Are These Silicones Hiding in Your Beauty Products?
In a world where terms like "natural" and "organic" are taking over the beauty aisle, many different ingredients are being called into question. Sulfates, phthalates, and parabens have all been put on the naughty list. Are silicones next? When you turn over your hair and skin care products, it's chemicals like dimethicone that give the serums that silky feeling. But we've got questions: Do they clog your pores? Can they cause buildup in your hair? Are they bad for the environment? Sometimes your products really can feel too good to be true. We answer all your questions and bust some myths ahead. Plus, there's a complete list of silicone synonyms (over 25!), so you know exactly what chemicals are lurking in your favourite beauty buys.
What is a silicone?
All silicones are derived from the element silicon (that's Si on the periodic table for those of us who slept during science). Silicon oxide is a natural substance. It can be mined from things like sand, quartz, amethyst, and opal. Silicon-based polymers were first introduced into beauty products in the 1950s when dimethicone was created. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) describes dimethicone as a skin conditioner, protectant, antifoaming agent, and lubricant in the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It's noted to have a very low hazard for humans, but silicones' effect on the environment has yet to be determined.
The benefits of silicone are mostly superficial. It's the ingredient most commonly used to give your beauty products a silky feel and spreadable texture. Think of it as a lightweight coat. Your favourite trench helps to seal in heat just as silicones help lock in moisture. However, they also keep the moisture out like your favourite coat, too. Your hair and skin need hydration!