Silica Is Everywhere You Look

Silica Is Everywhere You Look

The Purist / Chemical Index /

It’s safe to say that Silica is more common than Starbucks franchises. The stuff is literally everywhere!

But what is silica exactly? If it’s so commonly used in various products, it can’t be that bad if used in beauty products… right?

I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader, to decide. But first, let’s start off with a few basic facts about silica:

1. Silica occurs in nature in several different forms and is a mineral that can be found via quartz, flint, sand, sandstone and even in plants! However, it can also be artificially manufactured.

2. Silica is commonly used in many industries, not just used in beauty items. The compound is used as a food additive for things like fluid thickness (viscosity), making beverages more clear and controlling the texture of dough; as well in more solid and structural applications like cement and glass production.

For myself, I rank the toxicity risk of silica to be very low. In fact, my favourite setting powder by RMS Beauty lists silica as it’s only ingredient. (And it works like a dream.) The Environmental Working Group (EWG) ranks silica as a very low concern, unless it’s Quartz derived and also in an aerosol. And although it’s not always safe to assume that a compound added to food automatically makes it safe to apply to your skin, in this case I would say that it’s a good indicator that silica would have little impact on your health.

So what the deal with many health and “green” gurus stating that silica is something to watch out for?

I think it’s wise to question the contents of a product before you use it; no doubt about that! However, sometimes in the natural beauty industry, in an effort to be as pure and safe as possible, we go a little too far. Or we make statements that are too broad or perhaps even mis-informed.

I think it’s safe to say that silica gets a bad rep by being lumped in with other “scary sounding” compounds that are a bit “iffy.” But I don’t believe it’s nearly as concerning as say, aluminum or talc. Silica is often naturally derived and not difficult for your body to interact with, should it need to break it down or flush it from your system. Most people with sensitive skin prone to allergic reaction or rashes should be fine applying silica-based products to their skin.

Personally I have very sensitive skin and I break out from a number of things (stress, hormones, dairy, strong chemicals etc.) however I can personally say I’ve never had a bad reaction to silica-based beauty products. Unlike heavy liquid beauty products, powdery silica-based formulas seem to “play nice” with my skin and have never caused an angry pimple to this day. Hurray!

Photo by Christopher Campbell