February 16, 2023
Silicone, or silicon-dioxide (SiO₂), is one of the quickest growing trends in skincare and has long been used as a treatment for scars. But what is it, and how does it work?
Silicone is derived from the combination of silicon and oxygen, two of the most abundant natural elements on earth. When bonded, this compound is responsible for much of the collagen production we receive.
The body's collagen synthesis deteriorates over time. In other words, the ability to self-regulate skin damage is exhausted more and more with each passing year- 2% a year (starting in your 20s) to be precise.
By introducing Silicone into a daily routine one can repair and preserve healthy skin.
In general, silicone benefits skin in two ways: it increases collagen production and decreases inflammation. In skin and wound care, silicone is often used as either silica dioxide or as hydrated silica. Hydrated silica has additional water atoms bound to silicone.
silicone works by strengthening the skin’s structural connective tissue, a prerequisite for rebuilding healthy skin after any severity of damage. Silicone provides two key proteins that make this possible- collagen and elastin. Collagen gives the skin fullness and shape while elastin provides plump, tight skin and improves resilience.
While the skin naturally cycles through dead and damaged cells to promote regeneration with or without added silicone, this process is highly dependent on the collagen the body is able to produce. While this entire process doesn’t happen overnight, depending on the type of damage, new cells can form and begin to take shape in as little as one month of use.
Silicone benefits skin health by increasing hydration in the skin, decreasing inflammation and mimicking the properties of healthy skin. This expedites the body’s natural healing process. Silicone works by strengthening the collagen and protein molecules, called glycosaminoglycans, in the skin that are responsible for the body’s ability to retain moisture. Additionally, silicone increases the production of orthosilicic acid that stimulates collagen and the production of healthy skin.
Introducing silicone based skincare products into a daily skincare routine can provide immense benefits to any user regardless of skin type, age or gender. By improving collagen synthesis, silicone can improve both the physical appearance and texture of tissue following extended, consistent use.
These benefits include:
silicone is a natural anti-inflammatory that is often used to decrease redness, swelling and irritation. While it will not address the underlying causes of chronic conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, it is often an effective treatment option to temporarily relieve many of these same associated symptoms.
silicone contains unique properties that acts as a booster to many topical skincare products you may already own and use. Products such as anti-aging creams, peels, vitamin c treatments, and antioxidants will likely see improved effectiveness when combined with a regimen featuring silicone.
Silicone promotes wound and scar repair in two ways.
First, silicone protects the wound bed from bacterial infection. Often when a wound scabs and fully closes it can trigger a drop in water retention leading to dehydration. Silicone combats this by regulating water loss and pulling in moisture from the wound’s surrounding atmosphere to keep a moisturized, healthy environment.
This is important because dehydration triggers the outer layer of skin (stratum corneum) to produce cytokines, signaling fibroblasts to produce excess amounts of collagen. Excess collagen leads to the formation of many types of scars including raised hypertrophic and keloid scars.
The second way silicone promotes repair is through the stimulation of new, healthy connective tissue growth. After a wound has fully closed, silicone is able to take effect regulating collagen levels while teaching the body how to optimally replace traumatized cells. This allows for the complete decomposition of surplus collagen and restores the balance between fibrogenesis and fibrolysis.
During this time, silicone moderates blood vessels to the scar sight, reducing the dark color and appearance of healing wounds.
In short, silicone allows the skin to breathe, resulting in a softer, flatter scar. Additionally, silicone helps mimic the skin’s natural moisture barrier and trap moisture that the body naturally loses against the skin surface creating conditions for healthy skin.
Over time, silicone is able to vastly reduce the visual appearance and flatten the texture of damaged and scarred skin, replacing it with new, healthy tissue. While most effective when used with new scar tissue, silicone is capable of improving the appearance of scars more than a decade old.
Silicone can be used with almost any type of scar, including:
For more than 30 years, silicone has been studied as a premier treatment in scar repair. While silicone is being increasingly used in skincare products it is most often applied either as a sheet or gel.
Silicone sheeting contains four primary functions: hydrating the skin, protecting wounds against harmful elements, regulating collagen production, and reducing itching.
Silicone Gel is a relatively new treatment for hypertrophic scars and keloid scars. When applied correctly, silicone gel dries to form a thin, invisible layer over the skin which works to repair the wound 24 hours a day.
Recently, silicone supplements have become an increasingly popular approach to promoting skin health from the inside-out. While many argue its efficacy versus a traditional transdermal silicone application, ingested silicone is undeniably beneficial in assisting the transport of oxygen and other important nutrients to the skin.
The safety of silicone has been evaluated by both the FDA and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) expert panel. The FDA has determined that silicone is generally safe. Based on available data the CIR expert panel determined that silicone, and hydrated silica were safe to be used in cosmetic and personal care products. Cosmetic regulations in the European Union agree with these standards.
As always, consult with your dermatologist or doctor before beginning any new skincare regimen, especially if you have sensitive skin or experience any side effects.
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