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The Benefits of Using a Silicone-Free Foundation

Silicones make skin feel silky smooth – but at what cost?

Written by: 100% PURE ®


Is your skin breaking out, or looking more dull than usual? Your most trusted everyday products could be to blame, with ingredients that aren’t doing skin any favors. If your makeup is giving you an adverse reaction, it’s a good idea to comb through the ingredient list and look for one in particular: silicone.

Silicones are synthetic derivatives of silica, a natural ingredient found in sand and different types of rocks. While silicones boast a number of benefits (especially for texture) in makeup, skin care, and hair care, they can be problematic for both your skin and the environment.

Foundation is often one of the first and most important steps in your makeup routine – and can often contain silicone. Silicone-free foundations and primers are able to hydrate and nourish skin properly, unlike foundations with silicone.

Let’s find out why silicone may be causing your skin problems — and why silicone-free is the way to go!

The Role of Silicones in Makeup and More

Silicones can be found in pretty much any beauty product: shampoos, foundations, and moisturizers tend to be top silicone offenders. Silicone helps make formulas softer and smoother when applied, making these products feel super silky on the skin. This same property is why silicone-based shampoos make it easier for you to brush through your hair after washing.

Foundation often contains silicone to help smooth and fill fine lines on the surface of your skin. Silicones prevent foundation from settling into any creases, instead blurring wrinkles and creating a polished facial landscape.

Silicones create a breathable barrier of sorts over the skin – this film can protect your skin from environmental stressors while sealing in hydration. They’re great at absorbing sebum, which can help control oily shine. Silicone is very stable on its own as well, meaning that it doesn’t need any preservatives. In fact, it doesn’t react to other ingredients, air, or light.

Primer moisturizer texture
The Downside of Silicone for Skin

While silicones might seem beneficial to your cosmetic efforts, these advantages have a flip side. While they absorb sebum well, there’s a risk they might over-absorb your natural oils and in turn, over-dry your skin. Those with dry skin may find that this can lead to flaky skin after applying silicone-heavy foundation.

Silicones’ protective film can layer and accumulate, too; this film can be hard to clean off because silicones repel water. While this property is great for water-resistant products, it’s not so great when you finally have to take your makeup off.

If you don’t double cleanse your skin and use silicone-heavy products regularly, you might notice pilling – rolling and flaking of product on the skin – over time. Pilling is the result of too many of these layers accumulating. This isn’t great for everyday makeup application, especially if you layer multiple face products.

This accumulation of silicones is especially harmful if you have acne-prone or oily skin, which is more prone to clogging. These silicone layers can keep dirt and oil trapped on your skin over time, which eventually lead to comedones.

Even if you’re not blemish-prone, you might notice your skin turns out dry and dehydrated from clogged pores. Another side effect of this build-up is slower cell regeneration as it can harm this regulating process. The dead cells that aren’t being shed may clog pores and lead to breakouts or bumps on your skin.

Not all forms of silicone biodegrade easily, either. While they’ve been deemed safe for human health, they can build up in the environment (a process known as bioaccumulation). And while some forms are more biodegradable, it’s not known whether they will break down in waterways, where cosmetics often end up when we rinse them off.

Silicone-Free Foundation: the Skin-Healthy Alternative

Alternatively, the natural oils and plant-based ingredients functioning in a silicone-free foundation will contain many more benefits for skin. These include antioxidants, moisturizing properties, and anti-aging benefits. These effects last long after your makeup has been washed off – which is way more than you can say for silicones!

The solution to protecting your face and the environment is using a combination of silicone-free foundation and primer instead. You can get the same smoothing and filling effects from these silicone-free products, particularly with ingredients like sea kelp.

  • Luminous Primer
    This silicone-free primer uses antioxidants like Vitamin E and green tea, and contains aloe and jojoba seed oil for enhanced hydration. Natural oils and rice starch take the place of silicones to help blur complexion and pores. This primer is great if you’re looking for a radiant look — and its humectants can help moisturize dry skin.

    To build your dewy skin look, choose a water-based, silicone-free foundation, tinted moisturizer, or BB cream, depending on the level of coverage you want.

  • Mattifying Primer
    If you have oily or acne-prone skin and need some more oil absorption, our best-selling matte primer could be the one for you! It contains gentle glycerin and ultra-light squalane to prevent your skin from drying out, while eucalyptus and tea tree keep acne at bay. Instead of silicone, seaweed collagen is an allstar alternative that plumps your skin and helps fill in those fine lines.

    For full coverage, choose a silicone-free foundation with rice starch to not only minimize pores and creases, but absorb excess oil as well. For medium or full coverage, choose a silicone-free foundation with bamboo silica and natural oils to help strengthen skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

PRO TIP: We use silica – the natural ingredient that silicone is derived from – in some of our makeup formulas. Note that this is a far different ingredient than silicone, and doesn’t have the same adverse effects for your skin.

Lesson learned: a silicone-free foundation can work just as well (and even better) than its silicone-heavy counterpart. If you find yourself struggling with dull or dry skin, especially after applying foundation – or simply want an eco-friendly version – this natural alternative might be the answer to your concerns. For a guide on how to use our silicone-free foundations, check out 5 Pro Tips for Applying Foundation!

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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