To formulate with silicones or not? An eternal question


Innovation Chemist, Cornelius Group


The debate around the use of silicones in personal care formulations has been waging for many years. Some formulators – encouraged by pressure from consumers to omit them from personal care products – have been slowly removing these divisive ingredients, leading to a surge in the number of silicone-free products on the market. Others have boldly launched campaigns to reinstate their presence in hair care formulations. But which side of the argument is right? In this article, Cornelius’ experts will explore the benefits that silicones can impart on personal care formulations, how they can be used more sustainably, what alternatives exist, and the novel solutions that are emerging in the market.

Since the 1930s, silicone has played a crucial role as a versatile and stable ingredient for various industries, including cosmetics, conditioners, deodorants, and household essentials like fabric softeners.


In recent times, however, silicones have found themselves at the centre of a growing controversy within the personal care industry. Consumers, now more interested than ever in seeking detailed information about the products they use and their constituent ingredients, are frequently bombarded with misconceptions, rumours, and myths. For silicones, rumours of adverse reactions and concerns regarding product leaching have led consumers to initiate a boycott of products containing silicones.


This surge in scepticism has, in turn, encouraged product formulators to actively explore alternatives for both personal and household care items (1). As a result, over the past decade, this once-ubiquitous component has gradually vanished from ingredient lists, giving way to the prominence of “free-from” marketing campaigns.


Nevertheless, a persistent question remains: Are silicones truly the culprits they are often ma ...