The next time you’re at your local grocery store, take a walk down the beauty aisle and look at the ingredients on a face wash or cream. You will see a long list of words that you may or may not have seen before. One of those words might be siloxane.
I’ve talked about the ingredients you should avoid in your skincare products, however, I wanted to take a deeper dive into the 12 ingredients known as “The Dirty Dozen.” The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has identified 12 chemicals often found in many home, health, and beauty products that are harmful.
Today, I’m going to tell you all about siloxanes, which is basically any product that contains silicone.You likely have several products in your home that contain siloxane and not know it. Don’t worry! I’m going to tell you where siloxanes could be lurking in your home, why you should avoid siloxanes, and tell you about some of my favorite clean-alternatives. First, let’s discuss “The Dirty Dozen” chemicals and how our bodies are exposed to these toxins.
Your Body’s Toxic Burden
More than 12% of the ingredients in personal care products contain toxic chemicals such as carcinogens and pesticides. What’s more, the U.S. government approves 7 new industrial chemicals every day and 80% of them are approved within weeks with little or no testing.
According to the Environmental Working Group, there are approximately 12,500 ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S.. In the group’s 30-year history, the group has screened only 11% of those ingredients.1 This means that nearly 90% of the ingredients in your beauty products are not reviewed or tested for your safety.
Each exposure adds to your body’s toxic burden. Think of your body as a cup. With each toxin exposure, your cup gets a little fuller. The constant exposure puts the immune system on high alert and It begins attacking everything – including healthy tissue in your body.
I understand this can be overwhelming, however, there is a solution. You cannot fully avoid exposure to toxins. However, the best step is prevention and detoxification to reduce your toxic burden. I’m going to give you the tools to do just that later. Before I get into siloxanes, let’s quickly review “The Dirty Dozen.”
The Dirty Dozen: 12 Ingredients to Avoid
You are bombarded with environmental toxins every day. Not all the ingredients are good for you, even in some “healthy” products.
The (EWG) partnered in 2003 with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City to test the “body burden” of the average American. Out of 210 different substances tested, they found a total of 167 in the group with an average of 91 toxins in each person’s body, including industrial chemicals, heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), insecticides, dioxin, and benzene.2 Those numbers are deeply worrying.
More than 60% of what comes in contact with your skin is absorbed, including your beauty products. Unfortunately, as I’ve discussed, the beauty industry is not heavily regulated for safety. That means any ingredient a company wants to use can be put into your face wash, lotions, and creams. The EWG came up with a list of the dirty dozen.
Here’s a short overview of these ingredients.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate:
Typically found in shampoos and foam face washes. This ingredient is used to make products such as shampoo or face wash foam up. During manufacture, sodium laureth sulfate may get contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are known carcinogens.3
Parabens & Phthalates
These are common cosmetic preservatives. They are used in fragrances, yet you may not find it on the label. Parabens and phthalates are almost always together in products, which is why I put them together here. They can easily get into your skin and interfere with hormone production and mimic estrogen.
BHA & BHT
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in most face moisturizers. These are classified as human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. BHA & BHT also mimic estrogen and can lead to a hormone imbalance.
Coal Tar Dyes
Coal Tar Dyes are commonly found in cosmetics, personal care products such as deodorants and soaps, and food additives. They are made up of many chemicals derived from petroleum, a well-known crude oil used to make gasoline and plastics. Coal Tar Dyes are recognized as a human carcinogen.
Also known as Diethanolamine, DEA compounds are found in cosmetics and personal care products. They react with nitrates in cosmetics to form nitrosamines, which is classified as a carcinogen.
Many cosmetic companies still use this harmful chemical to extend the life of your skin care products. Formaldehyde may be off-gas from cosmetics containing these ingredients and be inhaled and absorbed by your skin, causing irritation to your skin, eyes, and lungs.
Fragrances are considered a trade secret and not required to be disclosed on a label of skin care products. Even products labeled “fragrance-free” or “unscented” likely contain fragrance with a masking agent. Many of these unlisted ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms.
Polyethylene glycol compounds are heavy-duty sterilizers that the federal agency the Environmental Protection Agency notes, “chronic, long-term exposure can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs, and damage to the nervous system” and evidence of being a human carcinogen.4
You likely know this as petroleum jelly. Petrolatum is mineral oil and used in skincare products to lock moisture in the skin. It’s in almost every moisturizer and hair product. The issue with this ingredient is that it can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This happens during the manufacturing process. Exposure can come from burning carbon-containing compounds, burning wood and fuel for homes, and even in foods such as coffee, barbecued meat, and sodas.
Because of its antibacterial properties, you can find triclosan in deodorants and hand sanitiser, yet it is also used in face washes, laundry detergent, and antiseptics for cuts and wounds. Tirclosan can get through your skin barrier and can interfere with natural hormone function.
That’s 11 of the 12 ingredients. Now, I’m going to talk in-depth about siloxanes, their risk, and how to avoid them.
What are Siloxanes?
Siloxanes are likely all over your home. They are used in building materials, water-repellents, baby nipples and pacifiers, your baking pans and utensils, deodorants, and moisturizers. Siloxanes, or silicone, are found in medical devices such as defibrillators, heart pumps, and surgical implants because they are biocompatible, biodurable (do not degrade over time), and are unlikely to cause allergic reactions the way latex can.
While the use of siloxanes offers convenience and durability, this toxic ingredient offers more risks than reward.
Risks of Siloxanes
The European Union classifies D4 siloxanes as a class 1 endocrine disruptor. That means it can cause hormone imbalance, which may lead to thyroid disease. It also attacks the immune system and could lead to autoimmune disease.
D5 siloxanes aren’t any better. This classification of siloxanes can cause uterine tumors and reproductive issues, possibly even leading to the inability to get pregnant.5 Siloxanes are also a carcinogen and can cause liver damage.6
D4 and D5 siloxanes are also bioaccumulative in fish tanks or fish farms that use silicone in their tanks or growing equipment. That means when a fish is exposed to siloxanes it stays in the body, even if they are eaten by another fish or a human.
The good news is that you can reduce your exposure to siloxanes.
How to Avoid Siloxanes
The easiest way to avoid the dangers of siloxanes is to pay attention to the label of common products that contain silicone such as baby products, cookware, water repellents, and beauty products. Here are the ways you can avoid siloxanes:
Read The Label
Siloxanes can have many names, so it’s important to know what to look for on the label. You can find siloxanes going by names such as cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane, or cyclomethicone.
Avoid Cookware Containing Siloxanes
If your cookware contains siloxanes, it can release a volatile organic compound into the air you breathe.7 Cookware with siloxanes can come in many forms. A good way to tell if your cookware has siloxanes in it is that it is flexible, temperature and water resistant. As an alternative, I recommend using nonreactive cast iron, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum. These materials can handle heat without releasing toxic compounds.
Use Non-Silicone Based Products
Baby nipples and bottles contain silicone, as do water-repellents for glass or your car windshield. Even water treatments for wood contain siloxanes. Look for non-silicone based products or ask a store clerk if they carry a non-silicone alternative.
Buy Clean Beauty Products
Siloxanes are in skincare products, moisturizers, hair products, deodorants, and sunscreens. Deodorants, antiperspirants, moisturizers and sunscreens are the most common products to contain siloxanes. There are more clean beauty products showing up on store shelves. This is good news. The even better news is that I have developed my own skincare line with beauty products that work without the toxic chemicals that can wreak havoc on your body.
The Clean Solution to Skincare
I spent years looking for clean skin care products without toxic ingredients and fragrances without any luck. I knew there had to be a better way. That’s why I developed Amy Myers MD® Beauty! This complete hydration routine contains four physician-formulated skincare products that nourish and protect your skin from the signs of aging.
Replenishing Vitamin C Cleanser
The first step is the Replenishing Vitamin C Cleanser. It has a carefully chosen blend of exotic oils and organic botanical extracts to purify, nourish, and revitalize your skin. I made sure to include pharmaceutical-grade vitamin C to combat the effects of sun exposure and cell damage that comes naturally with age.
Age-Defying Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Follow the mask with the Age-Defying Hyaluronic Acid Serum, featuring a potent concentration of hyaluronic acid, retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin E, and gotu kola extract. This serum dives beneath the surface to help skin cells retain long-lasting hydration and skin that looks and feels bouncy, dewy and beautiful.
Hydrating Ceramide Cream
The final step is the Hydrating Ceramide Cream. Ceramide is a waxy lipid in the skin’s outermost layer. These lipids are essential in maintaining the skin barrier. When you moisturize with ceramides, it soothes dryness, itchiness, and scaliness caused by a compromised skin barrier.
You can get all four products to nourish and protect your skin from the signs of aging in the Essential Beauty Kit. My promise to you is that these doctor-designed formulas never contain toxic ingredients and are rich in the purest forms of bioactive botanical ingredients so that you can get the healthy skin you deserve without sacrificing results.
Siloxanes are just one of the 12 toxic ingredients that could be lurking in your skincare products. The good news is that now you have the tools you need to know what to look for so you can reduce your body’s toxic burden and take back your health.
- Statement of Jane Houlihan on Cosmetics Safety. Environmental Working Group. 2008.
- Study: American Pesticide Levels Are High. Environmental Working Group. 2004.
- The Dirty Dozen: Sodium Laureth Sulfate . David Suzuki Foundation. 2021.
- Ethylene Oxide. Environmental Protection Agency. 2018.
- The Dirty Dozen: Siloxanes. David Suzuki Foundation. 2021.
- The Scoop on Siloxane. Meghan J. Force of Nature®. 2021.
- Siloxane in baking moulds, emission to indoor air and migration to food during baking with an electric oven. ScienceDirect. 2019.