ADVERTISEMENT

Dimethyl Isosorbide: What Is It, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: October 12, 2023
Table of Contents

One of the main consumer gripes regarding cosmetics products is that the ingredient lists are almost entirely indecipherable to someone without a chemistry or biotechnology degree!

One such ingredient you may encounter is ‘Dimethyl Isosorbide’ – A mouthful of a name that sounds more like something you’d find in a science textbook than something you’d find in your moisturizer or serums.

In this article, we will lift the veil of confusion surrounding Dimethyl Isosorbide. We’ll delve into its nature, why it features in your cosmetics products, potential side effects, and how it functions.

What is Dimethyl Isosorbide?

Dimethyl Isosorbide, or DMI as it’s sometimes called, is a solvent developed from a sugar alcohol called isosorbide. It’s a bit of an unsung hero in cosmetics, playing a crucial but often overlooked role. Its purpose? Enhancing the delivery of active ingredients in skincare products by helping them to penetrate deeper into the skin. Simply put, it’s more of a support star than a leading performer.

By effectively reducing the barrier resistance of the skin, Dimethyl Isosorbide ensures that ingredients don’t just sit on the surface but dive deep into the dermal layers where they can do their best work. This is done without altering the skin’s natural functions – a kind of VIP pass, if you will, for other ingredients.

It’s more commonly incorporated at concentrations of around 1-10% within skincare products.

Who Can Use Dimethyl Isosorbide?

This ingredient is suitable for all skin types, from the oily to the dry, from the sensitive to the combination.

Furthermore, Dimethyl Isosorbide is plant-derived, making it compatible with both vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

As for pregnant and nursing mothers, there hasn’t been any conclusive research indicating that it’s unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. However, it’s always a sensible move to consult with a healthcare professional before introducing new skincare ingredients during this time.

Dimethyl Isosorbide’s Cosmetic Uses

Dimethyl Isosorbide offers multiple benefits in the cosmetic world:

  • Enhanced Ingredient Penetration: As a solvent, Dimethyl Isosorbide’s primary job is to dissolve other substances, but in the cosmetic world, it takes it a step further by aiding in the penetration of other ingredients. It helps active ingredients dive deeper into our skin, ensuring they don’t just sit on top of the surface but reach the dermal layers to exert their full potential. It’s like a gentle push that allows these substances to seep beyond the superficial, directly addressing fine lines, dark spots, and acne at their root.
  • Improved Consistency and Texture: Dimethyl Isosorbide also plays a role in controlling the viscosity of skincare products. Do you know that perfect consistency that spreads smoothly across your skin and sinks in quickly? You can thank viscosity controllers like Dimethyl Isosorbide for that. It helps to maintain the desired thickness in creams and serums, enhancing application and user experience. It results in a product that is neither runny nor thick, striking the perfect balance.
  • Solubilizer for Difficult Ingredients: Some skincare ingredients are difficult to incorporate into aqueous solutions, but Dimethyl Isosorbide changes that. It acts as a solubilizer, dissolving substances that typically wouldn’t mix well with water. This makes it particularly valuable in formulating water-based serums and creams that contain oil-soluble ingredients.
  • Stabilizer for Unstable Compounds: Dimethyl Isosorbide can be a game-changer When dealing with ingredients sensitive to oxidation or other environmental stressors. Solubilizing these ingredients helps stabilize them, preventing degradation and maintaining their efficacy for extended periods. The result? Your favorite skincare products stay potent and effective, even if they sit on your shelf for a while.

Each of these roles makes Dimethyl Isosorbide an unsung champion of effective skincare formulation, ensuring that our skincare products work well and feel great to use.

Dimethyl Isosorbide Potential Side Effects

As with any skincare ingredient, it’s crucial to remember that the response to Dimethyl Isosorbide can vary from person to person. This is mainly due to the individual nature of our skin microbiome, which is as unique as our fingerprints. Knowing your specific skin type can help determine how your skin might react to new ingredients, so it’s worthwhile to find your skin type before embarking on a new skincare journey.

Despite Dimethyl Isosorbide being a mild and generally safe ingredient, there are potential side effects to keep in mind:

  • Temporary Redness: Some users might experience a transient erythema, or redness, due to increased blood flow to the skin. This effect should subside after a short while.
  • Sensitivity Reactions: Rare irritation or allergic reactions have been reported, possibly due to increased absorption of other potent ingredients facilitated by Dimethyl Isosorbide.

If you notice any signs of discomfort, irritation, or sensitivity, it’s recommended to discontinue use immediately and consult with a dermatologist. Remember, skincare is about nourishing your skin, not causing distress.

However, it’s important to note that adverse reactions to Dimethyl Isosorbide are pretty rare. Mostly, it’s considered a safe and effective ingredient by both the cosmetics industry and dermatologists.

Patch testing is a pivotal step before incorporating any new product into your skincare routine. It helps to determine how your skin may react to the product, preventing potential full-face reactions. Our handy patch testing guide can help you safely approach your new skincare journey.

Comedogenic Rating

On the comedogenic scale, Dimethyl Isosorbide stands proudly at 0/5. This means it’s non-comedogenic and does not contribute to the clogging of pores. The reason for this encouraging rating lies in its unique properties. As a penetration enhancer, it helps active ingredients to absorb better rather than linger on the skin’s surface, where they could potentially form blockages.

Conclusion

Not everything that glitters is gold, and not every ingredient in your skincare product is there for immediate, visible effects. Some, like Dimethyl Isosorbide, play a supporting role, focusing on enhancing the performance of other active ingredients within the formulation. Think of it as the behind-the-scenes crew in a theatre production, ensuring the stars shine their brightest on stage.

Dimethyl Isosorbide may not have the star power of ingredients like retinol or hyaluronic acid, but its contributions are no less crucial. It’s not an avant-garde ingredient; you could liken it to other solvents and texture enhancers like propylene glycol and glycerin. While it may not make headlines, Dimethyl Isosorbide continues to play its part in the background, silently but significantly improving the efficacy and feel of skincare formulations.

As for any concerns, remember that despite its scientific-sounding name and function, Dimethyl Isosorbide is generally safe and well-tolerated. Adverse reactions are rare, and its non-comedogenic nature makes it suitable for all skin types, including those prone to acne and breakouts!

Share:
Feedback:
Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
GET ALL OUR TOP HEADLINES IN BEAUTY.
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
How did you find this article?
Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
ADVERTISEMENT
Get all our top headlines in beauty.
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send good feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send bad feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Search