Silicones in cosmetics – the truth

Hello there! 🙂

Today I want to talk about SILICONES because I found there is so much mis-knowledge about them online and I felt I need to clear their reputation a little. 🙂
Obviously everybody is entitled to have their own opinion… BUT, to have a real opinion, one is supposed to have a real notion of what they are talking about 😉 so here I try to sum up some facts that might have created confusion.

Silicones

1) Silicones are used in cosmetic industry because they are cheap. 
FALSE
Silicones are not that cheap, actually (of course relatively speaking).
So why they are so used in the cosmetic industry? Simply because they are highly performing.
This is the very simple truth! 😀
– they are oil-like but they feel dry on the skin.
– they also create this wonderful “velvety” effect which you just cannot obtain in a cosmetic that doesn’t contain them.
– they are (mostly) stable molecules that don’t react to heat.
– they improve the chemical filters in some creams (of up to 1%)
Since most people are fascinated by the texture and the smell of the cream (and maybe the price) rather than from the INCI (the list of ingredients it actually contains) you can easily guess that the texture is what is most important nowadays in the cosmetic industry, and therefore the silicones are the solution! 😉
My personal opinion is that if there is a good cream (well formulated and with good active ingredients) which contains an useful amount of silicones just to have that extra great feel, I don’t see anything wrong in that.
The bad thing, instead, happens when a cream contains a great amount of silicones just to “hide” the poor quality of the other ingredients: there are so many cosmetics what do not contain any good active ingredient, but still buyers are “cheated” to think that the cream is almost a miracle because of the velvety-feel. Maybe people buy it thinking it must be very hydrating or even rejuvenating, while the truth is that silicones are in NO WAY hydrating or rejuvenating: they merely sit on the skin and do nothing. 🙂

2) Silicones are not eco-friendly. 
TRUE
What is not true is that they are not eco-friendly because they are synthesized from oil! 🙂 This is a version I have read a lot and I actually don’t know where it comes from.
However let me explain a little: Silicones do not exist in nature on their own, and they are synthesized (mainly) from sand. Sand, it is! So what is bad about them from the biodegradable point of view?
The bad part of the story is that once they are synthesized they are mainly (of course I am talking about a huge group of compounds so not all what I say can be said about each silicone) non-biodegradable. Their great stability, which is one of the main quality of silicones, makes them almost “eternal” on earth once they are formed.
So this is why they are not eco-friendly: the silicones of your silicone-full foundation (which you washed off your face 3 years ago), is still existing somewhere in the world!

3) Silicones clog pores. 
FALSE and TRUE
Silicones usually are:
– mainly stable molecules (they do not react to the heat, to the sun, to other molecules)
– usually big molecules which, exactly because of their shape, let the skin underneath breathe.
This is why silicones are considered “non-comedogenic”.
However, and this is why I wrote “yes and no”, not all the silicones are the same: some are very light and almost ethereal (for example Cyclopentasiloxane) and probably really let the air breathe trough, but some others (like, for example, Dimethicone – which is a generic name which contains a lot of different compounds) are very heavy. If you check some liquid-foundations you will realize that those which contain Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone in the beginning of the INCI have a very thick and heavy feel, while those which contain Cyclopentasiloxane or Cyclohexaxyloxane are more silky and mostly “dry”.
As I have already written many times in my blog: I don’t like silicones on my face because the day after I apply them, my skin has at least a few breakouts (and I usually don’t have any). This, however, is nothing else but my own experience.
I have seen many people using silicon-based creams and makeup EVERYDAY and yet they have the most wonderful skin.
So: NO silicones don’t (necessarily) clog pores or cause breakouts.
If, however, you have the same experience as I have… then simply try not using cosmetics which contain them and see if there is any difference.
Also, please, realize that large pores are usually a congenital thing.
If you are to have large pores you will have them even if you wash your face 10 times in a day (which I don’t suggest 🙂 ) and even if you don’t apply foundations or silicon creams all your life.
The more I have learnt about the making of creams, the less I believe in the “miraculous cosmetics” that claim to change one’s skin for the best. There is nothing like that. Sometimes all we need is a little bit of acceptance 🙂

4) Silicones are dangerous for the skin. 
FALSE
There is no study which proves it and actually, on the other hand, we can see how much silicones are used in medical treatments (they are even used to cover open wounds exactly because of their stability, their low-grade of allergens and their safety).

5) Silicones will ruin your hair. 
FALSE and TRUE
Hair are nothing else but “dead” chain of proteins attached to our scalp.
Silicones inside of a shampoo or a hair conditioner do nothing bad to the hair and actually “cover” them with a thin layer leaving them more shiny and easy to comb.
The truth is that if you apply too many silicones (like the “hair oil treatments” they sell in the shops: often they are made of only perfumed silicones and they don’t contain any natural oil at all 🙂 ) they tend to sum up and, on the long run, they might make your hair look heavy/greasy/not shiny at all.
I personally don’t use these “oil treatments” but I do add a small amount (1%) of silicones to my hair conditioner.
Obviously the choice, once again, is all yours.

For more recipes click HERE 
To learn how to formulate cosmetics click HERE
For a list of online cosmetic ingredients suppliers click HERE 

This is it! 🙂
I hope that with this post you will be able to make your own choice freely!
Any question? 🙂

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

4 thoughts on “Silicones in cosmetics – the truth

  1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces says:

    Fabulous! I loved reading this. I’m a pharmacist that works in the cosmetic industry and I always get annoyed when I here these issues of products that MUST be silicone free. Apart from the fact that I’m not trilled about it not being eco-friendly, silicones are often great for the results you need. And yes it’s so true, boy are some silicones expensive!!! xx

    Like

  2. Angela Tran says:

    I just wanna let you know that you’re absolutely amazing!
    Even though I don’t make my own cosmetic products *imagine doing anything in my tiny little room and having to order all the ingredients from US sites since I live in Vietnam* but I love reading and learning about the science behind skincare and makeup. Your blog is a great source for anyone like me. And I like the fact that I agree with all of your opinions about basically…everything LOL
    It’s frustrating for me to see a lot of people be like “ewwwwww” when they see a foundation or a primer full of silicones LOL I mean, your skincare products have a lot of silicones too and you’re still using them just fine, girl! They think any kind of makeup that has a silky feel would clog their pores or cause cancer or sth LOL
    People need to read blogs like yours to know what they’re putting on their face and not freak out when they see an ingredient’s name they can’t pronounce!
    Keep writing and sharing your recipes! xD
    Oh and let’s be best friends foreverrrrrrrr LOL just kidding :”> Love you though :*

    Like

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