November 14, 2022
What Are Silicones and Are They Harmful When Applied Topically?
Within the beauty industry, new science and technology means that fresh concepts, ingredients and formulas are constantly developing and evolving, but the benefits that come with them and their use may not always be the whole picture. It’s no secret that some of the ingredients used in skincare and makeup products, as well as other toiletries in general, or even food, aren’t always particularly good for our bodies or our skin, but it can be difficult to see through clever product advertising, or even know where to start. If you’re wondering about silicones, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about silicones, the dangers of using them, and why.
What are silicones?
Firstly, it’s obvious that you need to know what a silicone actually is before you even begin to think about what it might be used for, or why it might be dangerous. In general chemistry, a silicone is a group of polymers that tend to be used for certain purposes such as lubrication, adhesives, insulation and even in medicine. They are very versatile and can be used for in so many different circumstances due to their structure (essentially, the way their particles are arranged inside of them) and they are high-performing.
What are silicones used for in skincare?
Silicones, as it may seem so far, appear as pretty commendable ingredients, and you wouldn’t believe that something which holds so much use could actually come with some negative effects. In the skincare industry specifically, silicones are exactly the same thing, but they are seen and used for different purposes, which makes sense. The feature they’re most known for when it comes to the skin, and the benefits they can bring to it, is their occlusive properties.
In other words, if an ingredient has occlusive properties, it’s basically a more technical term for saying that they’re good at keeping hydration into the skin. This works by them coating somewhat of a ‘coating’ around the water on your skin and essentially trapping it there, which prevents your skin from drying out. You can also find some of the same silicones found in haircare products as you do in skincare, as they are often included for the same reasons – to hydrate and nourish either the hair or the skin, because your hair can become dry and damaged too.
Why are they harmful when applied topically?
So far, we’ve seen that silicones in the skincare industry as well as other beauty industries, such as in haircare, are used for a very helpful reason: to prevent the very present problem of your hair or skin becoming overly dry. So, what’s so bad about using silicones topically, especially when they’re used so often, and they have such a high demand? This is one of the biggest problems with ingredients which are similar to this, because they seem so great and powerful, and that can make it difficult for people to distinguish between the good and the bad.
To begin with, another reason why silicones aren’t good for your skin is because, being occlusives, another property they serve for is keeping out the surrounding environment’s stressors, but also lock in some of the substances which aren’t the best for your skin. For example, if you are someone who experiences acne and other concerns that come along with oily skin, using a silicone, or a product that includes silicones, on top of it, those substances will be trapped in with your skin, and eventually clog your pores, which exacerbates the original issue, making your acne worse.
Of course, this isn’t the only circumstance where this can become the issue, but it’s one which lots of people can relate to, and the same thing applies to other skin types. In simpler terms, anything already on your skin will be trapped in this layer, so it can actually do more damage than good, when applied topically to your skin.
Silicones are a harmful ingredient, as you can see above, and it’s a sensible idea to avoid them at every moment possible. However, this isn’t impossible at all, and you just have to be a little savvy when picking out your products and choosing ones which either advertise that they’re silicone-free, or even check the ingredient list for any commonly found silicones it could possibly contain. If you’re looking for some products that you can be sure are safe from any silicones, check out the great collection of Applebiotic products!
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