Firstly, I want to say that I am grateful at the number of people who are interested in doing better by their skin. You know how I can tell there are so many of you? …all the commercials on television for starters.
If you didn’t want it, the big box companies wouldn’t be branding their products with buzz words like barrier, biome, and hy-a-lur-on-ic ac-id! I’m not here to undermine the importance of those very real and important things! I just want to make sure you are getting what you think you are.
Greenwashing is not a new concept. As long as I can remember, marketing companies have used neutral colors, minimalist labeling, flowers, leaves, and words like natural, healthy, may-contain, free of… to persuade the purchaser who is looking to better their footprint, health and even the environment.
Things to be wary of – cheap as chips products. Your skin care products do not need to break the bank, but genuinely higher quality ingredients do come with a higher price tag, as well.
“…if it seems to good to be true, it probably is!”
Chemical Free – This one is tricky because everything has a chemical formula… even water! H20! … and there are vitamins and amino acids that I can’t pronounce that are good for your skin. Better that you consider the carrier of these healthy (non-synthetic) chemicals.
As I’m considering the overwhelming amount of information, I’m realizing that this may end up being a series… so today we’ll talk about just one.
Silicones are slippery ingredients that are safe (sort of) in that they are low hazard to humans, but there are studies showing some types are harmful to the environment as reported by Health Canada. When your natural barrier is weak, you lack lipids (the mortar that keeps the skin cell – bricks – connected). Silicone will fill the cracks but does not contain the lipids necessary to repair the damage. Silicones act as a barrier – offering a silky and luxurious ‘feeling’ that is only a temporary surface effect.
Silicones are hydrophobic, which literally means afraid of water – forming a seal (think cling wrap) over the skin which companies will use to claim the product keeps you hydrated for 24-48 hours after use. Hydration is something we all know we need but, let’s face it, we all layer products and this ingredient will keep the vitamins, peptides and truly hydrating molecules from entering your skin and doing their good work. It also traps debris, sweat, bacteria, dead skin cells and toxic environmental pollutants which can clog your pores – enlarging them – and creating an environment for breakouts. If you are already prone to congestion or acne… steer clear.
Our skin cycle – cell renewal – is every 3-4 weeks depending on health, age, and other factors like our routines. Sealing your skin like this inhibits cellular turn over; which means a build up of dead skin cells, leaving your skin dull, dehydrated and sluggish.
Silicone is used because it’s cheap! Products using raw, well sourced materials will have a shorter shelf life and be more expensive. Many beauty companies tend to be about the bottom line, though – so use of silicones is not limited to the ‘cheap as chips’ brands. Look for it in even the expensive lines you are using.
As consumers, we deserve higher quality ingredients that support skin health. As a start look for more botanic carriers like aloe or oils such as jojoba and shea; and stay away from products containing ingredients ending in ‘-cones’, or ‘-silonxanes’. Serums, moisturizers, face mists/setting spray, makeup, sunscreens… even your hair products can be guilty!
As someone who is really interested in helping people keep their skin healthy, it’s frustrating that beauty companies that claim to be saving your complexion are pumping out cheap formulations devoid of skin nutrition.
I really encourage you to seek healthier brands. Pro-tip… you might not find them in the drugstore. If none of this is news to you, please drop your favorite silicone free product in the comments!