Can Silicones Clog Pores?
Time to chat about another controversial ingredient: silicones.
Silicones are getting a bad rap because of their alleged ability to clog pores, dry out hair, and cause a nasty build-up. But they may not be as harmful as people say. The truth is, it’s all about knowing how to handle them.
So, we’re gonna get to the bottom of the safety of silicones.
What are silicones?
Silicones come from silica, which is actually the main component of white sand. Silica goes through a long chemical process to become silicone, meaning all silicones are synthetically made (but don’t freak out—synthetics aren’t always bad).
Ingredient-wise, silicones come in oil or gel forms, are usually pretty thick, and are semi-liquid (probably so they can be easily mixed with other ingredients).
However, since there are so many different types, it can be hard to spot them on the ingredients label right away. Here are just a few silicone ingredient names:
- C24-28 Alkyl Dimethicone
- C30-45 Alkyl Dimethicone
- C30-45 Alkyl Methicone
- Dimethicone Copolyol
- Stearyl Dimethicone
- Stearyl Methicone
You heard us right … those are just a few. But here’s a little cheat code: double-check ingredients that end in -cone or -oxane, as those are usually alternative names for silicone.
Some properties are very unique to silicones which explains why they’re so popular in the beauty industry; let us show you what we mean.
Why are silicones used in cosmetics?
First things first; it’s important to know that silicones are not an active ingredient. This means that they don’t actively treat a specific problem or concern (like acne, dryness, or dullness).
Because of this, a lot of people argue that silicones are nothing more than a filler ingredient, and are ultimately unnecessary to add to products. And, since they aren’t active, the benefits they provide aren’t permanent—they simply wash down your drain at the end of the day, leaving your skin looking the same as it did before.
So, what is the point of silicones in skincare and makeup?
Well, to put it plainly, they’re one-of-a-kind. Seriously, they can do things no other ingredient can.
One of their most distinctive qualities is their ability to create a protective yet breathable layer on the skin. This barrier is water-resistant, but it’s also super effective at keeping water in—which helps keep the skin well-hydrated.
Silicones are often used to heal wounds and scars because of their ability to create this special layer. They’re especially common in burn units because of their ability to keep moisture and contaminants out while allowing the wounded skin to breathe and heal.
Silicones also have a way of sneaking into cracks and crevices—i.e. textured skin—to make the skin look and feel smoother. Having a smooth base can make applying makeup easier, too.
But they don’t only make skin smoother. Your favorite creamy, velvety textures in cosmetics come from, you guessed it, silicones. They help create the perfect consistency for makeup and skincare that needs to be “spread” or “smeared,” like lipsticks and foundations. They can also be used in mattifying products to help control excess oil and shine.
Because of these qualities, silicones are a pretty common ingredient in the beauty industry. They’re usually found in:
- BB cream
- Haircare products (particularly anti-frizz products)
- Personal lubricants
Truthfully, most personal care products these days have some kind of silicone in them (unless they’re silicone-free, of course). But the real question is, are there any negatives to using them?
Are silicones bad for your skin?
Now for the nitty-gritty: are silicones harmful to your skin? Can they clog pores?
Well, like with most ingredient debates, there isn’t just one answer.
Basically, the idea is that silicones themselves can’t clog pores. It’s not like you put them on your skin and BAM! You have clogged pores.
However, since they’re mostly hydrophobic (meaning they repel water), users must be extremely diligent about washing them away. Double cleansing is usually the route to take when it comes to silicones (here are some awesome cleansers to choose from!) to make sure you’re really removing them from the surface of your skin.
If silicones aren’t fully washed away, there is a chance that, over time, they break down and subsequently clog your pores. There’s also the potential for dirt and oil to get trapped under the layer they create if they’re not properly removed.
So technically, no, silicones themselves don’t necessarily cause clogging.
But some types of silicones may be more dangerous to your overall health than others. Generally speaking, silicones are separated into two different groups—one of which Kinder Beauty doesn’t allow in our products.
These silicones get their name from their cyclical structure. Clever, right?
Some examples of cyclic silicones are cyclotetrasiloxane (aka D4), cyclopentasiloxane (aka D5), cyclohexasiloxane (aka D6). A few are currently under restriction in Europe and Canada because of the potential health concerns they pose.
These silicones may affect ovulation, are a potential threat to the environment, and may be classified as hormone disruptors. Because of these risks, these kinds of silicones have made it onto Kinder Beauty’s no-no list, meaning we don’t send out products that contain these ingredients.
On the flip side, there are some silicones out there that don’t pose these health risks.
Because there are benefits of having some silicones in beauty products, a lot of brands are opting to use non-cyclic silicones like dimethicone. You’re getting the benefits of skin smoothing, slip, creamy texture, and hydration without the added risks (which is why we allow non-cyclic silicones at Kinder Beauty).
When it comes to silicones in your cosmetics, the most important thing is to be careful about which silicones you’re using. And generally speaking, they really aren’t as bad for you or your skin as you may be led to believe.
Not every ingredient is the enemy! It’s just about having as much information as you can, and choosing what’s best for you.
At Kinder Beauty, we are dedicated to researching and determining what the safest, highest quality ingredients are for you, animals, and the planet. Subscribe to our beauty box and get the best of the best in vegan, cruelty-free, and clean beauty delivered to your door every month!Ashley Webb is a professional copywriter for the clean, vegan, and cruelty-free beauty industry. Using SEO and consumer research, she writes blogs, webpage copy, product descriptions, and emails for beauty brands that are committed to making a difference. Adopting her two kitties, Ivy and Binx, started her journey to advocacy for animal rights, and even led her to go vegan! Learn more about her and her work at ashleywebbagency.com
What Is Silica Sand & How Is It Different From Regular Sand? | Shaw Resources
Cyclotetrasiloxane | Environmental Working Group