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Ingredient Spotlight: Silicones

Ever tried a skincare or beauty product that’s given you that smooth, velvety finish and made you look like a real-life Instagram filter? Say hello to Silicones – a word you’ve probably heard too often, but don’t know much about. Today, we’re going to put this ingredient under the microscope and see what it actually means for your skin.

What are silicones?
Silicones are compounds that are basically a combination of silicon, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. While it is derived from natural components, it undergoes chemical processes to be used in skincare and beauty products.

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How are silicones used in skincare?
You can identify silicones in your products by names such as methicone, dimethicone, phenyl trimethicone and cyclomethicone, Siloxane ( ref image)

Silicones are primarily used to make a product more emollient (softening) in consistency. Due to its distinct velvety finish, it’s a sought-after ingredient in many topical products, especially primers, BB and CC creams, foundations, and almost every cream-based beauty product.

Do we need silicones in our products?

Aside from making your skin look smooth, silicones do a fine job of covering up pores and filling up fine lines temporarily. It has light reflecting properties, which means it can make your skin look bright and radiant.
Silicones are also known to improve the delivery of other ingredients to your skin. They also contain skin and hair conditioning properties – so you’ll find it in your shampoo, conditioner and hair serum too!
Silicones are also hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic.
It also creates a breathable barrier on the skin’s surface and locks in moisture, so your skin feels neither too wet, nor too dry.

On the flipside…
While there aren’t any scientific studies pointing out the side effects of silicones, it does come with its share of red flags. Those with sensitive skin are likely to react badly to it. You may need to look at the ingredients in a product a little harder. Since silicones facilitate the delivery and penetration of other ingredients, it could transport harmful ingredients to your skin.
Those with acne, inflammation, allergy, rosacea, or highly sensitive skin need to exercise caution and read the label very carefully. Run it by your dermatologist to be safe.
Remember, silicone DOES NOT SOLVE skincare problems. It just temporarily hides it. Your fine lines, wrinkles and dullness will still be there once you wash it off.
Last, but extremely important – silicones are not biodegradable, and over the course of time can accumulate in soil and water bodies. It may not harm your skin, but it definitely harms the environment.

Our final thoughts…
It’s important to note that silicones are not a miracle-worker. As with any skincare product, the fewer the ingredients, the better it is for you. So, if silicones don’t do anything for your skin except temporarily correct your flaws, you might as well give it a miss and focus on ingredients that actually improve your skin from within.
Besides, skincare at the cost of the environment doesn’t benefit anyone, including you, in the long run. Most skincare and beauty companies will use silicones because they’re cheap, and to promote a false sense of perfection and trick you into constantly buying its products.
We’d suggest you opt for naturally occurring compounds such as marine-based ingredients and oils extracted from camellia, argan, rosehip, chamomile, avocado, etc. Aim to correct your skin through a targeted skincare regime, along with a wholesome lifestyle, instead of quick-fixes.

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