By Siobhan O’Connor for NoMoreDirtyLooks.com
When I first met Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda and, more recently (thank goodness), Intelligent Nutrients, we spent a lot of time talking about silicone. Silicone, most of you probably know, is widely used in personal care products across the spectrum—from the relatively clean to your standard-issue drugstore brands. It’s especially useful in makeup, primer, sunscreen and tinted moisturizer because it gives products a slippery sit-on-skin feeling that allows for even spreading, no rubbing, and produces a nice surface on top of which you can go ahead and make your face.
It’s also in a lot on conditioners and leave-ins, because it sits on the shaft of your hair and can take the guesswork (and manual labor) out of smoothing unruly manes, especially when it’s humid out. My experience is that repeated use of silicone on my hair makes it look like complete and utter garbage. My experience with my skin has not been quite the same.
As a refresher, most of the people I have spoken with who swear against it do so for one of a number of reasons. Because it’s occlusive (that means it sits on the surface of the skin and blocks moisture from escaping—but also blocks other things from going in); because it might be comedogenic (the research is equivocal on this one); and because it “doesn’t break down in nature,” says Rechelbacher (and others). On the other hand, dimethicone’s molecule weight makes it impossible, I believe, to migrate past the top layer of your skin—which is where it’s designed to sit, anyway. That’s how it “works.” But our research is ongoing at this point.
I know natural-beady diehards who swear by it and diehards who would, well, die before they used a product that contains it. We were in the latter camp. Now, we’re rethinking our position—but the jury’s still out.
No More Dirty Looks has historically said no to all silicone. It wasn’t on the list of our dirty 20-or-so in the book, mainly because the research we were able to find about its toxicity was unconvincing. At the same time, we can appreciate that many ingredients don’t have nearly enough scientific data published about their safety, and we definitely skew more toward “when in doubt, don’t.”
But then something happened.