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* Also known as Silicon Dioxide
* Please read TIA's post on What Is It: Silicones and Should We Avoid Them
Silica is a mineral found naturally in sandstone, clay, and granite, as well as in parts of plants and animals, and is used as a versatile ingredient in the cosmetics and skin care industry because of its ability to serve as a an abrasive, anticaking agent, bulking agent, opacifying agent and suspending agent. However, it is most often seen as an absorbant, because of its ability to absorb moisture and sweat, according to CosmeticsCop.com and CosmeticsInfo.org. Silica is seen in many make up formulas because its spherical particles not only absorb sweat and oil, but prevent light reflection, and improve spreadability. Silica is also used as an ingredient in powder perfume because the porous spheres can deliver fragrance over a long period of time (ChemistryQuestion.com).
According to CosmeticsInfo.org, "The Silica used in cosmetics and personal care products is in the amorphous form. This means that there is no clear order to the arrangement of the atoms, unlike crystalline silica, which has a clear order to the arrangement of the atoms."
Silica is FDA approved for use as an anticaking agent and for other uses in food, and Silica as silica aerogel is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in food as an anti-foaming agent.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
The Cosmetics Database finds that Silica can be considered a low to high hazard ingredient, depending upon its usage, and bases this conclusion on the distinction between amorphous and crystalline Silica. Amorphous silica is considered safe for use in cosmetics, and generally non-carcinogenic, while crystalline Silica is 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. Ultimately, the Cosmetics Database concludes that "Silica is the most common constituent of sand. Fine silica, typically used in industrial applications and inhaled by workers, is associated with a wide range of disorders. In cosmetics for skin use, regular sand presents little, if any risk to people. Because the particles might be finely ground down for use in a product that might be inhaled (such as a facial powder), the inhalation scores reflect the underlying data."
The FDA has recognized the distinction between the two types of Silica as well, and finds amorphous Silica safe for use in food and cosmetics. A study published in the journal Occupational Hygiene entitled "Health hazards due to the inhalation of amorphous silica" found that the major problem concern with amorphous Silica is the potential contamination with crystalline Silica; however, intentionally manufactured synthetic amorphous Silicas are without contamination of crystalline Silica (including cosmetics, which use synthetic amorphous Silica). It was found that animal inhalation studies using synthetic Silica still resulted in "at least partially reversible inflammation, granuloma formation and emphysema, but no progressive fibrosis of the lungs," and four cases of silicosis, but not any carcinogenic effects.
Ultimately, studies have shown that crystalline Silica can be carcinogenic, as well as cause inflammation, irritation, toxicity, and other negative health effects. The amorphous, synthetic Silica used in cosmetics and other personal care products does not contain crystalline Silica, and is generally considered safe for use.
Recommended Products w/ Silica:
The Body Shop Moringa Body Scrub, Dermophisiologique Optyma 24 Hour Eye Contour Cream, Bliss An Ounce of Prevention AM SPF 15, Revolution Organics Freedom Gloss, Earthly Delights Tropical Rain Shampoo, La Bella Donna Baci Baci Moisturizing Lip Color, Ecco Bella Liquid Foundation, Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder, DuWop Shadowlift Liquid Eyeshadow, Redpoint Age Management Essentials, IQ Derma Essentials ResorEyes Firming Eye Cream