Ah, silicones. No one wants them. But, when they aren’t there, everyone complains.
Well, they don’t complain of a lack of silicones. They complain of thick pastes that spread like chalk or hair that refuses to be combed through. You know, all those things silicones are there to fix.
Cos silicones are quite the handymen. But, they totally suck at self-promotion. They’re even too shy to tell women how they can help. So, others did it for them and now they’re stuck with a bad rep.
How unfair! It’s time to set the record straight once and for all about silicones. Here’s what they do and why you shouldn’t be scared of them (plus the REAL reason why some of you may want to avoid them):
What are silicones?
Silicones are derived from silica, a common mineral that makes up a huge part of the Earth’s crust.
Here’s an easy trick to spot them on the label: they end in “cone” or “siloxane”:
- Phenyl trimethicone
Why are they used in cosmetics?
Think of silicones as boosters. They make everything look and feel that little bit better:
- Silicones give serums and moisturizers a luxurious texture that spreads effortlessly on the skin
- Silicones create a film on the skin that locks moisture in, keeping skin hydrated
- Silicones fill in fine lines and wrinkles so they look smaller
- Silicones makes skin feel silky soft to the touch
- Silicones make hair super shiny (they smoothen out the cuticles so they can better reflect light)
- Silicones makes detangling and combing through hair a breeze (this reduces breakage, too)
- Silicones protect hair from heat
What Types Of Silicones Should You Use?
Well, that depends. There are too many to mention, so here’s a brief overview of the most common ones:
Amodimethicone: a silicone that’s been modified to better stick to hair. It’s a great moisturizer but hard to remove. May cause buildup overtime.
Cyclopentasiloxane: one of the most volatile silicones (it’s water-based), it gives amazing slip to moisturizers and conditioners. It makes them glide on smoothly and then quickly evaporates. No need to worry about buildup with this one.
Dimethicone: the heaviest silicone of all. It’s not water-soluble so it’s the most difficult to remove. If you use too much of it, it can buildup overtime.
So, What’s Wrong With Silicones?
Well, silicones are accused of everything, so let’s go through these “dangers” one by one, shall we?
1. Silicones Suffocate Skin: False
It’s true that silicones create a barrier on the skin that locks moisture in. But, this barrier doesn’t suffocate skin. Skin doesn’t have lungs. Without lungs, it can’t breathe or be suffocated.
“Ok, know-it-all”, I hear you say, “but doesn’t that barrier prevent skin from doing its thing? (i.e. perspire)?”
Nope. You see, this barrier is quite peculiar. Silicones have a particular molecule structure, which is made of larger molecules with wider spaces between each molecule.
That means they can trap water in without interfering with your skin’s natural functions, like perspiration.
2. Silicones Prevent Other Skincare Ingredients From Penetrating The Skin: False
Same as above. The barrier silicones creates has gaps, so your vitamin C and retinol will still get through. No worries.
3. Silicones Cause Product Buildup: True (But, Not An Issue)
Silicones do accumulate on your scalp. That weights your locks down, turning your voluminous mane into a flat pancake.
But, I’m assuming you’re washing your hair, right? Cos if you do, you’ll remove the old silicones before adding new ones (usually with a conditioner).
If you do, they never have the time to accumulate to the point buildup becomes an issue.
4. Silicones Do Nothing For The Skin: True And False
This depends on what you mean with nothing.
Silicones do some things for the skin. Like, making it smoother for example. (See above for the entire list).
But, they don’t have antioxidants properties or anything of the sort.
Think of silicones like junk food: they satisfy the craving but don’t nourish the body.
If you want something that makes your wrinkles look smaller while your retinol takes its sweet time to work, silicones will do the trick. But, once you take them off, your wrinkles are still there, as big as before.
This doesn’t make silicones bad or useless. It just depends on what you’re looking for in your cosmetics.
5. Silicones Are Bad For The Environment: True
If you must give up on silicones, do it for a valid reason. Like this one: silicones aren’t biodegradable.
Some types of silicones can be recycled, but that’s unlikely to happen to the silicones you wash down the drain when you cleanse your skin at night.
If this is a big issue for you, you may want to use silicones less or not at all.
Should you avoid silicones?
Silicones don’t ruin your skin or cause any serious damage. They simply provide a quick fix for wrinkles and a better sensory experience with cosmetics. If you’re looking for more or are worried about their impact on the environment, give them a pass. Otherwise, there’s no reason not to play with them.
Do you use products with silicones or prefer to avoid them?
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