There seems to be no shortage of ingredients to avoid in your makeup and skincare products. While this can make us roll our eyes as we pry our favorite primers and creams from our fingers and into the trash, we have to admit that it’s ultimately great news that we can even find out about these things. Remember when we had no idea that aluminum was in our deodorant, and that aluminum was even bad for you? As cringe-worthy as it can be to find out about the bad stuff in your favorite beauty products, we’re making enormous progress in discovering cleaner makeup and skincare products. And better yet, we’re closer and closer to creating beauty products that are clean and work as well as “unclean” products. It’s like how grocery stores now sell vegan cheese that actually tastes like cheese and not styrofoam. Progress, people.
You can find silicones in everything from makeup and skincare to hair products. And, unfortunately, they come under many different names. While you may find them in eyeliner, lipsticks, or mascara, it’s more important to avoid them in products that you use on your skin, particularly your face. So, why exactly are silicones bad? Aside from being harmful for the environment and biodiversity (which is obviously important too!), silicones trap debris in your pores, cause acne and congestion, make your skin dull and dehydrated, interfere with cell renewal, block ingredients that are layered on top, and they’re difficult to remove. And besides, they don’t provide any benefit to your skin.
They’re used in products because they give your skin that silky texture that spreads easily. They make your skin look smoother because they fill in the crevices, but this is how they end up clogging your pores too. Silicones are water resistant, so they’re typically found in sweat-resistant sunscreens and setting sprays. Silicones are also super cheap, which is why they’re so common. They’re made of plastics instead of expensive raw materials.
Alright, if you’re not already convinced, here are six reasons to avoid silicones on your skin.
1. Silicones Clog Your Pores
Silicones make products thicker, which gives the false impression that they’re giving you a smooth, effective layer. But this “smooth” layer is actually trapping bacteria, sebum, oils, and moisture in your pores.
2. Silicones Cause Acne
When silicones trap junk in your pores, they cause unwanted breakouts. If you’ve been using silicones for some time, it may be a good idea to book an appointment with your esthetician to cleanse your pores safely.
3. Silicones Make Your Skin Dull and Dehydrated
Sometimes silicones cause acne, sometimes they cause dull and dehydrated skin—sometimes they cause both! Once the pores are clogged, silicones prevent additional moisture from seeping into the skin, preventing long-lasting hydration. This can eventually throw your skin’s natural regulatory process off-balance, and your skin will have trouble shedding dead layers.
4. Silicones Interfere with Cell Renewal
Silicones keep dead cells on the skin longer than normal, which prevents cell renewal. Without cell renewal, your skin can’t heal from pigmentation, redness, fine lines or scarring.
5. Silicones Block Ingredients Layered On Top
With silicones creating such a thick layer on your skin, they prevent any products layered on top from getting into the skin to do their job. This is particularly a problem when we’re talking about creams and skincare products. Why spend a lot of money on your eye cream if it won’t actually work when layered on top of a moisturizer with silicones?! Ugh.
6. Silicones Are Difficult to Remove
This one may be obvious at this point. If silicones are so tough that they can block other products, and they can clog your pores, then it’s no surprise that a simple cleanser isn’t enough to fully remove the silicones from your skin. Better to simply avoid products with silicones altogether.
Silicones typically end with -cone, -siloxane, or -conol. But you may also find them as C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, VP/VA copolymer, polybutene, or polyisobutene.
Kate Wilke is a 200-RYT yoga instructor, meditation teacher, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She teaches and works with clients in Nashville, TN. She believes in self-care in the form of colorful, healthy cooking, daily walks with her dog, and a glass of red wine. Follow her on Instagram — @meditatekate