Comparatively Speaking: Oleophilic vs. Siliphilic

Oleophilic refers to materials that "love" oil. These materials are water insoluble and therefore are hydrophobic. In a simple two- dimensional world of just oil and water, any material that "loves" oil "hates" water. In this simple world, oleophilic and hydrophobic describe one type of molecule.

The problem is that cosmetic chemists live in a three-dimensional world. This additional dimension is silicone. Silicone is insoluble in oil and water. Siliphilic refers to a material that is water insoluble (hydrophobic) and oil soluble (oleophilic). It is therefore referred to as siliphilic.

Why is this important? Many pigments are coated to make them hydrophobic (water-hating). The hydrophobic coating can be oil (oleic acid, for example) or silicone (dimethicone, for example). If the coating is silicone, the pigment is siliphilic. If the coating is oil, the pigment is oleophilic. The selection of the proper nonaqueous phase and the nature of the emulsifier needs to be made with this in mind to maximize stability.

  Oil Silicone Water
Loving Oleophilic Siliphilic Hydrophilic
Hating Oleophobic Siliphobic Hydrophobic

Term Hates Loves
Hydrophobic Water Oil or Silicone
Oleophobic Oil Water or Silicone
Siliphobic Silicone Oil or Water

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