Silicone compounds have been known since the 1860s, but have seen explosive growth in their utilization since the late 1980s. In the early days, silicone fl uids were essentially the only type of silicone polymer used. They are still widely used in many personal care applications, for example conditioning in hair care products and in pigmented products. There are however a large number of formulations in which silicone fl uids cannot be used, due in large part to their inherent insolubility in oil and water. There are many silicone polymers that offer functional attributes in aqueous and oil-based systems that remain largely unappreciated. The classes of compounds are known but the selection of the lesser-known products can provide benefi ts not offered by the better-understood products.
PEG/PPG dimethicone compounds: PEG/PPG dimethicone compounds are a very versatile class of compounds that, in addition to offering increased water solubility over silicone fluids, can be altered to provide properties like wetting, emulsification and conditioning. The products of this class have been known by a variety of names over the years. Our industry is most comfortable calling them dimethicone copolyols, notwithstanding the switch to the term PEG/PPG dimethicone. In other industries, these products are referred to as silicone glycols, silicone super wetting agents, and silicone surfactants. Regardless of what they are called, they are a class of compounds that offer many formulation benefi ts. They conform to the structure shown in Figure 1.