Label Logic: Dimethicone

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Written by Joann Klinkner

This one may not be hard to pronounce, but what exactly is enriched flour? You’ll see it on just about every cereal, cracker, and cookie box in the grocery store. But why not just say flour? What makes this flour so enriched as opposed to regular flour? The answers require a little history lesson.

Label Logic by Joann DiFabio-Klinkner is all about awareness of what is in the food you eat. How does this tie in to the Identity mission? Joann educates us in everyday language on ingredients so we can easily remember what is harmful to our bodies and what is healthy for our bodies. What we eat can, in the short term, affect our mood and our energy, and in the longer term, have a major affect on our health and nutrition. That’s why it’s an important part of helping you to have a healthy diet and to Feel Beautiful Everyday!TM

Typically this section serves to decode the complicated and confusing ingredients found in food products. We’re going to take a different approach in this edition and explore an ingredient found in many health and beauty aids (HABAs). After all, it’s just as important to know what you’re putting on your body as it is to know what you’re putting in your body.

I recently picked up my bottle of cocoa butter body lotion and really took a look at the list of ingredients. Right out of the gate I thought the ingredients were crystal clear and made absolute sense. I understood what every word meant…until I got about halfway through and discovered dimethicone (among others). I thought, “What is this weird ingredient doing on this list of seemingly natural ingredients?” Surely something as pure and simple as cocoa butter would have a perfectly good excuse for containing something so obscure and scientific-sounding.

Dimethicone, or otherwise known as polydimethylsiloxane, is a silicone-based polymer. What the heck does that mean? Let’s start at the root. Silicon is a naturally occurring element. Silicone (with an “e”) is a polymer made up of silicon, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon that combine during a chemical process. A polymer is a large molecule that is composed of smaller molecules that are repeated, creating a molecular chain. So basically, dimethicone is a very complex polymer.

Silicones are often found in products such as detangling shampoo, conditioner, and hair gel for their smoothing and anti-frizz properties. When dimethicone is added to skin care products, it basically acts as a “sealant” to lock moisture into the skin. But because of this quality, dimethicone can lead to certain skin irritations. Infections can occur because the skin is not able to breathe and cleanse itself of toxins through sweat. Severe side effects can include hives, respiratory problems, and swelling of the mouth or face. Although the FDA has approved dimethicone to be used in cosmetic products as an emollient, pregnant or breast-feeding women are advised to consult their doctor before using products with dimethicone.

About the author

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Joann Klinkner

Identity writer Joann DiFabio-Klinkner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ramapo College in Communication Arts and is currently employed at Torre Lazur McCann, a pharmaceutical advertising agency, where she is a digital imaging associate. Having a long-standing interest in health and wellness, Joann has developed a passion for and deep knowledge-base of food and nutrition over the years. She currently writes the Spotlight On… and Label Logic articles for Identity, and enjoys cooking in her free time.

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