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Ingredient Watch List: Cyclotetrasiloxane, the Hair Conditioner That May Harm Our Waterways

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Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is general in nature and for informational purposes. It is not meant to substitute for the advice... read more

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is general in nature and for informational purposes. It is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. None of the statements on this site are a recommendation as to how to treat any particular disease or health-related condition. If you suspect you have a disease or health-related condition of any kind, you should contact your health care professional immediately. Please read all product packaging carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program. Cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. read less

You know how your hair feels soft and smooth after you put conditioner in it? You may think that’s because your conditioner gives the hair what it needs to be healthy. Unfortunately, in most cases, that’s not it.

Many conditioners contain chemicals that coat the hair strand, making it act like it’s healthy. In reality, it’s in the same condition as before with a few chemicals putting on a show for awhile. Have no doubt—when the chemicals wash off, your hair will go back to being dry, frizzy, and dull.

How can you tell if your conditioner is truly helping your hair or only covering it up? Like everything, it depends on the ingredients. If you read “cyclotetrasiloxane” in the list, you’ve probably you’ve got a more chemical formula on your hands.

What is Cyclotetrasiloxane?

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Also called “octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane,” this ingredient is one of many “siloxanes,” which are made up of silicon, oxygen, and alkane. (Silicon is a nonmetallic element abundant on Earth.)  In other words, it’s a silicone-based ingredient used in cosmetics, deodorant, defoamers, lubricants, and soaps to soften, smooth, and moisten. Siloxanes make hair products dry more quickly and deodorant creams slide on more easily.

Is it Safe?

Like so many of the chemicals in personal care products, this one has been generally considered safe—particularly in rinse-off products like conditioners. But research from Canada in 2008 raised concerns about cyclotetrasiloxane (also called D4) and its sister chemical, “cyclopentasiloxane” (also called D5).

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the government in Canada declared these two chemicals potentially toxic around January 2009. At that time, the government had serious concerns about the hazards of the chemicals, and prioritized them for action to ensure exposures were safe for people and the environment. Environment Canada and Health Canada proposed adding both to the list of toxic substances, and to develop regulations to limit the quantity or concentration of D4 and D5 in personal care products.

According to Environment Canada, D4 and D5 are toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms. The European Union also classifies D4 as an endocrine (hormone) disruptor, based on evidence that it interferes with human hormone function, and may impair human fertility.

What are the Concerns?

California has also done some looking into this ingredient, and it seems they are also concerned. According to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)—a specialized department within the California Environmental Protection Agency that evaluates health risks from environmental contaminants—cyclosioxanes like D4 and D5 have “long half-lives in people. The weak estrogenic activity of D4, in combination with its long half-life, poses potential concerns for exposed individuals.”

In other words, one exposure to the chemical may not hurt you, but we use this ingredient every day in our homes, in our hair, and in our bathtubs, and so far, we don’t know what that means for our health.

What about D5? The OEHHA states, “While studies have not shown D5 to be estrogenic, it nonetheless increased uterine tumors in animal studies. In addition, there are potential concerns related to effects of D5 on the neurotransmitter dopamine and the hormone prolactin.” In other words, this chemical could be affecting our brains and nervous systems with repeated exposures, but we need more studies to be sure.

What About the Environment?

On top of the health concerns, these chemicals have been found to resist breakdown in the environment. The OEHHA has detected D4 in wastewater streams. “Certain siloxanes are persistent in the environment,” they stated, “resisting oxidation, reduction, and photodegradation.”

A more recent announcement by the government of Canada concluded that D5 is not harmful to the environment, after a review of all available scientific information. Apparently the word on D4 is still out.

What to Do?

On the whole, these siloxanes are probably not going to hurt you. Most are in rinse-off products, so as long as you’re not using them in the bath (where you soak), you’re probably not exposed long enough to cause significant health problems.

The danger to our waterways, however, may be more serious. We are still awaiting more tests to determine just how much damage D4 may do in the long run.

Of course, my feelings as always are to avoid the iffy chemicals and go with more natural, nourishing products. Why pretend your hair is shiny and healthy when you can get the real thing with olive oil or coconut oil? There are several organic companies out there, as well, making safer products that you won’t have to worry about, or you can try some of the many homemade conditioner recipes you can find on the Internet. I say it’s worth a little investigation!

Do you have siloxanes in your conditioners and other personal care products? Please share.

* * *

Sources
“Cyclomethicone and ingredients ending in ‘siloxane’,” DavidSuzuki.org, http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—siloxanes/.

Environment Canada and Health Canada. “Screening Assessment for the Challenge
Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4).” November 2008. http://www.ec.gc.ca/substances/ese/eng/challenge/batch2/batch2_556-67-2.cfm


Environment Canada and Health Canada. Screening Assessment for the Challenge: Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5). November 2008. http://www.ec.gc.ca/substances/ese/eng/challenge/batch2/batch2_541-02-6.cfm

DHI Water and Environment. Study on Enhancing the Endocrine Disrupter Priority List with a Focus on Low Production Volume Chemicals. Revised Report to DG Environment. Hersholm, Denmark: DHI, 2007. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/endocrine/documents/final_report_2007.pdf


Diane MacEachern, “Newly Identified Toxic Chemical is Common in Cosmetics,” TheDailyGreen.com, February 5, 2009, http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/green-products-services/toxic-lipstick-55020502.

“EWG: Lipstick Chemicals Declared Toxic by Canadian Gov’t,” EWG.org, January 31, 2009, http://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-lipstick-chemicals-declared-toxic-canadian-gov-t.

Michael D. Shaw, “Some Good News Regarding Siloxane D5—And Why You Should Care,” Marhc 19, 2012, http://www.gasdetection.com/Interscan_News/health_news_digest355.html.

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COMMENTS ( 47 and counting )
  1. Lisa says:

    My hair product, CHI silk infusion, actually has many dangerous chemicals. I’m never using it again.

    • admin says:

      Knowledge is power Lisa, good for you for taking action when you found your products are dangerous. Thank you so much for sharing, make it a wonder-filled day

  2. monica says:

    so im ordering a wig- it contains d4 or d5 which ever i choose . is it safe for me to use? if its bad for the environment i can always wash it out side n give it a fresh rinse with filtered water using a bowl . idk = please tell me if its safe

  3. Julie says:

    The first 2 ingredients listed for the Organix Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco Weightless Healing Dry Oil product are Cyclotetrasiloxane and cyclopentasiloxane. Glad I found this article. As I just bought the product, I will be returning it.

  4. Ana says:

    Agadir Argan Oil has it, boooh, i thought it was so good!

  5. sunny says:

    Ahhh I just used organix argan oil of marocco!!!
    Wish I had read up on this earlier. 🙁
    I’m careful with whats in my food but never gave other products much thought.
    Thank you for the info.

  6. Christa Shipman says:

    I have been using Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner and having no problem.
    Two days ago I started using a cheaper Suave conditioner and I got an itchy rash on my head. My mom noticed that the Suave conditioner has cyclopentasiloxane, and thought that might be the problem. I am glad I read this article: definitely won’t use that shampoo again!

  7. Suz L says:

    Bought a product for hair at ULTA today- “Not Your Mother’s ” brand “lock luster oil treatment”. When I applied it to my dry hair it created so much static electricity ! Not the smoothing effect I was looking for. When I looked on the label on back it says it is “flammable until dry “! It has D4, D5 and c-12-15 Alkyl BenZoate as the first 3 ingredients. Now that I know about it, I will not be buying these products again?
    Also, made in the USA! Why are we putting flammable and extremely concerning toxins in any product for our bodies! We should be more responsible as producers of goods in this Country.
    I will be more discerning on my next ULTA shopping trip!

  8. MARY KAY eye makeup remover works so well I was curious to see what was in it. 2nd ingredient is cyclotetrasiloxane-.

  9. Mocha says:

    Organix kukui oil anti frizz oil has them too 🙁

  10. BatiYah says:

    IC’s Fantasia Hair Polisher Carrot Hair Growth Serum has D4 (Cyclotetrasiloxane) as the first ingredient. Bummer. It seems to work well. I’m not sure which ingredient/s help hair to grow faster, but no chances here. Good thing i haven’t used it for long. I’ll stick with Green Smoothies to strengthen my hair inside and out. Peace and Love.

  11. Aubrey says:

    Paul Mitchell skinny serum has this as well as cyclopentasiloxane, cyclotrisiloxane, and other garbage ingredients. My hormones have been awful for the past year. I won’t be using this ever again and I will be calling the company.

  12. Helaine says:

    I was given two tubes of Marc Anthony Strictly Curls and at first thought how lucky I was to receive them. Then I read the ingredients and realized that the product poses both health and environmental hazards. My tendency is to not waste anything and I considered giving it away. Do I dislike anyone enough to gift them poison? Never. I disposed of it at a local hazardous waste drive.

  13. Teresa says:

    I wish I had looked up the ingredients for the renewing Argan oil. I stopped using anything with silicone on my hair for over a year and I bought it because I heard great things about it. Silicone is just fake shine that adds residue to your hair. When you’re all about avoiding washing your hair this is a pain. I co wash and use coconut oil on my hair and nothing else and it’s been great but getting coconut oil on a bottle spray pump is rough so I bought this. I thought this would be great way to avoid wetting my curly super long hair.

  14. Lawanza says:

    La Crème face cream’s FIRST ingredient is Cyclotetrasiloxane…yikes!

  15. Lawanza says:

    OMG! The second is Cyclopentasiloxane ! I have been using this for almost a year morning & night!

  16. Isiris says:

    For about a week I’ve been using Organix weightless coconut oil mist & it works beautifully but I just noticed it has cyclotetrasiloxane & cyclotetrasiloxane as the first 2 ingredients! What a shame. I was just told about Tropical Traditions products that don’t have nasty chemicals. Gonna try those.

  17. AS says:

    Earth Science Liken Plant Deodorant

    5th ingredient listed

  18. Alison says:

    I fell for the marketing packaging again. 🙁 It said “Penetrating Oil for Dry and Coarse hair: Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco” (from Beauty Pure and Simple). It came out goopy like silicone so I checked, and yup, it’s a recipe of D4 and D5 with Argan oil added just before perfume and colorings.

  19. Fikiswa says:

    Thank you for this, just bought Hydratinghair repair cream from Beauty Treats from the pharmacy andithas all these things, syclopentasiloxane, dimethicone,cyclotetrasiloxane,polyacrylamide ect. I will be returning it back tomorrow

  20. Snowy says:

    I recently bought Agadir Argan Oil to give to friends and families and found these chemicals as first listings and decided to look them up. Oh I am so sad. i was thinking that I was getting mostly argan oil and do not want to pollute the water ways or adversely effect the aquatic animals. Does anyone know of an alternative product for argan oil hair treatment

    • Osca says:

      Interesting, very interesting. ..I just bought One and Only Argan Oil..trying to save some dead president’s. ..Have bought the all natural brands before, but very costly.
      Now that I have investigated the ingredients in the off brand….its going back ASAP!!

  21. I use Arbonne products on my face and hair, but they don’t make styling products because it’s near impossible to make them without using something artificial and ultimately unhealthy which is there goal (only use ingredients that are good for you). Remember that skin is your largest organ, weighing about 8 pounds in covering 18 square feet of your body. Within 15 seconds anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream, so be careful what you put on it.

    • Robin says:

      Cyclopentasiloxane is the second ingredient in the Arbonne Intensive Renewal Serum. Are you still using these products? If so, do you think this is a concern? I am in the beginning stages of research for new facial creams and cleansers.

  22. beauty says:

    The third ingradient of L’Oreal NUDE MAGIQUE BB cream bare skin beautifier is “cyclopentasiloxane”.

  23. tobe halton says:

    just came home with some”dermatologist formulated – antioxidant facial serum – for all skin types” from Trader Joe’s; the main ingredient (cyclopentasiloxane) was unfamiliar to me, but almost all of the others were the natural skin supplements and anti-oxidants i was looking for, so i bought it, planning to research cyclopentasiloxane when i got home. thank you very very much for your web site which has steered me away from this stuff!
    back to Trader Joe’s i go…
    best, tobe

  24. Julie says:

    First ingredient in Dove deoderant that my 13 year old daughter uses. Anyone have a suggestion for a natural safe depderant that works?

    • Bridget says:

      Try USDA Organic lemon juice. I cannot use baking soda because it causes huge rash. I heard about lemon juice n tried. Amazing. After time it lasts longer than chemical laden deodorants. Amazing!

  25. Karen says:

    My hair dresser and I have been using UNA Pure Gloss Polisher for years and she promotes this line in her Dominican Salon. Now that my daughter and I have decided to go “natural” I’m looking at the labels on everything. Low and behold this UNA Polisher’s first two ingredients are D4 & D5 – so disappointing. I had planned to start switching to natural oils like Jamaican Castor Oil, Avocado Oil. JoJoBa oil, Coconut Oil, and Olive Oil, but wanted to finish out the UNA polisher. Now i have to let it go; and it’s quite expensive. Glad I found this article!

  26. Lola says:

    Cyclopentasiloxane is the FIRST ingredient to the Renpure Argan Oil Treatment Micro Mist Spray from Target. The shampoo seems okay however. Renpure boasts being “pure”, even adding it to the name, had four potentially hazardous chemicals listed at the very beginning. Only the last ingredient was argan oil and fragrance. And it’s “proudly made in the USA”? Come on guys. Get your acts together

  27. Kathleen says:

    A new product for crept skin has
    Cyclopentasiloxane in it. It I used everyday
    On the skin not a good thing
    People beware of hydra firm it has many other toxins in it also!
    Just getting started!

  28. Dyana says:

    So Garnier Frutis Sleek and Shine Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment has D5 as their first ingredient. It’s not conditioner so I didn’t rinse it out. I’m not recommending anyone to use this because it gives a false texture.

  29. Laura D Ramirez says:

    I have recently purchased a polishing serum for my hair, to apply on my mid shaft to ends after every wash. I looked at the ingredients, and the first one happened to be cyclotetrasiloxane… So, I was curious about it and looked it up. After reading these informative paragraphs, I’m not sure if I should be convinced or concerned…

  30. Kennedy says:

    It’s in lots of foundations & products that are paraben free or “natural” ugh

  31. Clem says:

    Cyclopentasiloxane is the second ingredient listed in Clinique’s Moisture Surge Intense Skin fortifying hydrator!!!!!

  32. theresa says:

    Perfect Formula Daily Moisture for nails. First ingredient jojoba seed oil then cyclotetrasiloxane. Shouldn’t OIL be enough on its own? “Conditions nails to prevent brittleness”.
    Hormone disruptors may also be contributing to obesity epidemic.

  33. Bob says:

    I have New Malibu Hemp Coconut Body Moisturizer, it contains Both the cyclotetrasioxane and cyclopentasioxane,, I’ve been experiencing dizzy spells Not sure it has anything to do with it But. I’m not using this again..

  34. Tonya says:

    Six thirteen a body lotion from Wen has it on the second ingredient. Must have a lot..

  35. Eyka says:

    What about lips product containing Cyclotetrasiloxane? Is it safe for my lips?

    • Annmarie Skin Care says:

      Hi there,

      We wouldn’t suggest using it on your lips because it is on your skin and easier to for the chemical to get into your body by eating it.

  36. Natalie says:

    As cause to wonder, I was curious what was in Kerastase Elixir old team oil . I work at a Kerastase salon and am exposed to these ingredients all day long everyday. I recently became very aware and I’m very excited to help educate my clients and steer them toward a more natural Direction where they’re not be polluting their beautiful bodies or our beautiful Earth. Thanks for doing your research this was an awesome article!

  37. Natalie says:

    Here’s the first natural (completely natural!) Hair care that ive found. http://shop.morroccomethod.com/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwnKzABRDy2pb7nPSazdsBEiQAI4lZQBwfTx4PKRLb7dgYue5Xlhf8BjfmhatFj7e6VhcbFncaAlgv8P8HAQ

    Here is the most natural makeup I found. I highly recommend the mascara as they do not have mercury in them as most do😇
    http://shop.morroccomethod.com/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwnKzABRDy2pb7nPSazdsBEiQAI4lZQBwfTx4PKRLb7dgYue5Xlhf8BjfmhatFj7e6VhcbFncaAlgv8P8HAQ

  38. Claudia Payne says:

    Just found the first ingredient in Garnier Fructis miraculous oil is cyclotetrasiloxane … I might give the body shop coconut oil a go instead since it’s free of silicone and other nasties

  39. Pauline says:

    I was given a trial on a cream for wrinkles and healthier skn. I was told that the ingredients were all natual. It hasthis cyclotetrasiloane in it. I have just read this artical. So its used in conditioners etc. Not to harmful cause you RINCE your hair of it after a few minutes. When you use it on your face. It is left on. How toxic is it as yesterday my face was burning. And i was under the impresion that it was natural. The product is called neruim international. Made in usa

  40. Teresa Dixon says:

    My face is tingling and my mouth is jumping around my lips. I am wondering if I need to report this to someone. I just used Christie Brinkley Authentic Skin Care cream this morning and last night but I forgot to rinse it off before I went to bed and all I did was wash it off with water this morning and put it right back on for another 17 hours now and my whole face is now tingling. I am getting some kind of reaction to the chemicals used in it. So I looked up the first word that I couldn’t pronounce and bingo I figured it was the cyclopentasiloxane, that could be doing it! What can I do? As soon as I get the chance I am going to scrub my face and never use this chemical again! I thought it was skin care not skin scare!

  41. mindy says:

    I had OGX coconut milk anti breakage serum….I’m tossing it out..guess what…it has both “C” words in it..wonder how they get away with putting that in their products. I prided myself on knowing chemistry in cosmetics and hair products yet they keep coming out with new junk the put in…it’s hard to keep up…glad I found this website. Thank you.

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