The truth about silicone in skincare, according to experts

Silicone in skincare has a bad reputation, even the experts admit. However, they are there to largely erase the name of the ingredient. While you don’t need to have the ingredient in your product arsenal, you probably already do. Silicone has a handful of benefits that make its place in skincare worthwhile. See what the experts had to say about the synthetic ingredient, so you can decide where you stand.

What is silicone in the world of skincare?

“Silicones are actually a huge library of ingredients that consist of a wide variety of synthetic polymers with organic silicon compounds,” explains cosmetic chemists in residence at Revealed Gloria Lu and Victoria Fu. “To simplify this gibberish, it’s a large category of synthetic ingredients ranging from lightweight oils, gels, to waxes used in skincare, makeup, and haircare.”

How is silicone used in skin care?

According to Lu and Fu, chemists use silicones in skin care in multiple ways. “Silicones can be texturizers to improve the feel of your skincare. They can provide instant effects such as mattifying or blurring properties. Silicones can even be used as film-forming agents for makeup and sunscreen,” they explain.

Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD says that one of the most common types of silicones found in skincare products is dimethicone, which “helps smooth the skin by filling in the spaces between dead cells on the skin. above the skin”. The ingredient is popular in products like primers and moisturizers because it imparts a silky texture and “enhances a topical product’s ability to spread smoothly and evenly,” says Dr. Schlesinger. cosmetic chemist ginger king says the silicone can also help minimize any soaping effect. This effect occurs “when you rub the skin care product and you see white residue during the rub.”

Should silicone be used in skincare?

Although some find silicone in skincare polarizing, the experts we heard from felt comfortable recommending silicone-based products. “When applied topically to the face, silicone is a great ingredient to use, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin or who prefer to avoid mineral oils or petroleum jelly,” says Dr. Schlesinger. However, he notes that any product containing silicone should only be applied to clean skin. “If you apply a product containing silicones after exercise, it can trap sweat against the skin, which could contribute to breakouts.”

Other than that, Lu and Fu note that silicones are “very vanilla ingredients that are unlikely to cause irritation.” They say, for this reason, it’s a solid ingredient for sensitive skin, but it’s also often found in products for oily skin “to help lighten textures without adding oiliness or heaviness.”

King believes silicones are “exceptionally important to the sensory experience. It really does feel silky and smooth to the skin, so consumers will want to use the products more often to see results. However, Lu and Fu note that the Silicone-heavy products can sometimes cause a “pilling” effect when layering. If your skin is prone to pilling, silicone-based products may not be your best bet. Additionally, King points out that Dimethicone is also classified as a skin protectant, and that’s not its only skincare benefit.

What are the benefits of silicone in skin care?

Its ability to improve the texture of products is one of the most appreciated advantages of silicone. “We think the texture improvements of silicones can be very helpful,” Fu and Lu say. sunscreen that you could put on from time to time.” Additionally, silicone can also help give the skin a silky matte finish.

Some silicones also have the ability to protect the skin and act as an occlusive to help seal in moisture. “Since moisture is essential to help skin heal properly from things like in-office procedures, surgeries, burns, and cuts, dimethicone is a great ingredient for sensitized skin,” says Dr. Schlessinger. He adds that studies have shown that dimethicone can reduce the appearance of scars, including superficial, hypertrophic and keloid scars. Dr. Schlessinger recommends Avène Cicalfate+ Scar Gel ($28) and SkinCeuticals Advanced Scar Control ($110) to help reduce scarring.

Dimethicone can also help control the appearance of oily shine and fine lines and wrinkles, making it a great addition to primers like jane iredale Smooth Affair Face Primer ($50) and Glo Skin Beauty Base for eye shadows ($18), notes Dr. Schlessinger. The ingredient is also beneficial for lip plumping products, “helping to improve lip shine and smoothness,” he explains. Dr. Schlessinger recommends Revision Skincare YouthComplete Lip Restorer ($36) and Colorescience Sunforgettable Lip Shine SPF 35 ($34). Specifically, “stearyl dimethicone, which is a wax instead of an oil, works with the skin’s natural temperature to increase lip hydration.”

Another advantage of silicone is that although it has occlusive properties, it is non-comedogenic and non-acne prone. Use a product like Obagi Clenziderm MD Therapeutic Moisturizer ($43) is helpful in replenishing acne-prone skin. “It helps reduce the flaking, tightness, or itching associated with acne treatments, keeping skin comfortable without clogging pores,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

What are the potential adverse effects of silicone in skincare?

“Despite all the bad press silicones, there are no general adverse effects for this category of ingredients,” Lu and Fu say. “It really depends on the formula. Some silicone or dimethicone formulas are simply not suitable for certain skin types. However, it’s more because the skin is so personal. For this reason, they advise doing a patch test before using a new formula to see how your skin will react. King also notes that some people break out when using silicones, which warrants a patch test.

“In addition, there are many different types of silicones, with cyclic silicones being classified as undesirable due to environmental and inhalation concerns rather than skin concerns,” King points out. Additionally, Dr. Schlessinger notes that silicone should never appear in an injectable treatment.

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