Siloxanes in cosmetics; why should you avoid siloxanes?

My series about Cosmetics Dirty Dozen is presenting this time siloxanes aka polysiloxanes. They are very controversial cosmetic ingredients and there are many opinions on the safe use of them. But that’s how it always is with these chemicals. The cosmetics industry defends ingredients that should not be allowed in products at all. What are siloxanes and in which products are they used? What makes siloxanes harmful?

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Siloxanes are silicone-based compounds

Siloxanes are polymer-based compounds such as plastics. From plastics, siloxanes are separated by a silicon-oxygen chain. Siloxanes are by no means natural products. They are always made synthetically in chemical factories. Siloxanes are usually clear liquids. There are several different types of siloxanes.

Cyclomethicones are mainly used in cosmetics. Cyclomethicone is a mixture of 4D, 5D and 6D siloxanes. Dimethicone PDMS is also a common cosmetic ingredient. It is produced using 4D siloxane.

Siloxanes were considered safe for a long time and therefore they have been used as an cosmetics ingredient for a long time. Currently, the world produces about 400,000 metric tons of polysiloxanes annually. So, this is a massive business. The majority of this amount is used in cosmetics and other consumer products.

In addition to cosmetics, siloxanes can be found elsewhere in the home. Siloxanes are commonly used in polishing waxes, textile finishing products, shoe care and car care products etc.

Why are siloxanes used in cosmetics?

Siloxanes have been used in cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisturize skin and hair. Siloxanes also improve the properties of cosmetic products.

  • Creams do apply better and feel “silky” on the skin.
  • Roll-on deodorant glides easily on the skin thanks to siloxanes
  • Hair products containing siloxanes dry quickly
  • Siloxanes are important component in skin care products. Siloxanes cover small skin wrinkles and unevenness.

Siloxanes therefore play important role in cosmetics. Therefore, they are quite common in many products.

Siloxanes and the environment

Siloxanes are a problem for the environment. They are not biodegradable. Siloxanes are a sort of liquid plastic.

Solid silicone is not a problem for the body. In liquid form, silicone-based products are clearly more toxic. Siloxanes are able to be absorbed into tissues and cause problems for sea life. Scientists have not reached an agreement on the effect of siloxanes on water systems. For some reason, the siloxane content in the water has decreased but, in the fish, it has increased. No one can explain why.

The environmental effects of siloxanes in cosmetics have been studied to some extent objectively. Siloxanes used in cosmetics, such as cyclomethycones, are manufactured by one large multinational company only. The company is defending its own interests by constantly conducting studies of its own that overturn neutral research findings.

Siloxanes and health

Cyclomethycone accumulate in the body over time. It is feared to cause health problems in the future. The EU has been particularly concerned about the 4D and 5D siloxanes used in the manufacture of cyclomethycone.

4D siloxanes have been shown to interfere with human hormonal function and affect fertility.

5D siloxane is suspected to be associated with uterine tumours. 5D siloxane is also a hormonal problem and causes infertility.

In the EU and Canada, siloxanes have been classified as substances of very high concern

What does this concern mean in practice? In the EU, siloxanes are freely used in cosmetics but are being monitored. The situation is therefore the same as with microplastics.

In Canada, companies using siloxanes are required to report the matter to the Department of Health. However, the use of siloxanes is permitted and unrestricted.

If you are researching siloxanes from an INCI search, they are marked: no restrictions. However, this does not mean that siloxanes are harmless substances.

There has been virtually no progress in removing siloxanes from cosmetics products. Although siloxanes are clearly harmful to both the environment and humans, there are no decisions made.

Read more about toxic incredients

Get siloxane-free cosmetics

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

If you want to avoid siloxanes in cosmetics, carefully examine the ingredient list of your product. Makeup and haircare products in particular very often contain siloxanes. In make-up products and haircare products, siloxanes are almost irreplaceable.

I have many times heard following comment: if I can’t find such a good natural cosmetics product, I’ll go  back to basic cosmetics. At this point, you should take a moment to think about your values. Perfect makeup or hairstyle may not be possible without siloxanes. Could you compromise a little on your goals? Is the health of yourself and your environment important to you? However, would you get along without siloxanes?

Certified Natural Cosmetics does not contain siloxanes. Cosmetics certification bodies have not qualified siloxanes in any form for the products they approve.

Domestic small cosmetics workshops do make safe cosmetics without siloxanes. Small artisan workshops do not have the ability to obtain and maintain expensive certificates. Nevertheless, their products often even exceed the standards of natural cosmetics.

Do you like an organic cosmetic product instead of the usual cosmetics?

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