Silicones for Personal Care - Book Review

This is a post by cosmetic chemist and formulator Valerie Patton.

The world of silicones has grown exponentially since the mid-1970s, and their use in cosmetic formulations has silicones for personal care cosmeticsrevolutionized the cosmetics industry. In the second edition of his book, “Silicones for Personal Care,” Mr. Anthony O’Lenick has left no stone unturned to provide the cosmetic chemist everything they need to know (and more!) about silicone materials.


The text starts with a brief overview of the history of silicones and how they are made. The manufacturing processes detailed lay a good foundation for basic silicone properties and nomenclature. This chapter, like all ensuing chapters, contained information for corresponding patents, a chapter conclusion, and all references from that chapter.

The second chapter further delves into the properties of basic silicone materials and how they are typically incorporated into cosmetic products. This latter section was a little too brief, but a useful overview nonetheless.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 quickly transition the reader into the impacts silicones have on the various parts of a formulation. This section was extremely enjoyable because it additionally provided a nice review of the chemistry of emulsions and surfactants.

Moving onward from Chapter 5, chapters are solely dedicated to discuss the overall structure, function, and properties of each type of silicone compound. While the attribute each silicone imparts to a formula isn’t obviously stated, Mr. O’Lenick is able to provide a plethora of information to help the reader make a connection. These chapters proved to more of a reference than the previous chapters that were read through in their entirety.

The closing chapters of the text go over more general properties of silicones such as refractive index, surface tension, and methods in silicone chemistry. It would have been particularly helpful to have some of this information at the beginning of the book to demystify some of the heavy scientific information presented throughout the chapters.


Overall, this book is a highly recommended addition to any formulator’s library. In the past, I’ve solely selected silicones based on what I’d seen used in similar formulations or what I knew about specific raw materials. Not any more! The extensive background information and reference sections in “Silicones for Personal Care” has given me the ability to more smartly broaden my range and choose what’s right for my next formula.

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