatives to commonly used silicones such as cyclomethicone and dimethicone, John Woodruff explores silicone replacements, silicone hybrids and other novel alternatives to more controversial materials

There is no doubt that silicones in all their various structures have played a very important part in cosmetic formulations. But, in recent years, questions have been raised about their safety to humans and their effects on the environment.

First, in 2009, cyclotetrasiloxane (D4) was banned in cosmetic products then the use of cyclopentasiloxane (D5) was banned in hair styling aerosols and sun care spray products[1].

In 2017, environmental concerns led to the European Commission (EC) banning D4 and D5 in rinse-off cosmetic products with 0.1% or more of either substance, and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has proposed to extend the restriction to leave-on personal care products.

Today, D4, D5 and D6 are considered substances of very high concern (SVHC), according to the criteria set out in REACH Article 57.

Whatever the outcomes from these discussions, the cosmetics industry is actively looking for alternatives to cyclomethicone, dimethicone and other silicone materials.

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