Les silicones – l’or noir de la cosmétique
It's a particularly controversial ingredient that we hear a lot about. In recent years, the cosmetics industry has been trying to ban it, but it is still widely used and appreciated by its consumers.
Are they good or bad? Why are they found in almost all of our products? We tell you everything!
What are the different families of silicones?
There are five types :
Birds : these have several common characteristics. Initially, they are synthetic and therefore not allowed in organic products. They are also believed to be strong endocrine disruptors by accumulation and persistence in the environment. They are experiencing a restriction in European countries. They act as a skin care agent, hair conditioner, but also emollient for the skin or even a solvent .
Fluids : these are also synthetic. They do not know of any particular restriction. They are not very biodegradable and their impacts on the planet both from the point of view of their manufacture and their release into nature are not insignificant. They own the same stocks as the birds .
Erasers : the best known is dimethicone. Synthetic, it does not know any particular restriction. It is also not very biodegradable and has the following actions: anti-foaming agent, emollient and moisturizer.
Elastomers : they are also synthetic and little or not at all biodegradable. Like fluids and gums, they have no restriction per se. They are known for their properties as a viscosity control agent, hair fixative and emulsion stabilizer.
Resins : synthetic, they are widely used for their anti- foaming, emollient and opacifying actions.
Please at all costs
Everything starts from an observation: in an ultra competitive market, it is difficult for brands to find a place for themselves. To convince customers to test a product, it is first necessary to attract attention: hence the efforts invested in packaging and communication and advertising visuals.
Then comes the second step which is just as crucial: the in-store test . Now is the time for the brand to pull out all the stops to seduce, bewitch, and make people want to buy - and it all comes down to smell and texture !
Yes, because the long-term effectiveness of a cream is unfortunately not detected at first glance ... A lot of research effort has therefore gone into the sensory quality of products. And this is where silicones come in. A true miracle product, they provide everything one looks for in a product: a smooth and silky texture for creams, good hold for makeup, a smoothing effect for the hair ...
What does science say?
Silicones provide everything we are looking for in a product. From a sensory point of view yes, but absolutely not from a functional point of view! Silicones do nothing for the skin or the hair. They don't feed, they don't protect, they just settle on the surface. They even tend to dry out and need to be combined with other ingredients to compensate for the discomfort they can create. They give the illusion of health on the outside while suffocating from the inside.
The D5 and the D4 are the most common sillicones in the five types listed above. D5 is not considered to be an endocrine disruptor. Its use in cosmetic products is safe.
Measures have been taken by European experts to limit the release of D5 into the water. Its rapid evaporation and its degradation under the action of UV rays explain the lack of restriction of its use in leave-on products.
However, D4 is classified in the EU as toxic for production . Therefore, the level of impurity of cyclotetrasiloxane (D4) as an impurity of cyclopentasiloxane (D5) should be kept as low as possible.
Restrictions on these two constituents in rinse-out personal care products were put in place as part of the Reach regulation due to an environmental problem. Indeed, they are not biodegradable in water and biological tissues , causing toxicity for aquatic organisms.
So, good or bad?
Silicones have long been considered harmless for lack of studies. However, they are not beneficial for our organism… But it is for their impact on the environment that they are the most criticized! Silicones are very difficult to biodegrade, and when you think about the amount of water loaded with shampoo residues etc. which returns to the environment, we can imagine the accumulation that this can represent. Some silicones have been identified as toxic to aquatic organisms, and potentially carcinogenic to humans.
For makeup that lasts all day, and for hair care that perfectly tames the hair, nothing beats the effectiveness of silicones. To protect our environment from the accumulation of "microplastique"and as a precautionary principle for the impact on our health, it is better to avoid silicones in your beauty products.
How to detect them on the labels? These are generally ingredients whose names end in "-thicone" or "siloxane" . So now it's up to you! Take back control, choose the ingredients that suit you!
It's your turn ;)