Silicone in Skincare – Is It All That Bad?

Silicone in Skincare – Is It All That Bad?


Khadija B.
November 4, 2021

The world of skincare has undergone a radical change in recent years, and we’re more selective than ever about what ingredients we allow on our skin.

Although we’ve all but gotten rid of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates in many of our favorites, the jury is still out on silicone.

Is silicone in skincare bad? Silicone is found in some types of skincare, as proponents for it say that it aids healing and recovery of the skin.

While this is true when it’s used in a medical setting, adding it to skincare products won’t give you the same effect, and could end up doing more harm than good.

To settle the debate once and for all, we’re here to look at what’s good and bad about silicone and whether you can trust it in your favorite skincare product.

With a bit of insider knowledge and tips on how to find whether it’s an ingredient in your next purchase, you’ll have all of the information you need to make an informed choice.

What Is Silicone?

What Is Silicone?

Silicone is a name for a group of substances that are a derivative of silica, which is the main component of sand.

When applied to the skin, they create a coating that acts like a barrier, and they’re able to repel water and air.

These semi-liquid substances have been used for decades in healthcare and skincare because of these properties.

However, just because they start out as a natural substance, they go through a chemical process to take on their final form which is why there’s some hesitancy when adding them to your skin.

When used for healthcare, they’re effective in doing everything from treating wounds to making prosthetics, but in skincare, they might not be as healing.

The slick feeling that they leave on your skin after applying them feels good, but that could be where the benefits end.

Why Is There Silicone in My Skincare Products?


Silicone has long been used in skincare products, but it wasn’t until recent times that people started voicing their concerns about it.

As a relatively affordable ingredient and one that goes well with the intended effects of skincare and cosmetics, it made sense to put it in everything from foundation to sunscreen.

Applying silicone to your skin in a product makes it feel soft and velvety, which is one huge reason why cosmetics brands include them, and so do their customers.

They’re also efficient at resisting water so you’ll commonly find them in products where this is needed and where being waterproof is a huge benefit, like sunscreens, foundations, and powders.

The Good and the Bad

The Good and the Bad

Everyone’s needs for skincare and cosmetics are different, with some people being vigilant about what’s inside theirs and others not minding as much.

If you’re still on the fence about silicone in your favorite product, consider the pros and cons that might sway you either way.

The Pros

  • Soft, luxurious texture: The feeling that silicone leaves on your skin after it’s applied is soft and velvety, which can help spread products further and make them feel amazing. There’s less chance you’ll have a dried-out complexion or cakey finish when you’ve got silicone or something similar in your skincare and cosmetics.
  • Effective carrier product: When used with other harsher ingredients, silicone acts as a carrier and makes them gentler on your face. As silicone itself is considered a low hazard in terms of safety, you can feel good about applying it to your face and diluting other tougher elements.
  • Plump and supple feeling: Some users report a feeling of plumpness that comes with the softness. When you’re applying something like a primer or moisturizer to the face and hoping for a supple glow, you might be able to achieve it with silicone.
  • Pore minimizer: Certain types of silicone used in makeup and skincare help to minimize the appearance of pores by making a more blurred texture on the skin. Although it’s not delivering any real health benefits, it’s good for aesthetic purposes.
  • Water-resistant: Anyone who’s been caught in the rain with a face full of makeup will know exactly why this one counts. Silicone is a natural repellent of moisture which means it keeps everything underneath it in place. You’ll usually find a good dose of silicone in a setting spray for this very reason.

The Cons

  • No real health benefits: Most of the advantages that silicone offers only go skin deep, so they’re not delivering any of those benefits underneath. When it comes to skincare that aims to boost the health of your complexion and not just cover it up, this is a pretty big downside.
  • Smothers your pores: While silicone is super effective at creating a barrier, that also means it traps stuff on the other side as well. Coating your face with silicone increase the amount of sebum, dirt, makeup, and bacteria that are stored in your pores, giving them no place to escape to.
  • Skin problems: After it traps this excess oil and bacteria, you can expect silicone to also lead to a build-up the stuff that causes acne and pimples. Some people also report dryness of the skin after they’ve washed the product away because the silicone was effectively preventing them from getting much-needed moisture.
  • Hard to remove: As an efficient water resister, silicone is pretty good at stopping your nightly shower water from washing it away. You’ll need to work extra hard just to get rid of it and remove it from your pores, which can cause a lot of damage to your face as you do.
  • Stops other products from absorbing: As it’s trapped in your pores and hard to get off, you’ll find that the rest of your skincare products fail to absorb as well as they should. Consider what else you’re applying and whether silicone-infused products could be preventing them from doing their job.

How to Tell if There’s Silicone In Your Skin Care

How to Tell if There’s Silicone In Your Skin Care

Skincare and cosmetics brands are pretty clever at hiding ingredients in plain sight, and if you’re looking for something specific and trying to avoid it, it might not be as easy as you think.

If you’ve decided to steer clear of silicone-based formulas and products, you need a keen eye to find them.

The best thing you can do for your skin is to become a detective when it comes to checking ingredient lists of products.

The most obvious hint will be to find the word ‘silicone’ written on the ingredient list on the packaging or check the product page on their website, and if you’re still unsure, do a quick search online.

Some manufacturers will try to hide the fact that there’s silicone in their products and will write it a different way or use various forms so that it’s not easily detectable.

If you see anything that ends in ‘ane’ or ‘one’, this can indicate that they’re a derivative of silicone as well, so do some further snooping to find out.

Treating Your Skin to the Best

While there’s still a lot of debate about the effectiveness and safety of silicone content in skincare, we can all agree that our skin deserves the very best.

If you’re concerned about the potential downsides of using this ingredient in your skincare, be vigilant and read every label to make sure you avoid it.

Related Questions

One of the trickiest things about choosing new skincare products is knowing exactly what the ingredients on the label mean.

If you need a crash course on some of the more common contents of skincare are today, read on for some frequently asked questions that might be able to help.

Why Are Parabens Bad?

Many skincare products are now excluding parabens from their formulas because they can mimic estrogen and disrupt your natural hormone function.

Even when applied to the skin and not ingested, this increase in estrogen can pose major health risks, even being linked to breast cancer and related conditions.

What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do?

What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do?

Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in moisturizing and hydrating products, including serums and moisturizers.

As a naturally occurring sugar in the body, it can provide intense moisturization and keep skin hydrated, so it’s a popular choice for skincare products that aim to be both effective and natural.

Does Ceramide Clog Pores?

When used alone, ceramides shouldn’t clog the pores on your skin, but when combined with other ingredients, it is possible.

If you already have oily skin or experience problems with clogged pores, choose a ceramide formula that doesn’t contain any oil to prevent the buildup.


Khadija B.