We are in the midst of a clean beauty revolution, as consumers seek transparency and authenticity from their favourite brands, we think it's time to rummage around and see what's really in our beauty bags and in the products we love.

Unwrapping the beauty industry, we are still revealing more layers of plastic hidden within the ingredients list. Plastic in beauty has been the hot topic, from microplastics to waste; plastic has been on the industry's radar. Yet as beauty is swathed in plastic, we are only beginning to discover how far plastic goes in this industry. Pay attention to silicone; this is the latest and lesser-known plastic problem in beauty. Silicone may bring up misconceptions of breast implants or fillers, but don't be fooled this synthetic ingredient can be found from our haircare to our lipsticks. As of February 2020, the EU banned D4 and D5 silicones, commonly found in wash-off products, because they negatively impact the environment and our skin. Silicones seem to be the ugly side of beauty. 

In cosmetics, silicones are prevalent across all products, from shampoos to creams, lipsticks and foundations, you will find them on any shop counter. They create the silky-smooth, supple sensation that captures our attention, leaving hair glossy and lips moisturised. Silicones can act as different functions within products, such as an emollient, seen in conditioners, which softens hair, or as emulsifiers, helping to combine and stabilise the ingredients. Silicones also act as thickening agents and help retain moisture. They are a basic beauty ingredient and the solution for our slick and smooth makeup and application, unfortunately, they also litter our products with ever more plastic.

Silicones are easy to find on your ingredients list, they tend to end in '-siloxane', 'silanes' or '-cone'. A common silicone is Dimethicone, a silicone oil that functions as a conditioning agent. Yet they are not as squeaky-clean as consumers are led to believe. Silicones have a semi-occlusive effect, potentially causing unwanted outbreaks as it smothers the skin. "As silicone is a man-made polymer, it is essentially a layer of 'plastic' that smooths onto the surface of our skin. It may look good and work well, but it does nothing to enhance our skin-health," says Sjaniël Turrell, holistic makeup artist and nutritional therapist.  

While we smear our skin in silicone products, we are essentially dripping in plastic. While there is no substantial evidence to suggest a danger to the skin, the thought of our faces coated in a plastic layer may deter us from this synthetic beauty must-have. Especially since the cosmetic industry will only source cheap silicone for our products, making us question just how toxic beauty can be. 

Worryingly the FDA has banned the use of silicone implants and has warned against silicone fillers due to their potential and very harmful risk to the body. We are seeing doctors rush to remove silicone from patients, because of potential toxic effects on our cells and organs. And while a major concern of contamination from silicone is through ingestion, we are still allowed to swipe on our silicone-lipsticks. Even worse, the FDA has now linked silicone exposure to autoimmune conditions and symptoms, ranging from blood clots to hair loss!  As it's estimated we consume up to seven pounds of lipstick in our lifetime, it's a worry that only now the EU is starting to challenge the silicone industry. 

As we continue to unwrap the story of silicone, we can see the impacts go much further than our skin. 

The research emerging suggests that the risks silicones pose on the environment could be huge. As silicones are very stable molecules, they can take an estimated 400-500 years to decompose. Even more so, since silicones repel water, it means for centuries they'll be floating in our oceans. As silicones linger in the environment, they can leach toxins which impact marine life. "[Silicones] seldom biodegrade in nature. Considering there is so much of it in our beauty products, this synthetic material is being washed down the drains of millions of showers every day, ending up in our oceans. There is nothing ethical or sustainable about that" follows Turrell. 

As we seek to shed this plastic layer, it can seem near impossible to find products silicone-free. At HIGHR we agree that if you make one clean swap, it should be your lipstick. As we potentially ingest so much, and with the possibility of affecting our health and environment, we think it's safe to say, it's time to swap to a silicone-free lipstick. 

At HIGHR, we have removed silicones and created a coconut oil derivative, which mimics silicones qualities without any of the nasty chemicals.  We believe makeup should support the health of our skin, nourish and protect. Beauty shouldn't cost the planet nor your health and well-being. At HIGHR, we've created lipsticks that enhance your natural beauty rather than cover it in plastic. 

This is lipstick redone, with the planet and you in mind.  

- Esme Bourne


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