Silicones – They are not bad for your skin!

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You will find different types of silicones in a vast range of skincare, hair care and makeup because of their unique and favourable properties.

Silicones have been well researched and found in cosmetic products for decades – dating back to the 1950s. They have remarkable properties that are otherwise unmatched by other ingredients.

There are a few types of silicones you might find in cosmetic products. Their names will usually end in -cone, conol or -siloxane. ‘Dimethicone’ is one such example that is commonly found in a range of skincare and makeup.

Despite all the nonsense you may see about silicones – they are not bad for skin and can in fact be very beneficial.

In skincare:

  • Silicones are generally hypoallergenic, meaning they’re less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions. This makes them suitable for most skin types, even sensitive ones.
  • Silicones act as emollients, forming a protective layer on the skin that helps lock in moisture and prevent dehydration. This keeps your skin feeling soft, supple, and hydrated.
  • Certain silicones can enhance the penetration of other active ingredients in skincare products. This means those beneficial ingredients, like antioxidants or retinol, can reach deeper layers of the skin for better results.
  • Waterproof silicones are a key ingredient in many sunscreens. They help the sunscreen stay put on your skin, even during sweating or swimming, for optimal sun protection.
  • Silicones can coat mineral sunscreen particles, making them less likely to clump and providing a smoother application. Additionally, some silicones offer antioxidant benefits, potentially helping to neutralise free radicals generated by UV rays.
  • Silicones can form a barrier on the skin, protecting it from environmental aggressors like wind and chafing. This is especially helpful for people with dry or sensitive skin.

In makeup:

  • Silicones have a smooth, silky texture that allows makeup to glide on effortlessly. This makes blending easier and creates a more even, flawless finish.
  • Makeup primers often contain silicones that fill in fine lines and minimise the appearance of pores. This creates a smoother canvas for makeup application and helps your foundation and other products last longer.
  • Silicones can extend the wear time of foundations and lipsticks. They help the product adhere to the skin better, preventing it from smudging or fading throughout the day.
  • Specific silicones have a mattifying effect. They absorb excess oil on the skin and blur imperfections, creating a soft-focus, airbrushed look.

In hair care:

  • Silicones coat hair strands, smoothing out frizz and tangles. This makes hair easier to manage and leaves it with a healthy, glossy shine.
  • Silicones form a protective layer on hair, shielding it from heat damage caused by styling tools and environmental humidity. This keeps hair looking smooth and prevents frizz.
  • Some silicones can help hair colour last longer by preventing the dye from washing out as quickly.

Is silicone bad for your skin?

The short answer, no. Despite the all-natural, clean beauty brands and advocates of the world demonising them for decades, silicones can be very beneficial to skin with little to no known side effects.

Depending on the type of silicone used, they can be very healing, calming and moisturising.

Do silicones suffocate skin?

No, they don’t.

Silicones actually form a breathable layer on the skin that is permeable to both oxygen and water vapour. Despite all the crazy claims made, there is zero research that indicates silicone is responsible for “suffocating” the skin, trapping dirt and debris in your pores or interfering with your skin’s natural processes.

Are they toxic?

No, they are not! Silicones are actually very safe.

Some will claim they are toxic because they aren’t natural – but as usual, just because something is synthetic does not automatically make it toxic; and just because something is natural does not automatically make it non-toxic, safer or better. Although this is the common, misguided and uneducated beliefs of the clean beauty industry.

The entire notion that natural is safer and better than synthetic is just complete and utter nonsense. In fact, in cosmetic products, natural plant extracts are responsible for causing the most irritation and allergic reactions.

Extensive research shows no link between silicones and cancer, hormone disruption, or other long-term health problems. Regulatory bodies worldwide have deemed them safe for human use.

The safety of silicones also extends beyond cosmetics. They’re used in various medical applications, including ointments, creams, and even implantable devices like pacemakers and brain shunts.

Can silicone be used on sensitive skin?

Absolutely, yes. In fact, silicones are great for sensitive skin because they are generally hypoallergenic, nonirritating and unreactive.

Although silicones are extremely common, allergies to silicone are extremely rare.

Take home message!

Silicones are perfectly safe and have some excellent qualities which other ingredients don’t have. They are considered safe, and often very beneficial to the skin. They can improve product performance and ease of use, and for the vast majority of people, they will cause no adverse reactions or side effects.

If come across someone demonising a particular ingredient or group of ingredients, or telling you to avoid them, you should always approach with caution.

The spread of misinformation within our industry is the worst it has ever been. Social media has given people with limited knowledge and experience (or none) a platform to spread misleading, deceptive and false information, often for the purpose of selling a product or service they themselves will benefit from.