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What's The Difference Between Water

Jan 12, 2024

People do not often consider the chemical reactions responsible for their favorite makeup products. Although the average woman uses 12 beauty products per day, according to Harvard Health, many are unaware of how different ingredients interact with one another on a chemical basis. While it may not always be necessary to know the exact chemistry of cosmetics, it helps to possess a rudimentary understanding of the ingredients found in your beauty and skincare, if only to avoid makeup mishaps such as pilling, separation, and oxidation. These issues tend to occur if you use products with opposing formulas, as is the case with water and silicone.

For instance, if you find that your makeup separates soon after applying, you may be combining incompatible ingredients. Water-based products are a great option if you have sensitive skin and prefer a natural finish, while silicone-based concealer offers a thicker consistency and oil-controlling perks, per Diva Me Bella. Both types of concealer provide their own benefits, but combining these ingredients is not always a good idea. If you are determined to solve your concealer quandaries, it's time to take a closer look at the ingredient label and demystify the science behind your cosmetics.

If your concealer is water-based, it will be listed as one of the top three ingredients in the form of aqua, purified water, or distilled water. Many silicone-based concealers also contain water, but you can identify a water-based concealer by the lack of silicones and oils in the first few ingredients. Similarly, it's not unusual to see silicone in water-based concealer, but silicones remain lower on the ingredient list, meaning that the product only contains minuscule amounts.

The lightweight feel and liquid consistency of water-based concealer provide light — yet buildable — coverage, which pairs well with sensitive or acne-prone skin. When using a water-based concealer, opt for a primer and foundation with a similar formulation to prevent dryness and separation, per The Beauty Umbrella. Products containing water hydrate the skin, so those with dry skin do well with water-based concealer and foundation (via Perfect Diary). Water-based concealers also do not pair well with silicone-based primer or foundation, and vice versa, as silicone is chemically resistant to water, per Healthline.

Products containing silicone, on the other hand, are not suited to dry skin. Silicone-based concealer is a better match for oily skin, as it absorbs sebum (oil) and mattifies the skin, according to Wander Beauty. To identify a silicone-based product, look for ingredients that end in "-cone" or "-siloxane," such as dimethicone or cyclohexasiloxane (via Healthline).

Despite pairing well with oily skin, silicone concealer isn't a great option if your skin is prone to breakouts. "For acne-prone patients, silicones can act as a 'barrier' and trap oil, dirt, and dead skin cells, making acne worse," dermatologist Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson tells Healthline. Therefore, people often categorize silicone as a pore-clogging ingredient, but it is not comedogenic. Instead, silicone's occlusive properties form a barrier on the skin's surface which locks in the acne-causing ingredients layered underneath. This does not always lead to breakouts, but if you have acne-prone skin, it is best to avoid silicone-based products.

If you use concealer with silicone, remember to double-cleanse with an oil-based cleanser to remove any traces from your skin. Otherwise, stick to a water-based formulation to avoid acne and sensitivity.