Dow Corning put the reluctance down to reasons of aesthetics and convenience. The company's general market specialist in life sciences Kristen Scheibert-Mizell said: "Incorporating silicones in sunscreen formulations provides a number of performance and comfort benefits that leads to greater use."
"Silicones can boost the sun protection factor (SPF) to provide greater protection, they can minimize wash-off so you don't have to reapply as often, and they provide a dry, silky feel that eliminates objectionable greasiness," she added.
Silicones could provide a wider array of formulation options for sun care product manufacturers said Dow Corning. In addition to helping absorb, deflect or scatter the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, Dow Corning claimed that silicones could be used to incorporate fragrances, colours, vitamins and anti-wrinkle ingredients into sunscreens.
"Consumers appreciate having choices to fit their lifestyles, especially when products can be made more appealing to the senses, are more convenient to use, or offer added benefits," said Scheibert-Mizell.
Silicones are suitable for use in the manufacture of sunscreens in the form of creams, lotions, sprays, sticks, mousses and gels.
She pointed out that different types of silicones offer different performance properties:
* Alkylmethylsiloxane (AMS) materials are silicone-organic hybrids that offer compatibility with a wide range of cosmetics ingredients as well as the characteristic soft, non-tacky feel of silicone. These materials can also provide moisturising characteristics, and enhance the SPF of organic and inorganic sunscreens.
* Cosmetic waxes are soft waxes that melt on contact with the skin and spread easily. They are solid enough to be used as sticks and provide extended protection, but do not have the greasy, oily feel of conventional or synthetic waxes.
* Silicone elastomers can be used as a thickener that improves water-resistance properties. Elastomers also impart a unique dry, silky feel to lotions that consumers perceive as luxurious and different from other silicone products.
* Silicone emulsions allow formulators to capitalise on the sensory benefits of an ultra high viscosity silicone polymer delivered in emulsion form, which allows for easy handling and formulation. The silicone emulsion is substantive on the skin to reduce wash-off. It imparts a nourishing feel to creams and lotions and moisturises without a greasy feel.
"The flexibility of silicone technology allows manufacturers to create innovative, highly differentiated sun care products and product forms," Scheibert-Mizell said. "In turn, consumers have more options to choose for their sun care product's look, feel and manner of application. More and more, we're seeing silicone materials used in a variety of products to meet consumer demand for products that are easy to use, cost effective and long lasting."