According to “The Dirty Dozen – Cosmetics Chemicals to Avoid” – cyclomethicone (silicone) “may interfere with hormone function and damage the liver.”
Quoting a 2008 joint study by Environment Canada and Health Canada the claims of toxicity are oversimplified.
According to the Environment/Health Canada Study:
1. Cyclomethicone can have harmful effects on “sensitive pelagic aquatic organisms” but “while [cyclomethicone] has the potential to accumulate in biota, it is not possible to conclude at this time that [cyclomethicone] meets the criterion for bioaccumulation” In plain English: it is inappropriate to extrapolate the findings as an interpretation of health risk for higher life forms.
2. After extensive research “it is concluded that [cyclomethicone] is not entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.”
3. All health risk analysis was based on absorption of 12% of the cyclomethicone applied and a 14 day, double blind human trial of oral dose cyclomethicone “did not show any immunotoxic effect”.
Simply put, according to the very study quoted to support the health risk claims, consumer cosmetics, containing cyclomethicone, pose no health risk. In fact the study clearly states:
1. “The critical effect level for repeated-dose toxicity is considered to be 100 mg/kg-bw/day”. For a 50kg person that would be 5000mg absorbed each day. The equivalent of 5 full of pressed powder per day.
2. “It is not possible to conclude that [cyclomethicone] meets the criterion for bioaccumulation”. A human cannot absorb enough cyclomethicone through cosmetics to created the levels that can cause adverse health risks.
3. “Based on validated studies in human skin, the upper limit of dermal absorption is 0.94%”. Less than 8% of the dose where adverse health risks started occurring.
Lastly, according to The Journal of Wound Care, (July 2000 pages 319-24) cyclomethicone heals skin and reduces scar tissue.
As much as I get frustrated at how cosmetics companies use manufactured science and exaggerated claims to sell over priced products I also get frustrated when special interest groups use half-truths and poorly applied conjecture to frighten consumers.
Recently I was emailed a report called “The Dirty Dozen – Cosmetics Chemicals to Avoid” – a so-called list of cancer causing ingredients found in everyday cosmetics. This report made many generalizations that are not supported by scientific research.
BHT - Butylated hydroxytoluene. Found in most moisturizer and used as an antioxidant and preservative. The report states, “May cause cancer and interfere with hormone functions”: quoting studies from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) and the European Commission of Endocrine Disruptors (part of the EU Environment Commission). Notice the caveat “may” used in the language. The report fails to mention that all studies showing BHT to have adverse health effects are based on:
1. Ingesting BHT orally
2. Ingesting concentrations above 0.1%
3. Only studied when BHT was absorbed by the blood stream
In cosmetics BHT:
1. Is used in products labeled “for external use only”
2. Is used at concentrations of 0.01%
3. Cannot be absorbed by the blood stream
According to CIR Expert Panel research published in the 2008 edition of the CIR Compendium, Cosmetics Ingredient Review (pages 43-44) BHT “does not pose a cancer risk to skin, nor does it penetrate the skin far enough to be absorbed into the blood stream”.
What is the CIR Expert Panel? A non-profit organization comprised of members of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), CFA (Consumer Federation of America) and physicians who annually review cosmetics ingredients for consumer safety. In 2011 they will review 210 individual cosmetics ingredients to ascertain any possible health risks to the public.