Busting Myths about Silicones in Your Beauty Products
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As the beauty industry takes a closer look at harmful ingredients, silicones have been placed on trial with the likes of parabens, phthalates, and sulphates, questioned for their benefits versus harms. Silicones have been challenged over concerns of safety, sustainability and performance. Yet, although most experts support the removal of parabens, phthalates, and sulphates from skincare, silicones remain debatable. 

It ultimately comes down to this question: since silicones are not actually harmful, but make the skin appear healthier without actually improving skin health, should they be used? 

 

Clearing the confusion between Silica versus Silicones

Silica (SiO₂) is a naturally occurring mineral. It is what quartz is made of, and it is most plentifully and naturally found in sand, but also in living organisms and our food, including green beans, bananas, and lentils. It's composed of the two most common elements on the earth, the first being oxygen (O₂) and the second being silicon (Si). 

Silicones, on the other hand, are synthetically produced polymers created by repeating units of siloxane, elemental silicon and oxygen and combined with other elements, most typically carbon and hydrogen. Silicones have O₂ and Si in common with Silica, but silicones have very different functions than silica. 

Both of these are used in beauty products, for different purposes. 

Silica is used to help pigments get distributed evenly, prevent shine and help products like foundation adhere to the skin. It is also a component of some facial scrubs. It's insoluble in water, so its function is as an abrasive, anti-caking agent or bulking agent in a product.

Silicones are used in beauty and hair products to deliver a soft, smooth finish. They can fill the cracks and crevices of the skin, making complexions look and feel smoother. Thus, they're a common primer ingredient. They also have a number of benefits for skin, ranging from healing damaged skin to preventing moisture loss. In hair products, they give your locks a slippery feeling of smoothness and help reduce frizzing, by reducing moisture loss. 

Today, our focus is on silicones, but we will touch on silica in a future article.

The Benefits and the Concerns

As a skincare ingredient, silicones have immediately visible benefits. They help to seal skin, making it resistant to water and air. They help improve the texture and feel of a formulation.

Concerns have been raised about silicones potentially causing breakouts, irritating the skin, suffocating skin, or trapping dirt beneath the products. In hair, silicone has been reported as causing a buildup in the hair, with mixed effects. They create a shiny seal over locks that keep the hair hydrated, but this protection can prevent other nourishing ingredients from penetrating into the hair follicle.

Yet, some of these claims are not rooted in science.

Silicones are non-comedogenic. They do not clog pores or cause acne breakouts. They create a thin barrier atop the skin that is permeable. Used medically, silicones help wound healing and reduce scarring, because they can uniquely heal and protect while allowing the wound to breathe.

Silicones are hypoallergenic. They are gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin and do not further sensitise the skin. 

On the other hand, 

Silicones can be hydrophobic. There are many types of silicones, some of which are water-soluble or naturally evaporate (volatile silicones). Yet, some are hydrophobic or water-repelling. For this reason, some silicone-based products don’t rinse away easily and can require a more diligent cleanse of the skin or hair to remove them fully. 

Silicones do not provide health benefits. Products composed mainly of silicones versus those created from beneficial botanical oils can be viewed by some as nearly cosmetic, with no restoration of skin health. Since their main benefit is to create a protective layer on the skin, many enlightened consumers would rather choose naturally crafted products rich in vitamins, nourishing fatty acids and antioxidants and avoid silicones altogether.

Are silicones right for you?

Ultimately, your preferences matter most, but it should be recognised that silicones are not nearly on the same level of harm as parabens, phthalates or sulphates. In fact, they are generally safe and can help your skin retain moisture. 

If you prefer multipurpose body care or haircare and are keen on restoring your natural glow, consider using products with a higher concentration of active botanical ingredients that can deliver nourishment. There exist products that fuse the benefits of silicone with natural oils to hydrate, heal and protect. 

Sometimes, the silky silicone touch may be just what you need to better layer your cosmetics or to retain moisture. 

If you still prefer to avoid silicones, you can search for silicone-free products directly on Yuty. 

 

Where you and beauty meet. Yuty takes into consideration your genetics, lifestyle, environment and preferences when providing you with personalised recommendations. Take the YUTY Advisor © today to find your perfect match.

 

 

References

Castro, J. (2013, June 20). Silicon or Silicone: What's the Difference? Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/37598-silicon-or-silicone-chips-implants.html

Mazzone, D. (2021, November 18). The Complete Guide to Silicones in Hair Products | The Science of Beauty Podcast | Allure. Allure. https://www.allure.com/story/the-truth-about-silicones-the-science-of-beauty-podcast

7 Foods High in Silica. (2020, November 5). WebMD. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-silica

Why Is Silica In My Product? (2020, November 13). The Dermatology Review. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://thedermreview.com/silica/

Xue, F. (2021, October 16). Silicone for Hair: Benefits and How to Use It. Byrdie. https://www.byrdie.com/silicones-shampoos

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