Disclaimer: This blog post is my understanding, as a beauty brand founder who is not a scientist, writing on the subject of organic fluorine and PFAS as it relates to our cosmetic business, to this day.
Dimethicone Environmental Impact:
When dimethicone began being used in clean beauty and so many jumped on the bandwagon, my heart sank - I brought studies to scientists, paid them to explain why at the end of every study there was some sort of statement that seemed to almost deny everything that came before - I asked them would they sign off on the environmental safety of this ingredient, according to the studies I had presented them, each time the answer was no.
There are still many people who believe that siloxanes are perfectly fine for our environment however now that we have PFAS, the issue that has arisen is that they are highly correlated with each other. According to the Green Science Policy Institute In the EU the list below includes PFAS present in products using their Clearya's Database.
Then came all the plastic - super well styled - loads of money dropped - well done - unless you factored in the environment and that's the problem with venture capital money - but that's for another day.
The production and use of Dimethicone and also silicones carry several environmental implications that warrant attention.
Production and Pollution - Since 2008 we have been aware that the chemical engineering process required to produce synthetic substances can negatively affect the environment. This process may involve the use of harmful chemicals and generate waste, thereby contributing to pollution and other environmental problems. Manufacturing plants are required to follow strict guidelines and waste management practices to minimize the impact of production on the surrounding environment – is this worth it?
Non-Biodegradability : Dimethicone is non-biodegradable, meaning it does not naturally decompose in the environment. It can degrade over a long time however it interacts with the environment whilst doing so. This property can result in long-term accumulation, posing a threat to ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them. As the substance persists in the environment, it can contaminate soil and water sources, leading to potential harm to plants, animals, and humans. Correlated with PFAS, non- biodegrading or even slow biodegration is even more alarming.
Waterway Contamination: When products containing dimethicone are washed down the drain, they can enter waterways and disrupt aquatic life. The non-biodegradable nature of this ingredient means that, as it does in the earth, can accumulate in water systems, potentially impacting the balance of aquatic ecosystems.
This accumulation can lead to changes in water quality and may pose risks to the health and well-being of marine life. Dimethicone can bioaccumulate, particularly in aquatic organisms.
Bioaccumulation occurs when an organism absorbs a substance at a faster rate than it can eliminate, leading to a buildup of the substance in the organism's tissues. Over time, this accumulation can adversely affect the health of the organism and the overall ecosystem.
The Food Chain:
This issue extends to you and me - as substances that bioaccumulate move up the food chain they ultimately impact humans as our food chain is affected and the circle is whole. Humans are part of of the food chain - we are all one, connected on every level so we need to go forward as one.
Tested on animals:
Less and less of the ingredients we use today are tested on animals and Canada has just banned this practice, The EU did so in 2004. Dimethicone, and to be fair, many ingredients, have a long history of being tested on animals, however while researching it's environmental impact, we learned of it's history and that is one of the reasons why SAPPHO has never used it.
Clean, Conscious, Vegan:
It is possible to make up with the least amount of damage to our world. We love to adorn ourselves - it feeds our emotions, brings us joy - we do not have to do it in spite of ourselves... we can use products that are designed for life.