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Silicones And Acne - Sharing Some Info

silicone acne comedogenic noncomedogenic

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#1 adalyn

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 03:46 PM

Recently I became curious about the claim that silicone is occlusive and causes acne, so I decided to take a look at some information on it, and share it with you guys. Any thoughts? It'd be nice to see what everyone's opinion on silicones and acne is.

According to Cosmetics Cop by Paula Begoun, there's scientific evidence and reasoning that shows that silicones do not suffocate skin or clog pores:

"... the molecular structure of commonly used silicones makes it impossible for them to suffocate skin. The unique molecular structure of silicones (larger molecules with wider spaces between each molecule) allow them to form a breathable barrier and also explains why silicones rarely feel heavy or occlusive, although they offer protection against moisture loss (Source: The Chemistry and Manufacture of Cosmetics, Volume 3, Book 2, Allured Publishing Corporation, 2002, pages 833-839).

Furthermore, "silicone fillers are sometimes used for improving the appearance of acne scars. That certainly wouldn't be the case if silicone was a pore-clogging ingredient (Source: Dermatology Research and Practice, October 2010, Epublication). Perhaps the most telling reason why silicones do not clog pores and cause acne (or blackheads) is because, from a chemistry standpoint, most silicones are volatile substances. That means their initially viscous (thick) texture evaporates quickly and does not penetrate the pore lining where acne is formed."

Interestingly, on her Facebook page for her line of products Paula's Choice, she responds to a fan who gets cysts shortly after she uses products with silicones. Here's a really interesting quote from Paula's reply:

"It is a fact that silicone doesn't clog pores because silicone isn't occlusive (just the opposite), and there is no research showing it to cause breakouts, neither mild nor cystic... However, just because there isn't research doesn't mean a problem doesn't exist for some people."

She also continues:

"Having said that, I'd advise you to stay away from silicones... When it comes to acne, it takes experimenting to see what works—even I'm surprised by what my skin likes and doesn't like! The major thing is to only use products that have great ingredients and no irritants; never compromise on that."

Shoot and discuss. :)

#2 gemmyjunebug

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 05:00 PM

Thank you so much for posting this! I started a thread on this subject as well. First I need say something about Paula. When she first hit the market with her book I was very grateful. It was full of informative and realistic advice. Though as of lately- she has really gotten under my skin.(no pun intended) Her honest opinions and advice at one time I found creditable. Now, not so much. She is selling her brand. That is it. She does give credit where credit is due to some brands. She also then follows her smile face compliment with a backhanded insult as to why it could be better. Then so gracefully shmoozes her brand as a replacement. I enjoy the ingredient list the most. It solid, scientific, information. Anywhoooo. There's my rant. Now about silicones.
Everyone's skin is so different. What most can use without question-I cannot. It sucks. But I'm over it. What I find interesting when I use silicones is how red my face gets after they are applied. I also feel like my skin is wrapped in cellophane. I get the surface pimples mostly on my forehead if I use a product with a silicone in the formulation. If I use a silicone product in my hair my scalp gets pimples. My chin gets the worse. Deep, deep, pimples from this product use. Some could say it may be other ingredients in the product list. It could very well be if I was a product jumper. That I am not. When I do find something that works I stick with it without question. I also do an ingredient list check and re-check before purchase. It takes me so darn long to find a usable product I'm well aware-to almost OCD about it. Most of my breakouts that were a result of silicones were from hair care products. I did take a chance on a lotion last year when I had no choice but to use since mine was left at home while on vacation. I tried my best to find the best. One of the worst breakouts since a Bare Minerals rash. It was bad. So do they cause breakouts? I would say yes if your prone to acne breakouts. No, or maybe if you have normal skin. But who has normal skin? Great Thread! Thanks again!

Another big no-no for me is mineral oil. I get the same reaction. The blue dye put in products as well. If I even come close to Dawn soap my hands break out in a blister like rash. quaternium-15 is also a big reaction waiting to happen. This one is tricky. It goes by so many other names. This research was all done over a long,painful,time. That is when my Dr. suggested allergy testing and a journal.

Edited by gemmyjunebug, 08 November 2011 - 05:11 PM.


#3 leighbrack2

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 06:55 PM

Thank you so much for posting this! I started a thread on this subject as well. First I need say something about Paula. When she first hit the market with her book I was very grateful. It was full of informative and realistic advice. Though as of lately- she has really gotten under my skin.(no pun intended) Her honest opinions and advice at one time I found creditable. Now, not so much. She is selling her brand. That is it. She does give credit where credit is due to some brands. She also then follows her smile face compliment with a backhanded insult as to why it could be better. Then so gracefully shmoozes her brand as a replacement. I enjoy the ingredient list the most. It solid, scientific, information. Anywhoooo. There's my rant. Now about silicones.
Everyone's skin is so different. What most can use without question-I cannot. It sucks. But I'm over it. What I find interesting when I use silicones is how red my face gets after they are applied. I also feel like my skin is wrapped in cellophane. I get the surface pimples mostly on my forehead if I use a product with a silicone in the formulation. If I use a silicone product in my hair my scalp gets pimples. My chin gets the worse. Deep, deep, pimples from this product use. Some could say it may be other ingredients in the product list. It could very well be if I was a product jumper. That I am not. When I do find something that works I stick with it without question. I also do an ingredient list check and re-check before purchase. It takes me so darn long to find a usable product I'm well aware-to almost OCD about it. Most of my breakouts that were a result of silicones were from hair care products. I did take a chance on a lotion last year when I had no choice but to use since mine was left at home while on vacation. I tried my best to find the best. One of the worst breakouts since a Bare Minerals rash. It was bad. So do they cause breakouts? I would say yes if your prone to acne breakouts. No, or maybe if you have normal skin. But who has normal skin? Great Thread! Thanks again!

Another big no-no for me is mineral oil. I get the same reaction. The blue dye put in products as well. If I even come close to Dawn soap my hands break out in a blister like rash. quaternium-15 is also a big reaction waiting to happen. This one is tricky. It goes by so many other names. This research was all done over a long,painful,time. That is when my Dr. suggested allergy testing and a journal.



Great Post Gemmy!
I totally disagree with Paula on so many levels. I do not find her research credible at all, I read her books and found them to be complete garbage. Being someone who is largely into Holistic health/Dermatology and studies Herbally, I find that anything that stops the bodies natural detoxification process will indeed cause problems. Yes, Silicones do STOP the skin from detoxing!
The info below is from the UK Health Report. They have much stricter guidelines on what is allowed in cosmetics banning 1000's of ingredients while the US only bans around 100.
Silicone emollients are occlusive - that is they coat the skin, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to breathe (much like plastic wrap would do.)
Recent studies have indicated that prolonged exposure of the skin to sweat, by occlusion, causes skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients are known tumour promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are also non-biodegradable, causing negative environmental impact.
  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethicone Copolyol
  • Cyclomethicone
Silicone was and still is used as breast implants. Tens of thousands of women with breast implants have complained of debilitating symptoms. Anecdotal evidence indicates silicone to be toxic to the human body. For more detailed information on the dangers of silicone simply key "silicone toxicity" into the Google search engine



Silcones are a rubber like compound and are also used in things like Caulk, adhesives and sealants. Silicones are synthetically made and have links to mutations when tested on animals. I do not understand for one second why anyone acne prone would consider using something that has no benefits to the skin except a temporary fill in for the cracks etc. It certainly isn't going to help the skin long term and it has been discussed about the possibility for your skin to actually become dependent on it. It is a barrier product and is occlusive, so your skin will not detox. In the end everyone will choose their own method and everyone should make their own decision. I just wanted to put out information that takes some people years of misery to find out. You may not see immediate problems with it, but it can cause issues later on down the road. Your body is subject to the man made chemicals and synthetics we put on it. This is why even at Sephora or any cosmetic store they are starting to put more focus on No Petrol Products, No Preservatives, No Parabens etc. Because people are becoming more savy consumers and are becoming educated as to what is being used in their products. Everyone should hear both sides so they can make an informed choice. Good post by the way Adelyn. Posted Image

Edited by leighbrack2, 08 November 2011 - 06:56 PM.


#4 leighbrack2

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:19 PM

I actually just found a pretty accurate and very thorough review of Paula Begoun. Here is a clip from the review the whole review can be found here...........http://www.epinions....ent_78407437956
This is someones opinion but she makes several valid points on why I do not follow any of Paulas advice.

"Paula begins the book by telling the story of working as an Elizabeth Arden saleswoman, and getting fired when she told her customers to use hydrogen peroxide instead of buying Elizabeth Arden toner. And this pretty much sets the tone (pun!) of the book: she casts herself as some sort of consumer advocate. But it's really just nonsense."

"As far as this hydrogen peroxide story (at the beginning of Paula's book) goes - since then, it's been discovered that repeated use of hydrogen peroxide as toner is actually quite harmful to your skin. Now, I'm not blaming Paula for being wrong about this - no one knew about this back then. But the point is that she didn't know, because she's not "in the know": she's not at the cutting-edge of skin care technology. Yes, she reads scientific studies and quotes them to suit her own agenda, but that does not make her a scientist."

#5 adalyn

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:03 PM

@gemmyjunebug: Dang girl! That really stinks. I'm not super acne prone to products with a bit of silicone but I am to products that are mostly silicone, like silicone primers. I have to exercise caution with things that have silicone but it's not a primary factor that will definitely me break out. That's really crazy for you though because silicone is in everything! I also didn't know that you could also have specific allergies or sensitivity to other chemicals as well - thank you for sharing. And I'm also super OCD about petrolatum and mineral oil in products as well - or with anything that has oil in it. Although research also shows that petrolatum and mineral oil don't clog pores, it sure gives me a good bumpy face the very next day.

@leighbrack2: It's really super interesting to hear about the UK since I lived there for a bit, and boy their ingredient control is a lot more strict! I also heard the EU in general is much more strict about ingredients than the US is. I also read somewhere that most of the EU banned products that are animal tested. Oh by the way, do you have a link to the report? I'd really like to read it because like you guys, I'm super OCD about knowing about ingredients because of acne issues.

And also from the both of you - wow, I didn't know that Paula was so heavily criticized. I just knew that she studied science and was a makeup artist, but there wasn't any info on her continuing her scientific studies or going to grad school. As much as I hate to say it - her lack of certification doesn't make her very convincing either. She does have a few valid points though, so I guess there has to be something said about her professionalism (or lack thereof if she has an agenda for profit making).

#6 leighbrack2

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:43 PM

http://www.health-re...s-directory.htm
Sorry I can't seem to find the actual page I was at. Great Post though Adelyn! :)

Edited by leighbrack2, 08 November 2011 - 09:21 PM.


#7 Siouxsie

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 12:39 AM

I find many foundations with silicones to break me out a bit more than normal if I use them on a regular basis...maybe it's another ingredient in there, but the pattern is the same. However, occasional use is not an issue. I sometimes use a silicone primer when I'm going out for extra oil control & because of its "smoothing" effect on the appearance of pores. This doesn't seem to be a problem for me unless I do it too often. I have yet to try moisturizers with silicones, but many wrinkle creams have them and I'm heading towards wrinkle cream years....I've wanted to try some Oil of Olay Regenerist products, for example....but I digress...

Paula's advice-spouting doesn't bug me....I think it's just important to not trust someone so much that you stop thinking for yourself. She puts info out there, and I think it's with mostly good motive, but there's other info out there to consider also. As individuals we have to discern for ourselves what info is reliable vs what is being presented with a view to sell products, as well as discerning what works for our own skin and what doesn't.

I do wonder if all silicones are created equal and/or if the amount in a product makes a difference. For instance, Cyclopentasiloxane, an ingredient in one of those Olay products, is supposed to be watery & evaporate easily, which seems promising in terms of not being comedogenic....and it's officially NOT supposed to be comedogenic.

#8 acowles

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 05:33 PM

so are there any foundations and primers without silcone?? right now im using smashbox primer and revlon colorstay foundation.

#9 y3rfd0g

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 05:54 PM

I just want to say that when I stopped using moisturizers with silicone, I stopped getting clogged pores and blackheads. I didn't realize how my skin can naturally glow!

I use Pratima neem oil sunscreen which gives my skin a smooth feel and milky look. I wouldn't dare to use my old olay products or anything else again. I am almost certain that I cannot use silicones. Now, I found a foundation, Rejuva minerals, that does not have dimethicone in it, but my skin broke out in this little rash. I stopped using it, and now use Aveda, which is very different from all the other foundations and mineral powders I've tried- shiseido, bare minerals, everyday minerals, rejuva minerals, almay, mabelline, etc. I have been using Aveda makeup for a few days and so far no skin irritation or more clogged pores to note.

One time, I did use a moisturizer (olay?) after not using it for a looong time (2 months) and I felt like my skin was suffocating. It felt as if it felt like saran (sp?) on my face and I would sweat more easily. I thought, "yuck! I remember this feeling!!"

So there you go. I decided not to listen to what people think it it for or that it supposedly doesnt cause acne. My acne has been greatly reduced because I stopped using silicones.

#10 l'espoir

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 01:18 AM

so are there any foundations and primers without silcone?? right now im using smashbox primer and revlon colorstay foundation.


Korres' Quercetin & Oak primer is silicone-free, but I've never tried it and I'm not sure if it contains other comedogenic ingredients. And Tarte's ReCreate primer is silicone-free, but again, I haven't tried it and can't vouch for it. I have tried Tarte's ReCreate foundation and liked it, but it is NOT silicone free. I've sworn off liquid primers and foundation and am currently using Meow Cosmetics mineral makeup with good results. The coverage is definitely not the same, but I've found that I don't need as much coverage because I'm not breaking out like I was with liquid makeup.

#11 dieffenbachia

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:59 PM

According to Cosmetics Cop by Paula Begoun, there's scientific evidence and reasoning that shows that silicones do not suffocate skin or clog pores:

"... the molecular structure of commonly used silicones makes it impossible for them to suffocate skin. The unique molecular structure of silicones (larger molecules with wider spaces between each molecule) allow them to form a breathable barrier and also explains why silicones rarely feel heavy or occlusive, although they offer protection against moisture loss (Source: The Chemistry and Manufacture of Cosmetics, Volume 3, Book 2, Allured Publishing Corporation, 2002, pages 833-839).

Furthermore, "silicone fillers are sometimes used for improving the appearance of acne scars. That certainly wouldn't be the case if silicone was a pore-clogging ingredient (Source: Dermatology Research and Practice, October 2010, Epublication). Perhaps the most telling reason why silicones do not clog pores and cause acne (or blackheads) is because, from a chemistry standpoint, most silicones are volatile substances. That means their initially viscous (thick) texture evaporates quickly and does not penetrate the pore lining where acne is formed."

Interestingly, on her Facebook page for her line of products Paula's Choice, she responds to a fan who gets cysts shortly after she uses products withsilicones. Here's a really interesting quote from Paula's reply:

"It is a fact that silicone doesn't clog pores because silicone isn't occlusive (just the opposite), and there is no research showing it to cause breakouts, neither mild nor cystic... However, just because there isn't research doesn't mean a problem doesn't exist for some people."


So I'm not sure about Paula's claims that she makes about the chemical properties of silicone, which she references as coming from The Chemistry and Manufacture of Cosmetics, as I can't get access to an online version of this book to check the source. However, when she references the article from Dermatology Research and Practice, October 2010, and claims "silicone fillers are sometimes used for improving the appearance of acne scars. That certainly wouldn't be the case if silicone was a pore-clogging ingredient " this is a non sequitur - of course you could get a treatment that could cause pore-clogging; the actions are mutually exclusive.

I decided that her illogical argument deserved more scrutiny. The article she referenced I believe is this one: Acne Scars: Pathogenesis, classification and Treatment, Accepted 28 September 2010

In the first instance, this article doesn't point to any evidence of silicone not being pore-clogging, only that it may help diminish the appearance of acne scars (she puts the reference at the end of the wrong sentence). However, the article itself is poorly referenced wrt evidence of silicone gel treatment as it doesn't point to any actual original research when it makes its claims about silicone for acne scar treatment (it merely references another review article but claims this is original research).

A more developed review from the Cochrane Review Library suggests that essentially the evidence for silicones in treatment of hypertrophic or keloid scarring is not convincing due to the biases in the trials:

Trials evaluating silicon gel sheeting as a treatment for hypertrophic and keloid scarring are of poor quality and highly susceptible to bias. There is weak evidence of a benefit of silicon gel sheeting as a prevention for abnormal scarring in high risk individuals but the poor quality of research means a great deal of uncertainty prevails. (http://onlinelibrary...6.pub2/abstract)

Again, this all concerns scar treatment not the prevention or aggravation of acne.
So far I haven't been able to find any sufficient evidence to back Paula's claim (or otherwise) that silicones do not have occlusive properties. The point is that silicones act as filling agents, this doesn't necessarily mean that they prevent gas exchange with the skin however, it certainly doesn't prove that they don't clog pores. I will continue researching for evidence either way on the pore-clogging front