Active Ingredients: Silicone

Tiffany Ong Beauty Expert
Active Ingredients: Silicone

The truth behind Silicone. Should you avoid silicone in skincare, yes or no? 

I bet you’ve heard the term or phrase “Silicone-free” marketed not only by skincare brands, but in general anything to do with body-care. But what is it about silicone that is so bad and if it is bad, why is it that countless brands continue using silicone as one of its ingredients? So, we’re here to tell you if you should avoid silicone or not and the role it has in your skincare product.

Before making your decision on whether to avoid or not avoid, it’s important to first know exactly what silicones are. Silicones are derived from silica and are a group of semi-liquid substances. There are different types of silicones and its function varies depending on which was used in the product. Some silicones are known to be an occlusive type of ingredients. What this means is that it forms a barrier on top of your skin that is resistant to both water and air. Due to this ability, silicones have long been used to aid the skin’s healing process (burns or wounds) as it prevents the damaged skin from getting in contact with the environment, including pollution and pro-irritants. This ensures that the skin heals properly and quickly.

While others give your skincare and makeup that velvet-like texture, making it easier to spread and glide onto your skin and giving the illusion of smoother skin. And this is another reason behind the use of silicones, it is the effect it gives to topical applications.  

From here it doesn’t seem like silicones are harmful to the skin, so why to people and brands avoid them? Now, there are 2 sides of the story. The first stating that it doesn’t actually contributing anything to your skin’s health, and actually causes harm to the skin as it can clog pores and cause acne? And the other side states that silicones are toxic to your skin, hence, the term “silicone-free”.


Well, let’s now break it down for you.


Story 1: Silicones don’t contribute to your skin’s health

That’s not entirely true. Although silicone doesn’t boast a large portfolio of benefits, it is proven to improve the skin’s moisture levels as the barrier it forms prevent moisture loss. They can also help with dry, flaking or itching skin. Also, silicones have the ability to improve the efficacy of other ingredients like antioxidants and vitamins.

But do silicones clog pores and cause acne? No, they do not. Silicones aren’t comedogenic ingredients and the only reasoning behind the possibility of silicones clogging pores is the lack of thorough cleansing that leads to a buildup of impurities including silicones. Thirdly, silicones do not cause acne. In fact, they have to help relieve acne concerns by improving skin complexion and texture in acneic skin.

Summary: Silicones aren’t useless. They help boost the skin’s hydration, better the effectiveness of other skin-benefitting ingredients, won’t clog pores and won’t cause acne.


Story 2: Silicones are toxic

To simply put it, no types of silicones are toxic. Studies and research show that there aren’t any silicones that pose an immediate threat to your skin.

Summary: NOT TOXIC.


Types of Silicone

Silicones are primarily categorized into 2 types: volatile and non-volatile.


AKA cyclic silicones. They are called “volatile” because of their ability to quickly evaporate from the skin. This results in a powder-like smoothness that makes it a go-to choose for serums and primers. Examples:

  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Cyclohexasiloxane


AKA linear silicones. These types of silicones have a larger molecule and can be used in any type of product, from thick creams to thin gels or even fluids. Their consistency depends on the product and works to primarily prevent moisture loss and less a velvet-like finish on the skin. Examples:

  • Dimethicone



Boosts skin’s hydration levels

  • Silicones can create a film on top of the skin that is resistant to water and air. This barrier can work to prevent the skin from moisture loss and helps the skin better retain moisture. There are instances where silicones help alleviate skin concerns like dryness, flaking or itching. 

Improves efficacy of your skincare

  • Silicones can also better the effects of your skincare products as the protective film it creates keeps the ingredients from escaping.

Smoothens and softens the skin

  • Use of silicones won’t improve the skin condition but rather give your skin that illusion of smoother, softer skin. This is due to giving your skincare or makeup that velvet-like texture, making it easier to spread.


What to note?

  • End note, silicones aren’t toxic and won’t harm the skin. If you ever find that your skin is reacting badly to a product that has silicones, silicones may not be the culprit and there could be other skin-irritating ingredient that your skin is allergic to.
  • If you remember, silicones have the ability to increase the penetration of other ingredients and this may pose issues to your skin as the other ingredients aren’t compatible with your skin or the concentration is too high (for active acids).
  • As with all new ingredients and products, we advise people to conduct a patch test 24-48 hours prior.


So, should I avoid silicones?

It’s not necessary to avoid silicones but it doesn’t mean you need to have silicones in your skincare products either. It all comes down to preferences. Some people may find that their skin doesn’t react well to products that have silicone while other may like the effect it gives to the skin. Therefore, there’s no harm in having silicones in your product, give them a try and see if your skin likes it or not. Remember all skin are different, something that works for a 100 people may not work the same for you and that is completely normal!

If you have any questions, leave a comment down below and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

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