Do You Use Products That Contain Silicone?
When I first met Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda and, more recently (thank goodness), Intelligent Nutrients, we spent a lot of time talking about silicone. Silicone, most of you probably know, is widely used in personal care products across the spectrum—from the relatively clean to your standard-issue drugstore brands. It’s especially useful in makeup, primer, sunscreen and tinted moisturizer because it gives products a slippery sit-on-skin feeling that allows for even spreading, no rubbing, and produces a nice surface on top of which you can go ahead and make your face.
It’s also in a lot on conditioners and leave-ins, because it sits on the shaft of your hair and can take the guesswork (and manual labor) out of smoothing unruly manes, especially when it’s humid out. My experience is that repeated use of silicone on my hair makes it look like complete and utter garbage. My experience with my skin has not been quite the same.
As a refresher, most of the people I have spoken with who swear against it do so for one of a number of reasons. Because it’s occlusive (that means it sits on the surface of the skin and blocks moisture from escaping—but also blocks other things from going in); because it might be comedogenic (the research is equivocal on this one); and because it “doesn’t break down in nature,” says Rechelbacher (and others). On the other hand, dimethicone’s molecule weight makes it impossible, I believe, to migrate past the top layer of your skin—which is where it’s designed to sit, anyway. That’s how it “works.” But our research is ongoing at this point.
I know natural-beady diehards who swear by it and diehards who would, well, die before they used a product that contains it. We were in the latter camp. Now, we’re rethinking our position—but the jury’s still out.
No More Dirty Looks has historically said no to all silicone. It wasn’t on the list of our dirty 20-or-so in the book, mainly because the research we were able to find about its toxicity was unconvincing. At the same time, we can appreciate that many ingredients don’t have nearly enough scientific data published about their safety, and we definitely skew more toward “when in doubt, don’t.”
But then something happened.
Regular readers will know that we have been on the hunt for the perfect sunscreen since before the book came out. Yes, there’s Vive Sana, but many of you find that way too thick, not to meant ion absurd looking on people who are a shade darker than Snow White. I happen not to be, and I liked it. I liked it a lot. (And in fairness, I know a few women with darker skin than me—not hard—who don’t feel like they’re wearing Halloween makeup with it on.) But over time, the thickness got to me, and I went looking for something a little more cosmetically appealing. Something a little thinner, maybe, more lotion-like. I found 100% Pure’s Argan Oil SPF 30. I fell in love. I shouted about it from the rooftops and I know I wasn’t alone. But soon, no one couldn’t get their hands on the stuff. Not in stores, not online, not through our trusted PR contacts. There wasn’t a bottle to be had, it seemed. So I used up the last of its sister product, the Pomegranate one with SPF 20, and prayed to the skincare gods for a replacement.
Then, as can happen sometimes at my amazing job, I came in one day to find a little white bottle on my chair.
Now, I’m going to hold off on telling you what brand it was because 1) it contains dimethicone and we’re still doing our homework, and 2) it’s beside the point because that’s not the conversation we want to have now. (Fear not: We will review it if we decide dimethicone is kosher for us—because, yes, we’ve been using it, and yes, we adore it.)
But right now we want to know…
Where do you stand on dimethicone? And if you’re anti, why? What research have you seen, either about its extraction method or its toxicity, to convince you?