It was on my quest for perfect skin that I came across silica and its benefits. This intriguing key ingredient is aimed at those with sensitive skin—a growing and relevant concern amongst people today. What’s interesting about this skincare product is that it works as a supplement, utilizing an outside-in approach.
Meet the Expert
- Isabel Sharkar, ND, is a naturopathic doctor who works in private practice at Washington, D.C.'s Indigo Integrative Health Clinic.
- Dr. Michael Somenek is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon based in Washington, D.C.
Silica is necessary for the body to produce collagen and works as a natural anti-inflammatory. Two major contributors behind wrinkles are free radicals and depletion in collagen production as we age, while inflammation acts as another aging factor our bodies have to contend with (It’s not dubbed “inflammaging"—or the "chronic, low-grade inflammation that characterizes aging" — for nothing!). While that all sounds daunting, don't worry, we called on Isabel Sharkar, ND, a naturopathic doctor, and Dr. Michael Somenek a board-certified facial plastic surgeon, to help us discover more about this youth-boosting supplement.
Keep scrolling to find out why you should be taking it.
What Is Silica?
You may remember silicon (Si) from your school days—it sits in the periodic table between aluminum and phosphorous. (Did you actually remember? Me neither; I had to Google it). When the two elements silicon and oxygen combine, they form silica (SiO2), which is also known as the quartz crystal. Surprisingly, you may well recognize silica from those little white moisture-absorbing sachets you find in new handbags and shoe boxes.
“Silica is the third most abundant trace element in the human body after iron and zinc,” explains Sharkar. Of course, we’ve all heard of zinc (it bolsters the immune system and helps repair our wounds) and iron (which helps keep our blood healthy). But what’s the deal with this lesser-known silica? “It has such a tremendous impact on skin regeneration—silica is strongly linked with healthy youthful skin,” says Sharkar. “It also creates bonds between protein molecules, which are responsible for the skin’s natural ability to retain water, critical for repair and cell renewal.”
The Benefits of Silica
- Helps in strengthening the body's connective tissue: Says Sharkar: “It is required for rebuilding collagen; it sits inside collagen, acting as glue, providing strength, flexibility, and resilience to connective tissues.”
- Keeps skin, nails, hair and teeth healthy: This glue-like function means silica is imperative for helping to keep your nails, teeth, and hair robust and healthy.
- Works as an anti-inflammatory: Silica is a natural anti-inflammatory that may help relieve skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
- Helps to balance hormones: This wonder mineral also works to keep other minerals in balance, such as calcium and magnesium, which plays an important role in keeping our hormones balanced, too. In fact, Sharkar goes as far as to say, “It is the glue that holds us together; without silica we literally would break apart.”
- Can be used preventatively: So if our bodies are producing the stuff, why should we be supplementing it? The fact is that, just like how collagen production slows from around the age of 25, silica does too. (Coincidence? We think not). “Anyone in their late 20s, early 30s should look to start taking silica. You can use it when you see fine lines or even better, preventatively," says Sharkar.
- Brightens the skin with continued use: While it will take time to notice a difference—anywhere up to 12 weeks, Sharkar lists numerous impressive benefits you should start to notice, including a brighter complexion and youthful glow, firmer skin with more elasticity (or “bounce”) as well as generally more hydrated skin. It also helps to reduce facial pores, blemishes, and wrinkles.
- Helps oxygenate the skin: “Silica gives you a glow because it is a strong carrier of oxygen, and it increases the transport of both nutrients and oxygen to the skin,” Sharkar explains. “It helps red blood cells to carry 20 percent more oxygen, and because of that, the skin stays more hydrated as well. Look for your skin to start glowing, and your acne, eczema or psoriasis to start disappearing. These would be sure signs that it’s working.”
- Reduces the signs of aging: "Silica supplements remove visible signs of aging by promoting the natural production of collagen," says Somenek. "Collagen reverses signs of aging by boosting elasticity in the skin."
Side Effects of Silica Supplements
Silica supplements can be derived from bamboo or the horsetail plant. “Horsetail may not be for everyone, and it may have contraindications in diabetes and pregnancy,” Sharkar warns. “Silicon dioxide, on the other hand, is generally safe. When in doubt, I would consult your holistic healthcare provider before starting any supplement regime. Silica is contraindicated in people with kidney or heart disease as well as fluid retention.”
How to Use Silica
If you aren't keen on adding a supplement to your daily routine, you can also bolster your intake of silica through your diet by including plenty of dark leafy greens, leeks, green beans, cucumber, celery, and asparagus.
But the only way to get enough of the mineral is via a supplement: “If you are taking silica in capsule form, 180 to 360 milligrammes per day is a good dosage to start with,” says Sharkar.
Somenek concurs, adding: "Most of the supplements are between 150 mg and 300 mg and recommend one a day, so I would just go with that range as a starting dose."
When shopping for a silica supplement, you want to make sure it doesn’t contain any unnecessary or unhealthy additives and fillers. And remember, when it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for.
"Silica supplements also improve skin hydration because silica binds and stimulates to water-binding molecules called glycosaminoglycans," Somenek says. "These molecules can hold nearly one thousand times their own weight in water, thus helping provide moisture to the skin."
This specialized health liquid is easy to ingest and designed to naturally support the development, structure, function and health of collagen in the bones, as well as cartilage, connective tissue and blood vessels.
Silica helps the skin in myriad ways, says Somenek. "It helps red blood cells carry 20 percent more oxygen, which helps the skin stay hydrated as well," Somenek says.
"Silica supplements also leave your skin glowing because silica increases the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the skin," Somenek says.
Silica is ideal for a range of skin types, but may have specific benefits for those who suffer from dry skin. "Silica is a natural anti-inflammatory, so it may help relieve skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema," says Somenek.
Developed specifically to optimize intestinal absorption. this works to heal skin and boost collagen from the inside, out.
Is silica safe to take without a prescription?
While silica is sold in drugstores, it's never a bad idea to ask your doctor their advice about the supplement you need.
Who could most benefit from taking silica supplements?
Those in their late 20s or early 30s would benefit from taking silica, as they can use it preventatively.
What benefits does silica have on the skin when ingested?
Silica can lead to a glow, because it works to increase the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the skin.
Araújo LA, Addor F, Campos PM. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. An Bras Dermatol. 2016;91(3):331-335. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20163986
Franceschi C, Garagnani P, Vitale G, Capri M, Salvioli S. Inflammaging and 'garb-aging'. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2017;28(3):199-212. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2016.09.005
Lee GH, Lee SJ, Jeong SW, et al. Antioxidative and antiinflammatory activities of quercetin-loaded silica nanoparticles. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2016;143:511-517. doi:10.1016/j.colsurfb.2016.03.060