I've thought about writing this for a while now, and I know that by saying this I am leaving myself subject to criticism and even hate from Rih Rih's Navy and Fenty Beauty lovers around the world. I know I may have my Black Card Revoked, Apple music might block me from listening to Work, and the Clurb may make me pay extra at the door - but as a graduate student and researcher, product junkie and skincare connoisseur committed to truth, I had to let it be known. Fenty foundation broke my co-worker, my roommate, and me out. Badly.
When Queen RiRi announced she would be dropping a makeup line, I, like many others who had trouble finding a perfectly fitting foundation shade were ecstatic. Fenty Beauty dropped 40 shades. FORTY!!? And sure enough, I found the perfect shade that made me look like a glowing, photoshopped, matte, Goddess, and I began wearing it any time I went out. Unfortunately, I quickly noticed that this new addition to my makeup routine didn't only make me glow - it made me break into these little underground zits all over my cheeks and forehead.
I wore Fenty two nights in a row over a weekend and a bunch of undergound bumps appeared. It was worse than it looks.
What is Making Me Break Out?
I tried multiple times to see if it was something else I was using in my makeup routine, removing different products at a time to see what my skin was trying to purge out, but after a month of no Fenty and great skin, I'm positive it was the foundation. So I did some research. Turns out Fenty Foundation is a dimethicone-heavy product, and my skin HATES dimethicone. You may be familiar with dimethicone as a popular non-water-soluble silicone found in hair products, and an ingredient that Curly Girl Method devotees avoid.
Unfortunately for me, this ingredient also seems to be in EVERYTHING makeup based and even sneaks into many skincare products. So why was Fenty in particular breaking me out if this ingredient is everywhere? According to Allure, ingredients are listed in order of their concentrations, "except for ones that are less than 1 percent of the formula and colorants, fragrances, and preservatives." So when you look at Fenty's ingredient list, it begins with dimethicone, and then that ingredient repeats several times in different forms throughout the ingredient list. While most conventional foundations do contain dimethicone at least somewhere on the list, Fenty seems to have a high concentration of it compared to other brands I have used.
The ingredients listed in the Fenty Foundation are as follows:
Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Talc, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Polypropylene, Isododecane, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Nylon-12, Hdi/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Glycerin, Magnesium Sulfate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Aluminum Hydroxide, Methicone, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Propylene Carbonate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Parfum/Fragrance, Silica, Biosaccharide Gum-4, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Paullinia Cupana Seed Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sorbic Acid. May Contain (+/-): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI77499).
Note how early and frequently Dimethicone appears on the list.
What is Dimethicone?
According to CVSkinLabs, Dimethicone (also known as polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS) is a silicone oil that is man-made in a laboratory, and used in personal care products as an anti-foaming agent, skin protectant, and skin and hair moisturizer.
It is used commonly in the beauty industry because it provides a smooth application, filling in uneven texture and fine lines, which helps create a smooth and flawless look in products like primers, foundations, and serums. It also provides a protective barrier, which is meant to keep moisture locked in, keeping your skin and hair hydrated for longer. However, this artificial coating on the skin can cause several skin issues.
Why is Dimethicone Bad?
Firstly, the protective barrier dimethicone is known for trapping everything underneath it, including bacteria, sebum, and dirt. Obviously, all of these things can lead to new zits and blackheads, which can continue to be trapped under skin if using makeup to cover up these impurities. Additionally, the coating can prevent skin from being able to breathe, meaning the normal gland functions work improperly. This affects your ability to sweat, to regulate its own temperature, and to rid itself of dead skin cells. And if this wasn't enough to make you double-think what you are putting on your face; dimethicone is a non-biodegradable chemical that is terrible for the environment.
A small part of my weekly skincare routine that helps prevent and calm breakouts.
What are the Alternatives?
As stated earlier, most beauty brands do contain dimethicone at some level of concentration in their products. But there are a few ways to either avoid it, or at least limit its presence in your skincare routine. Since I found out that my skin reacts badly to dimethicone, I have been insistent on checking the ingredients before I buy anything. If I notice that a foundation's first ingredient is dimethicone - Bye. If it lists dimethicone more than 2x, bye again. I also discovered a new favorite brand that stays away from dimethicone in its entire line: Drunk Elephant. Unfortunately, a majority of the products in this brand are out of my price range, but it's still one of the few brands I have found that does not use dimethicone in any of its products. They also have a tinted moisturizer with SPF that I use daily and costs about the same as Fenty Foundation. Here is me wearing Drunk Elephant Umbra Tint:
Although this tinted moisturizer does not provide a lot of coverage, it's become my 'everyday makeup' look, and my skin is SO much happier.
In order to keep my skin breakout free and my wallet happy, I use a mix of all natural products which often offer less coverage on the weekdays, and heavier products on weekends or when I have some kind of event where my face needs to look beat. I also NEVER go to sleep without taking off my makeup and double-cleansing. But in the end, skincare-similar to hair care, is all about what works for you. Test things out, ask for samples at Sephora (I do this A LOT), and slowly add new products into your skincare or makeup regimen so you know what may be affecting you. And as always, what works for me may not work for you - but it can never hurt to know what you are putting on your face.
*Some people have little to no reaction to products carrying dimethicone. This is based on my own personal experience. So if Fenty has been working for you, more power to ya.
What are some of y'all's favorite non-silicone, paraben-free, not-tested on animals, and/or natural based beauty brands?
Please share so I can check them out!