When I wrote part 1 of this post, I had no idea how pervasive this lovely silicone was in cosmetics and skin care. It is in everything. EVERYTHING. Or at least, every product that I have been totally into recently. (This definitely leads me to suspect that dimethicone could be the insidious culprit in my stubborn little case of perioral dermatitis, but more on that later.) If it makes my skin baby-butt soft and silky smooth, if it makes my hair shiny and well-behaved, if it keeps my once-in-awhile tinted sunscreen and concealer from clumping and settling into spidery lines on my face, then it has dimethicone or a related chemical in the silicone family. Ten years ago this would not have been a huge issue, but approaching 40 means my skin could use a tad bit of help. And this chemical situation is not helping.
Before delving any further into both this topic and my vanity-induced depression, it should be made clear that according to studies, dimethicone not shown to be particularly harmful. However, there are some dermatologists who claim that dimethicone and other emollients can cause/aggravate acne and dermatitis in certain individuals. And anecdotal evidence from sufferers abounds. So, I suppose if you are one of those people with gorgeous skin (who, by the way, don’t really need silicone-laden products in the first place), by all means, keep on slathering. But if you have some persistent and annoying/terrifying/demoralizing skin issues (like me at the moment), the role of dimethicone in your misery could be worth closer examination.
In a nutshell, dimethicone makes miracle products because they act like a mesh barrier over the skin, creating a smooth and even surface for products to do their thing. Some people claim this is where the problem lies (although this claim is contested). Dirt and sebum and bacteria get caught underneath this silicone layer and start to cause mischief. Allergies, acne and irritation from dimethicone and emollients in general also seem to be a potential culprit.
Since the perioral dermatitis showed up three months ago, I have avoided almost all cosmetic and skin care products. I wash once a day with a tiny bit of Dr. Bronner’s and use Burt’s Bees Renewal Firming Lotion (which is basically nothing more than a mineral-based sunscreen) as needed for sun protection. While the situation has definitely improved, it’s never completely cleared, although there are bad days and better days. I began suspecting dimethicone after I had a particularly nasty break out after a couple days of wearing a tinted sunscreen (MyBody Protect & Serve, which is AMAZING, but loaded with silicones). I broke the no-cosmetics rule because all three times were special occasions that happened to occur within one week. After a week back on my cosmetics diet, the break out completely cleared and my skin looked better than it had since the beginning. It stayed this way for several days—until I made a mistake and used my beloved Cerave Renewal Cream Serum to hydrate my skin a bit. The next day, the little red spots I thought I had won the battle against got a second wind. The common ingredients in both these products: cyclopetrasiloxane and dimethicone. A cursory look at the rest of the products I had hoped to go back to using one day revealed a minefield of silicones. My Beach Hair Sea-salt Spray: dimethicone. It’s a Ten Leave-in Miracle Product: dimethicone. Neutrogena Anti-Aging Defense Dry Touch sunscreen: dimethicone. Coppertone spray-on sunscreen: dimethicone. (It should be noted that these products also harbor many other not-so-nice ingredients like parabens and chemical sunblockers, so they were on the way out anyway.)
I suppose I cannot be 100% certain silicone is the culprit in my form of skin rash–there’s always coincidence. (And it should be noted that sometimes dimethicone is considered a treatment for sensitive skin disorders.) But everyone’s skin is different. So I will be conducting another experiment with the dimethicone at some point. On one hand, I hope I am wrong, because finding dimethicone-free make-up that stays even and smooth and will not break the bank is apparently a futile pursuit. On the other hand, if it is the dimethicone, at least I will have my clear skin back.
*All links provided in this post are for readers’ subjective consideration only and have not necessarily been thoroughly researched for their scientific robustness or credibility.*