Do Silicone Ingredients Cause Breakouts On the Skin?

Samples of silicone on paper, dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane

If you’re vulnerable to breakouts, you then certainly take note of ingredient labels when shopping for new skincare or make-up merchandise. Those with blemish-prone pores and skin are sometimes very targeted on avoiding pore-clogging components (rightfully so). One group of components that has gotten fairly a foul status for clogging pores is silicones. But do silicones actually trigger blemishes, and will they be prevented by these with acne-prone pores and skin?

The easy reply is, no. Most silicones are very agreeable with pores and skin sorts which might be vulnerable to clogged pores and blemishes. It all comes right down to which type you utilize, in addition to what different components are within the method, as I’ll clarify.

What’s the Deal With “Comedogenicity?”

Comedogenicity is a time period that will get thrown round rather a lot in skincare, so first, let me outline what it truly means.

“Comedogenic” is a technical time period for “pore-clogging.” Since a lot of my merchandise are designed to handle acne-prone pores and skin, I’ve studied comedogenicity extensively in my beauty chemistry programs in addition to within the lab when formulating merchandise. Essentially, comedogenicity refers to how doubtless sure topical brokers (primarily emollients) are to trigger the event of comedones. A product or ingredient that causes comedones to develop is taken into account comedogenic.

In oily pores and skin sorts which might be vulnerable to clogged pores and zits, cell buildup (additionally known as retention hyperkeratosis) happens on the follicle partitions. Dead cells construct up and are coated by oil, which is being over-produced on this pores and skin kind. Acne micro organism feed off fatty acids, which they break down out of your pores and skin’s pure oils. It’s true that when utilized to the pores and skin’s floor, SOME oils and emollients additional coat these follicle partitions. This can probably exacerbate breakout circumstances. For individuals who don’t expertise points with blemishes (equivalent to dry pores and skin sorts), the usage of these heavier components shouldn’t be an issue in any respect—and in reality, can truly assist to restore dryness.

Facts About Silicones

There’s rather a lot that folks don’t find out about this ubiquitous group of components, so right here’s a quick introduction to silicones and what they do:

  • They are utilized in skincare and make-up merchandise to ship a easy, tender, velvety texture to the pores and skin
  • They assist deposit energetic efficiency components, shade, and fragrances evenly over the pores and skin
  • They optically diffuse mild to melt the look of wrinkles and pores
  • They are a category of components, so that you’ll by no means see simply the phrase “silicone” listed
  • Not all silicones stay on the pores and skin after you apply them because of the totally different charges of volatility*
  • They have much more advantages than dangers
  • The most typical sorts utilized in make-up and skincare are cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, dimethiconol, Cyclomethicone, cyclohexasiloxane, and cetearyl methicone.

*Volatility can greatest be described because the diploma to which a molecule needs to be airborne into the environment. It’s the pace of the ingredient evaporation. Usually, smaller molecules need to be airborne (instance: isopropyl alcohol) and the heavier ones don’t (instance: Vaseline). You can correlate volatility with weight.

PROS of Silicones

  • Hypoallergenic and gained’t sensitize the pores and skin, making them supreme for simply irritated complexions
  • Silicones themselves is not going to clog the pores
  • Give a good looking silky really feel when unfold over the pores and skin
  • Soften the look of tremendous traces and wrinkles
  • Will offset dryness brought on by harsh zits merchandise equivalent to benzoyl peroxide and topical antibiotics
  • Can assist handle flakiness and cracking of the pores and skin in these with eczema and psoriasis circumstances
  • Won’t depart a greasy really feel, making it supreme for shiny pores and skin sorts the place a light-weight method is desired
  • Protects pores and skin from environmental pollution by making a “breathable” barrier over the pores and skin whereas nonetheless permitting nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapors to go by means of
  • They assist forestall transepidermal water loss (TEWL) to maintain pores and skin feeling moist even in dry climates like airplanes or the desert
  • Can enhance penetration of different components utilized in a product (will also be a con, see beneath)

CONS of Silicones

  • Can enhance the penetration of another components utilized in a product, which might result in clogged pores. If there are components in a method that aren’t appropriate with oily, acne-prone pores and skin sorts (like some lipid-rich plant oils utilized in excessive concentrations), the silicone components might facilitate a blockage within the pore lining. This is what can probably result in clogged pores and blemishes, not the silicone itself. Note: Not all silicones have the power to do that, as I’ll describe beneath!

Silicones Beneficial For Oily, Blemish-Prone Skin

These silicones are light-weight and have comparatively excessive volatility. This means they tend to evaporate and don’t linger on the pores and skin or create an occlusive barrier.


Cyclopentasiloxane is light-weight and permits skincare merchandise to glide properly onto the pores and skin with out leaving a greasy feeling. After just a few moments, it evaporates from the pores and skin, leaving the opposite components behind. Anyone involved about merchandise creating an occlusive barrier shouldn’t fear about cyclopentasiloxane of their formulation as a result of it basically simply acts as a service then goes away.


This silicone is a mix of cyclotetrasiloxane and cyclopentasiloxane, which have excessive volatility making them evaporate after a while. This makes Cyclomethicone non-occlusive and completely secure for shiny, blemish-prone pores and skin sorts.


Cyclohexasiloxane is a mix of siloxanes with pretty excessive volatility, so it ought to evaporate off the pores and skin and be simply tolerated by oily, blemish-prone pores and skin sorts.

Silicones NOT Beneficial For Oily, Blemish-prone Skin  (But Good For Other Skin Types)

These silicones have low volatility, that means they don’t actually evaporate off the pores and skin and may create an occlusive barrier that is probably not supreme for these vulnerable to clogged pores. Remember that this doesn’t make them “unhealthy” components—these silicones are nonetheless wonderful selections for these with dry pores and skin sorts.


Dimethiconol has low volatility and doesn’t actually evaporate. This is useful if you’d like it to remain on the pores and skin to assist right dryness and forestall moisture evaporation from occurring.

Cetearyl Methicone

This is a tender silicone wax that coats the pores and skin. It offers a number of slip to a formulation nevertheless it’s not unstable, so it will be thought of a great occlusive for dry pores and skin sorts in want of moisture restore. This means, nonetheless, that it’s not supreme for these vulnerable to breakouts.

NOTE: To reiterate, it’s NOT the silicone that’s the concern. It’s provided that the method consists of different heavy, wealthy components that the silicone permits to be pushed deeper into the pore. So if there will not be different heavier components utilized in a method, then these silicones technically shouldn’t trigger issues in blemish-prone pores and skin.

Silicones That Could Be Good OR Bad for Oily, Blemish-Prone Skin

Sometimes, you simply can’t inform from an ingredient label how doubtless a silicone is to result in clogged pores. It might rely fully on how the silicone is formulated, as is the case with dimethicone.


This one is sort of sophisticated as a result of it could have many totally different weights. A formulator can use dimethicone that’s extraordinarily unstable, the place it evaporates off the pores and skin inside seconds making it secure for shiny pores and skin sorts. Or, a formulator might use dimethicone that’s extraordinarily heavy with no volatility, inflicting it to remain on the pores and skin and carry different probably pore-clogging components into the pores. It’s nearly unattainable for me as a formulator, not to mention you as a client, to take a look at an ingredient label and know which weight of dimethicone was used. The backside line? You can’t kind assumptions when seeing dimethicone on an ingredient listing.

The Silicone Test

Last 12 months once I did a weblog publish about liquid foundations, I did an oil migration take a look at to assist me draw some semi science-based conclusions as to which of them had been the perfect for shiny, acne-prone pores and skin.

I needed to do an identical demonstration with silicones. My aim was to offer you a visible illustration of how in a different way varied silicones can act in your pores and skin primarily based on their composition. I made a decision to get science-y once more to point out you some visuals:

Samples of silicone on paper, dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane

To start, I bought samples of three totally different silicones from the lab and put just a few drops of every on paper. As you may see, I examined cyclopentasiloxane in addition to two totally different dimethicone samples—one with a low molecular weight and one with a excessive molecular weight.

After 45 Minutes


After 45 minutes, you can begin to see how lengthy every silicone stays in its kind. This is an indicator of volatility (the speed at which one thing evaporates). You may also see that the extra unstable formulation unfold out extra earlier than evaporating, which could affect how and when a beauty formulator decides to make use of them.

One factor you may’t inform from the photograph is the consistency of every silicone. Both the cyclopentasiloxane (on the left) and the extremely unstable dimethicone (within the center) are the consistency of water however with a slippery, silky really feel. The non-volatile dimethicone (on the fitting) is a thicker consistency like that of syrup, but additionally with a silky really feel.

After Two Hours


After two hours, each the cyclopentasiloxane and the extra unstable dimethicone had evaporated fully. This signifies that they’d not coat the pores and skin as a lot as the upper molecular weight dimethicone on the fitting. The dimethicone on the fitting can be higher for staying in place and creating an occlusive layer over the pores and skin.

The Conclusion

The first two silicones are fast-drying and wouldn’t present a long-lasting occlusive impact, so neither ought to be problematic for clogged pore-prone pores and skin. Both would give merchandise a pleasant, easy texture and good spreadability.

The dimethicone on the fitting has the next molecular weight than the primary two silicones, so it will coat the pores and skin as a substitute of evaporating. It is an occlusive and would create a barrier, making it supreme for dry pores and skin however not for shiny pores and skin—particularly if there are different pore-clogging components used throughout the identical method.

Needless to say, not all silicones are created equal. I hope this demonstration offers you a glimpse into simply how in a different way varied silicones can act on the pores and skin. There is a lot variation among the many components that fall below the umbrella of ‘silicones’ and there’s no motive to swear all of them off. It’s nearly selecting those which might be appropriate with your pores and skin kind.

Are Silicones Biodegradable?

It is dependent upon which sort of silicone and what it’s functionalized with. Some will not be readily biodegradable, which suggests they’ll ultimately biodegrade nevertheless it takes time relying on just a few components. Other research present that silicones can accumulate within the atmosphere (water) and that they’re not readily biodegradable. It’s an enormous debate in our trade as a result of there are numerous conflicting research.

So Should I Use Silicones On My Skin?

If you want the feel and appear of your pores and skin whenever you use silicone-based merchandise then maintain utilizing them. However, if you happen to suppose a silicone-based product could be inflicting breakouts, it might very nicely be from one other ingredient within the method. I like to recommend that you simply strive a unique method however not rule out silicone fully.

The most essential level I’d prefer to make about skincare formulation is which you could’t choose a product by an ingredient label. The outcomes a product delivers (constructive or adverse) are primarily based in your distinctive pores and skin, in addition to the odds of the components utilized in a product—and also you’ll by no means know these percentages from wanting on the listing on the again of a bottle or jar. Simply put, you may’t inform the true outcomes of a product till you truly strive it. This is why I at all times counsel solely introducing one new product at a time, in addition to doing a patch take a look at earlier than you utilize it over your total face. This manner, in case your pores and skin responds negatively, not less than you may pinpoint which product it could be.

Read the best way to hydrate oily, acne-prone pores and skin with out inflicting breakouts. Got zits? There is an upside.

An enormous thanks to Valerie George, beauty chemist, and co-host of The Beauty Brains podcast for giving me extra perception for this publish!

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