Super versatile ingredients used very commonly in skin and hair care products. They are actually nothing new: ancient Egyptians already converted sand (sand is a silica and silicones come from silica) into glass using essentially "silicone technology" in 3000 BCE.
As for skincare, silicones are used mainly because they are incredibly slippery. Even a small amount of them can take an average formula to a whole new luxurious level.
As for hair care, silicones provide slip and shine and make the hair smooth like no other thing.
The problem with silicones is that... well, there is not really a problem with them. They are often bad-mouthed by the natural personal care industry, but the claims are not really true. Let's see the three most common ones:
- Silicones suffocate skin: Skin does not breath so this is hard to understand in the first place. But even if skin breathed, it could with silicones on top of it. As they have large molecules with plenty of space between them, putting a plastic bag all over your face is not the right metaphor. Putting a fish-net all over your face is a better one.
- Silicones cause or worsen acne: That one is not true either. What's more, research rather shows that silicones can help to make drying and irritating anti-acne ingredients more tolerable.
- Silicones build up on your hair and ruin it: it's true that some silicones cling onto the hair more than others, but there are many very light, volatile types that do not build up at all. The heaviest one used in hair care is dimethicone. That one smoothes the hair very well but can be a bit more difficult to wash out. If you feel you have a "build-up" problem, avoiding silicones altogether is still an overkill. Choosing products without dimethicone will probably solve your problem.
Well, that's pretty much the gist of silicones. If you wanna read more about them, we really like this XoVain article
and this Paula's Choice explanation
. Also, you can click the list below to read about the different types.