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Silicones in the Crosshairs

By: Steve Herman
Posted: April 4, 2012, from the April 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 3 of 3

Few commercial beauty products prominently claim to be silicone-free. Makeup, particularly face primers, seem to be an exception—with Korres Face Primer, Exuberance’s Helichrysum Silicone-Free Makeup Primer and Tarte’s ReCreate Silicone-Free Primer as notable examples making silicone-free claims.

An Outlook

A positive sign for the current status of silicones is that they do not appear on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics list of “Chemicals of Concern.” The biggest difference between the silicone issue and phthalates, another ingredient type under heavy regulatory and NGO scrutiny, is that silicones are an environmental concern rather than a human health one. It is also clear that, despite the claims of non-industry special interest groups, the beauty industry and regulators actively investigate both human and environmental issues far more intensively than consumers or activists realize. The official industry response regarding silicones is coordinated by Silicones Environmental, Health & Safety Council of North America5 and the European Silicones Centre.6

It is unlikely that silicones will ever become a lightning rod for conspiracy theories like diethyl phthalate and parabens have. The issues will probably be solved through rational analysis of the science by national regulatory agencies, and there, the science is very positive for confirming the human safety of cyclic silicones. There will be some minor push back from a few consumer companies but the cyclic silicones are far too valuable to be broadly eliminated simply as a precautionary step.

For additional reading on silicones and other ingredient types in the crosshairs, read “Controversial Ingredients: One Brand’s Perspective,” published by GCI in December 2011.


  1. (Accessed Feb 20, 2012)
  2. (Accessed Feb 20, 2012)
  3. C Stevens, Environmental fate and effects of dimethicone and cyclotetrasiloxane from personal care applications,Int J Cosm Sci, 20, 297–305 (1998)
  4. J Lambert, Silicone Safety in the Cosmetic Industry, Cosm Toil, Nov 2011
  5. (Accessed Feb 20, 2012)
  6. (Accessed Feb 20, 2012)