Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Truth About Silicone

You hear about it all the time, people insisting on primers with a silicone base so your makeup holds up better and people who insist silicone is the case of clogging their pores and ultimately enlarging them. This has been a debate in the beauty community since practically the birth of makeup. I've been hearing way too much about silicone lately and decided it was time to get to the bottom of all this hoopla.


What is silicone and what does it do?
Silicone is a synthetic ingredient derived from a natural product silica (sand) in some product that is used to cover the skin as a form of protection and lock in moisture (and keep oil at bay) for extended periods of time. In the act of forming this barrier it also does a great job of smoothing out the skin and filling in uneven areas like fine lines, pores and any scarring or rough patches you may have. Silicone is also able to repel sweat and water, and when products with this ingredient are allowed to coat your hair gives it the soft and shiny look.
If your product is not specifically advertised as having a silicone base, you can check the ingredients list for dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which are two popular forms of silicone, or generally any ingredient that ends with "-cone" is most likely a form of silicone.

Where do you find silicone in your products?
Due to the smoothing effect of silicone it is found primarily in makeup primers and bases since it just works to flatten out your stick and give your foundation a smooth, tacky canvas to adhere to. You can also find it in some liquid foundations, particularly in BB/CC creams and as well as those claiming to be multi-step products that will prime, moisturize, conceal, etc. Its hydrophobic properties make it a necessity in waterproof makeup and it is also present in oil-control or mattifying products for the ability to conceal oil and shine under the barrier it creates. Silicone is also found in serums and moisturizers for your face as well as serums and conditioners for your hair.

Is silicone good for your skin?
The molecules of silicone are too large to actually penetrate into the skin layers, so you don't need to worry about a chemical seeping into your skin, as it can only sit in a layer on top of your skin. By having this layer there, silicone helps to keep your skin moisturized because it prevents skin moisture from escaping. Due to this shielding ability, silicone is a great ingredient to look for for those who have sensitive skin because you are able to keep it moisturized with an overabundance of product so it does not irritate the skin. Also, since silicone molecules are unable to penetrate the skin layers, silicone itself, does not cause acne nor is it possible for it to clog pores. Silicone is also inert meaning that it doesn't react with skin, it literally just sits on top of your skin much like how paint sits on a canvas. 

Is silicone bad for your skin?
On the other side of the argument, people say that this barrier silicone creates not only locks in moisture but it also traps any dirt or bacteria that may already be present on your face. The irritation of having these foreign bodies will eventually cause mass breakouts, so it's common to hear people claiming that products with silicone break them out. Those with oilier skin will find that after a long day wearing silicone their skin will be significantly slicker at the end of the day. While silicone is able to block the appearance of shine, it does not halt oil production at all. Throughout the day there will still be a constant build up of oil with no where for the oil to go and this could ultimately lead to break outs.

Final thoughts on silicone.
What it comes down to is that there is no black or white answer about silicone. Silicone itself innately, is not bad for your skin, but like with anything you choose to apply to your skin, it's your manner of application that determines the effectiveness and safety of the product. However, many people who complain that products that contain silicone break them out may actually be allergic to silicone or have a reaction to them. These days most everything in beauty contains silicone and avoiding it is very difficult. Instead work at being mindful about the products you use and what your skin is saying: some people can tolerate higher levels of silicone while others will react violently to even the tiniest bit, if you are finding that certain products break you out more than others, better to switch to something different to satiate your skin.

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