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Understanding Silicone

Contact Author Anthony J. O'Lenick, Jr., Siltech LLC
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Silicone compounds have achieved outstanding growth in both the type and quantity used in the personal care area. In fact, there are few new cosmetic formulations in any market area today that do not contain silicone compounds. Despite this outstanding growth in acceptance, the structure-function relationship remains elusive to most of today’s formulators. This is true even for many of the most technically sophisticated formulators.

Silicone polymers are a diverse class of compounds that encompass traditional silicone fluids, water-soluble polymers, oil-soluble polymers, fluoro-soluble polymers and polymers that have a range of solubility. They encompass a variety of forms from low-viscosity fluids to rubbery elastomers to resins. The problem is that the choice of compounds is overwhelming. With all these compounds and without a road map, the formulator will find it difficult to select an appropriate silicone for a specific application. The road map is known, but it is rather guarded by those who understand it. That road map is an understanding of the silicone technology and the structure-function relationship that exists within the technology base. That knowledge is no more complicated than the technology base used to make surfactants. While different, it is every bit as rich and flexible. 

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