Type of Ingredient: Silicon dioxide, also known as silica is an abrasive, anti-caking agent, bulking agent, opacifying agent and suspending agent.
Main Benefits: Improves the texture and lubricity of products but does not have any skin benefits.
Who Should Use It: Cosmetic manufacturers use it in different products such as sunscreen and hair products.
Ideal For These Concerns:
Silica is found in many make up formulas because of its spherical particles that not only absorb sweat and oil, but prevent light reflection, and enhance spreadability.
Silica is also used as an ingredient in powder perfume because the porous spheres can deliver fragrance over a long period of time.
How Often Can You Use It: You can use it daily
What is Silica?
Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, silicic acid or silicic acid anydride is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2, most commonly found in nature as quartz. Silica has many industrial applications, it can be used as an additive, to clarify beverages, control viscosity, as an anti-foaming agent, or as a bulking agent in medications and vitamins.
Silica size effects it’s health impact.
- Crystalline silica, finely divided silica with a crystaline structure, is toxic and can lead to severe inflammation of the lung tissue, silicosis, bronchitis, lung cancer, and systemic autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Crystalline silica is created in masonry factories for quartz, sand, and stone. Crystalline silica is not used in cosmetics or personal care products of any kind.
- Hydrated silica is silic with water and has a chemical formula of SiO2nH2O where n represents the number of water molecules. The primary use for hydrated silica is in toothpaste since it is mildly irritating, which helps to clean teeth.
- Amorphous silica has an amorphous structure, is an absorbent white powder that gently cleanses and polishes, as well as a thickening agent used in makeup to prevent caking. It is most often used in cosmetics and skincare products.
The Benefits of Silica
Silica has several different functions in cosmetic and personal care products, including as an abrasive in body scrubs, an absorbent powder, anticaking agent, bulking agent, opacifying agent, and suspending agent. It provides a luxurious, smooth feel and improves spreadability in loose and pressed powder products. As a carrier material, the particles can hold perfumes and active ingredients together by adsorption. Adsorption is the process in which atoms, ions or molecules from a substance (it could be gas, liquid or dissolved solid) adhere to a surface of the adsorbent.
It is most commonly used as an absorbent because of its ability to absorb excess moisture and oil from the surface of the skin. However, some people find that silica can absorb too much moisture and/or oil, leaving skin feeling dry.
Silica is also a gentle abrasive that is often used in exfoliating skin care products, such as body and face scrubs. After President Obama signed a bill that banned the manufacture and distribution of products containing plastic microbeads, manufacturers turned to silica as an alternative.
Silica is also widely used in personal care products, it is put in toothpaste as a polishing agent to remove plaque, but its properties tend to lend themselves well towards makeup where it's used to help evenly distribute a product across the skin. When applied to the hair, silica helps smooth and flatten the hair cuticles which promotes shine as they better reflect the light.
As mentioned above, the safety of silica depends on the form. Crystalline silica has been linked to a variety of health hazards, including cancer, allergies, and organ system toxicity. Crystalline silica is a known respiratory, musculoskeletal, and immune system toxicant, and there has been strong evidence of cancer caused by products that may be aerosolized.
Amorphous silica and hydrated silica do not have these same health hazards. The FDA has recognized the distinction between the types of silica and finds both amorphous and hydrated silica safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products.
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