Dermal absorption of cyclic and linear siloxanes: a review

J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2024 Apr 2;27(3):106-129. doi: 10.1080/10937404.2024.2316843. Epub 2024 Feb 20.


Cyclic and linear siloxanes are compounds synthesized from silicon consisting of alternating atoms of silicone and oxygen [Si-O] units with organic side chains. The most common cyclic siloxanes are octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4), decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5), and dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane (D6), while the most common linear siloxanes are high molecular weight polydimethylsiloxanes (PDMS) and low molecular weight volatile linear siloxanes known as hexamethyldisiloxane (L2), octamethyltrisiloxane (L3), decamethyltetrasiloxane (L4), dodecamethylpentasiloxane (L5). These compounds (1) exhibit low dermal toxicity, (2) are generally inert and non-reactive, and (3) are compatible with a wide range of chemicals offering beneficial chemical properties which include the following: wash-off or transfer resistance from the skin, sun protection factor (SPF) enhancement, emolliency in cleaning products). Because of these properties, these compounds are incorporated into multiple consumer products for use on the skin, such as cosmetics and health-care products, with over 300,000 tons annually sold into the personal care and consumer products sector. Because of their widespread use in consumer products and potential for human dermal exposure, a comprehensive understanding of the dermal absorption and overall fate of siloxanes following dermal exposure is important. This review summarizes available data associated with the dermal absorption/penetration as well as fate of the most commonly used siloxane substances.

Keywords: Siloxanes; absorption; cosmetics; cyclic; dermal; linear; sunscreen products.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics*
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Humans
  • Silicones
  • Siloxanes* / chemistry
  • Siloxanes* / toxicity
  • Skin


  • Siloxanes
  • Silicones
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Cosmetics