Hydrogenated Polyisobutylene: What It Is and Why We Formulate Without It

When it comes to ingredients in makeup, let's face it: Things can get real confusing — real fast. After all, just consider how many different types of ingredients there are in the world, not to mention all of the various ways that they can be processed and used. Here at Youthforia, we're on a mission to demystify ingredients in makeup and ultimately make them less of a mystery to people. Today, we're giving you an overview of hydrogenated polyisobutylene: a synthetic liquid often used as an emollient base ingredient in cosmetic formulations, like lip gloss  

What is hydrogenated polyisobutylene?

Put super plainly, hydrogenated polyisobutene is a chemical or synthetic ingredient with emollient properties — meaning it can help prevent moisture loss — that's used to thicken lipids and oils in skincare products, as well as increase its wearability on the skin. There are various different grades of it that depend on the molecular weight, but it can range from very light and non-oily, to being more viscous. 

Depending on how much is used, it can make certain products ultra-shiny and show up dewy and glossy on the skin, which of course, many people love — especially in lip products and highlighter. In addition to lip gloss, you'll find hydrogenated polyisobutene in products like sunscreen, moisturizers, and even foundation to help make them appear more hydrating on the skin. 

What are the pros of hydrogenated polyisobutylene?

  • It adds shine to the skin
  • It moisturizes the skin
  • It gives skin a soft and smooth appearance
  • It helps the skin's natural barrier
  • It has a water-resistant effect 
  • It's vegan and cruelty-free

And what about the cons? 

  • It's been linked to mild irritation in some people
  • It's made out of fossil fuels, which isn't good for the planet

youthforia dewy gloss in red on a bright table

Why did we choose to formulate without it?

"There's nothing necessarily wrong with hydrogenated polyisobutylene; it ranks safe in EWG and is generally safe for the skin," says Youthforia's founder Fiona Co Chan, who worked alongside cosmetic chemists every step of the way when developing our formulas. "It's used in most lip glosses to create the shine, but I'm just not a fan because it's made out of fossil fuels and we swallow it — plus, and kids swallow it when they play with makeup."

When it comes down to it, while we don't believe in demonizing ingredients, we personally decided to leave it out of our formulas because it's a more sustainable option that's safer for the planet.