Is Silica in Cosmetics Dangerous?

March 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm 9 comments

Lately, there’s been a controversy in the beauty world about whether or not silica is safe to be used in cosmetics. I am not interested in the personal problem between Coastal Scents and Erica, but the whole issue is causing an unnecessary scare. So, I decided to do some research on silica and here’s what I found out:

What is Silica?
Silica is a very common mineral on earth. It is used in cosmetics to make them adhere to skin and improve the smoothness and spread of foundations, creams and powders. It also absorbs oil, helping your makeup last longer.

Forms of Silica
Silica comes in several forms but this controversy is about two of them: crystalline silica and silica microspheres.
Silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhalation of silica dust, is caused by crystalline form silica when directly mined. So, unless you work in a mine, you’re not at risk. And as far as I know, miners do wear masks to protect themselves from inhaling this substance.
The type used in cosmetics, instead, has been processed and grounded into microspheres (round form of silica).

Differences between the two types of Silica
These two types of silica have a different chemical structure. Unlike crystalline silica, where the atoms are in a clear order, in silica microspeheres  they aren’t.
In addition, they aren’t processed in the same way, so they don’t come in contact with each other and the finished product won’t therefore be contaminated.

So, is Silica used in cosmetics safe?
Yes. The type of silica that causes health problem, crystalline silica, is a different chemical than silica microspheres, which is the safe form approved to be used in cosmetics. That means that any product that contains silica is safe to be used either alone or with other powders. So, unless you’re allergic to silica, you can keep using it without problems.

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9 Comments

  • 1. nikki  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    *whew* thanks for the great informative post, I’ve been wondering about that but always get sidetracked with the Coastal Scents problem , the owner and a buyer !

  • […] po­st­ed h­er­e: I­s Si­li­c­a i­n­­ C­osmet­i­c­s Dan­&#… Share and […]

  • 3. Dao  |  March 3, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Silica allergy is very rare and without it, makeup will not be the same.

  • 4. Jnie  |  March 3, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Great post. That whole issue has gotten ridiculously huge.

  • 5. beautifulwithbrains  |  March 4, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Nikki: you’re welcome. I guess lots of poeple that know about the controversy tend to take sides and forget about the actual cause of the problem, ie whether silica is dangerous or not. I know I got a bit sidetracked at first too, but now the whole thing has gotten blown up of all proportions, it’s ridiculous.

    Dao: Silica is one of the top oil absorbes and really improves the staying power of their cosmetics as well as their smoothness and spread. The only rason not to use it is if you’re allergic to it, but like you pointed out, that’s a rare case.

    Jnie: thanks. I couldn’t agree more, things have completely been blown out of all proportions *sighs*

  • 6. Aida  |  March 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    What are the allergic reactions?

    I usually don’t use cosmetics, but decided to use Regenerist contour and lift at-home treatment, which contains silica.

    Within a couple of hours my heart started racing. May be a coincidence.

    What do you think?

  • 7. beautifulwithbrains  |  March 6, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Well, symptoms of allergic reactions are usually rashes, redness, breakouts and irritation. Silica can cause nausea but only if inhaled or ingested. I highly doubt silica in cosmetics can make your head spin, it’s probably just a coincidence. I would recommend consulting your physician. He/she will be able to tell the actual cause of your symtoms.

  • 8. Stephanie  |  April 18, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    My son is six months old and I’m still breastfeeding him. Is it still OK to use this product..

  • 9. beautifulwithbrains  |  April 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Stephanie,
    using silica cosmetics while breastfeeding should be ok, but I highly recommend you consult your physican before doing so.


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