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Is there really silicone in makeup (and is it bad for me)?

Answer: Yes, it is true that many makeup products contain silicone.

Smooth, silky skin is one of the most coveted beauty qualities today. Oftentimes, the most effective ingredient used to create this type of texture is silicone. With so many prestigious beauty companies advertising silicone-based formulas—and others touting silicone-free formulas—it’s difficult to determine whether or not silicone is truly helpful (or harmful) for your skin and hair.

Silicones are synthetic compounds used in many items; we’re talking anything from lubricant to cooking utensils. Specifically in the realm of beauty, silicones (and silicone-based polymers like dimethicone) are used in many different beauty products such as primer, foundation, and even your shampoo.

Many beauty companies use silicone due to its emollient, moisture locking, water-resistant, and smoothing qualities. Silicone is used in many foundations and primers to fill in pores and create a smooth canvas for makeup application. Its water and sweat-resistant properties make silicone a key player in many sunscreens, foundations, and deodorants. However, many critics of silicone believe that it can clog pores and even cause long-term damage.

So, what’s a girl to do? Let’s break it down:

The argument for silicone

Ann Chandler, in her article for, “The truth about silicones”, cites Yves Lanctôt, an independent chemist in Quebec on the subject. He states, “Silicones are non-toxic and very friendly for skin. They are safe to use even around the eye area. There are no studies I’m aware of that show silicones represent a danger to human skin.” Additionally, states that silicone can soothe certain skin irritations and that silicone molecules are too big to clog pores, therefore it is “unlikely for [silicone molecules] to penetrate past the surface of the skin”.

Regardless, some people hear the word silicone and run for the hills. In fact, more and more beauty and hair care companies are advertising silicone-free product formulations.

The argument against silicone

On the other end of the spectrum, many also believe that silicone sits on the top layer of the skin and creates a barrier that locks in bacteria, dirt, and oil. Elsa Mcalonan, in her article “Top tips from the skincare queens” for speaks with Dr. Raffaella Gregoris, creator of Bakel’s seven-piece skincare range, who warns: “Avoid silicones in skincare, as they simply ‘bulk-up’ creams. Silicones produce a wonderful texture, but they do nothing for the skin”. Similarly, the popular hair care line Carol’s Daughter states on its website: “Silicone can fill in small areas of weakness in your hair initially, but over time, it will cause your hair to become weighed down. Hair that is exposed to silicone-based products may actually promote breakage, and ultimately, this can make your hair look even worse than it may look right now.”

So, should you avoid products that contain silicone?

Whether or not you should use silicones comes down to your personal experience with silicones, along with your skin type.

Personally, I have very sensitive, clog-prone skin and prefer to stay away from products that contain high amounts of silicone because I don’t like the thought of something filling my pores. This is not to say that I have removed all traces of silicone from my beauty regimen. On occasion, I do use some products that contain silicone, including my favorite Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation. I must admit: silicone does give a beautiful, pore-less finish to the skin. Plus, I have found that using it occasionally doesn’t cause me to break out—especially if I properly remove all my makeup at the end of the day.

My mother always says, “Everything in moderation”. Silicones can be treated in a very similar way. Too much of anything can have adverse effects on your body. Depending on your skin type and personal experiences with silicone, you can determine whether or not silicone-based products are a good choice for you.

What are your thoughts? Do you use products that contain silicone?