Is silicone a good thing? I’m sure you’ve seen the silky feel of your hair after using shampoo or styling products that contain it, but does it really do anything for your hair and what are the potential risks of its using it?
What is silicone?
Silicones are a family of compounds that add a silky texture to hair and skincare products. They arise from the natural element silica and undergo several chemical processes to form silicones.
They create an attractive texture providing slack when applied and gives an appearance of shine on the skin and hair. There are several different varieties of silicone. Each has a different profile and characteristic.
Silicone is a type of polymer that can be found in many different products. Silicones are used for their waterproofing, lubricating and protective properties.
Whilst on the surface it would appear that these qualities make them the perfect ingredient for shampoos and conditioners. However, let’s dig deeper. Do they provide protection against breakage while conditioning hair to keep it healthy and shiny?
Water soluble silicones
These are well-known for their ability to prevent combing tangles and static. They do this by creating a protective barrier on the hair cuticle, which smooths down any jagged or rough edges that can snag strands of hair in other products (like hairspray).
Guide to Decoding Silicone Ingredients
Water Soluble Silicones Dimethicone Copolyol Cyclomethicone Lauryl Methicone Copolyol Any silicone with PEG as a prefix
Non-Water Soluble Silicones Amodimethicone Dimethicone Pheryl Trimethicone Ceteraryl Methicone Dimethiconol Amodimethicon Stearyl DImethicone.
What do silicones do to hair?
Silicones create a thin covering around the hairs cuticle. This protects your hair from damaged hair when there is any hot iron or blow dryer in being used. This creamy smooth, shiny material leaves your locks soft but completely smooth and tangled.
Frizz-fighting shampoos and conditioners most often carry silicones as do soften serums. The coating keeps your hair hydrated from the inside and prevents moisture from penetrating the hair.
Does silicone cause build up in hair?
One of the most common questions we get is whether silicone can cause buildup. The short answer is .. yes! Silicone, also known as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), is used in shampoos and conditioners for many reasons, but primarily because it helps hair stay smooth and manageable.
But just because something isn’t likely to cause problems doesn’t mean there aren’t any risks associated with using it! Here, we prefer natural haircare products!
Is silicone really bad for your hair?
Silicone may a good thing if the treatment leaves strands of hair softer, shinier and more manageable. However, not all treatments are created equally which means that using silicone-based shampoos on already damaged or chemically treated hairs could cause even further damage to your locks. This can lead to dryness and breakage.
There is some evidence to suggest silicone could lead to an imbalance of natural oils on the scalp and may even cause a buildup of product on the surface of strands which leads to dryness or breakage. To avoid this, use silicone-free shampoos on chemically treated or colour-treated hair.
Should I use a silicone free shampoo?
Overall yes, but it depends on you and your hair type. If you have dry, damaged hair then yes! Or if you prefer just to use natural organic ingredients in your personal care and rely on your own natural oils to give you shine, then no.
If you have very frizzy unmanageable hair, initially you may find silicone shampoo helps with shine and keeping the strands untangled. However, over time be aware this could lead to dry, damaged broken hair.
Is silicone bad for your scalp?
There are some downsides to the use of silicone in shampoo, however. Silicone molecules are larger than water molecules and can’t be rinsed out as easily with just water; they also build up on hair strands faster than other ingredients so may require more frequent washing for this reason.
This buildup is also more difficult to remove than other ingredients, such as sebum and sweat, so it can be a concern for those with sensitive skin or scalp.
Is silicone bad for natural hair?
There are some who believe that silicone in shampoo may also make hair less healthy over time because the conditioners coat strands of hair without actually nourishing them; this may cause split ends and breakage.
On the other hand, if you love the way silicones make your hair look and feel (over 50 per cent of hair-care products use some type of silicone), the best way to get the benefits without the buildup is to use a clarifying shampoo every other wash.
But if you find that shampoo strips your hair and scalp of essential oils and moisture, it may be best to join the no-cone movement. It may take time to detox your hair and switch to a natural shampoo when you stop using hair products which contain silicone.
Silicone products are quite pervasive within the beauty industry and it can be quite hard to find silicone free products.
What’s the controversy?
Silicones do not pose a toxicological risk for humans but people who choose a natural all-over beauty route may not want them in their products.
Certain types of silicone may accumulate on the hair. There is a residue that stops moistness from getting into the hair shaft. Over time hair becomes dull. It is dry and becomes weak. Using synthetic materials to keep your hair shiny and glossy is never going to be good.
Hair follicles become weaker and your general hair health declines. They also weigh hair down causing it to become brittle and snap.
What shampoos don’t contain silicones?
Any natural shampoo or solid shampoo bar or solid conditioner bars will not contain silicones. You can rest assured we have ensured that none of the natural shampoos we carry contains any form of silicone. We’ve made sure our shampoo and conditioner range are completely silicone free! I just don’t want a waterproof coating on my hair!
The nitty gritty on silicones
Silicones are like plastics in that they contain flexibility that can be moulded into anything. Silicones keep moisture away from the hair because it is hydrophobic meaning that water will not stick to it and penetrate through the surface. It can be found in shampoos, conditioners, styling creams for curly hair, gels etc
Most people are complaining about the weighing of the conditioner/ shampoo using silicone-based chemicals. This often happens for people who wash their hair frequently and can be avoided by limiting the number of times you shampoo and condition your hair per week.
Unlike some natural oils, silicones are extremely stable, meaning they do not degrade under heat or UV light to become something unknown or unwanted. This is especially important when it comes to hair products as they are often exposed to heat styling tools and direct sunlight on a regular basis.
While silicone is safe to use for humans they are not meant to enhance your overall health. In both the short run and long run as they contain their aesthetic benefits it causes buildup and overwashing but it remains unclear what will eventually be done. They may also be contributing to our water supply, giving us reason to nix excessive use. The most important thing is you understand what they do or don’t do. For this reason, one might avoid them for hair care.
If you are thinking of opting for a silicone-free hair care routine, however, you should be prepared for a bit of an adjustment period as it may take you some time to get used to the slightly different feel of the hair care products.
Those with very dry, frizzy, or damaged hair usually benefit more from the added smoothing, softening, and shine-enhancing properties of a silicone-based formula. Just make sure to look for one that is formulated with water-soluble silicones to help prevent the likelihood of buildup. Alternatively, should you feel that silicones just aren’t right for you, that’s fine too. Those who typically reach for lightweight shampoos and conditioners prefer natural silicone-free ones.
What are the alternatives to silicone in hair care?
So, what are the alternatives? Oils are starting to gain momentum in the anti silicone backlash. We do not have silicones in our shampoos to limit the long-term effects of build-up and breakage. Instead, we have a range of shampoos with high-quality natural oils such as argan, almond and coconut that are loaded with antioxidants, linoleic acid and omega 6 fatty acids to impart spectacular shine and gloss.
There are a few things you can do to make sure your shampoo is right for your hair. First, read the ingredients label and don’t use any product that contains silicone on colour-treated or chemically treated hairs if it doesn’t say specifically that those products have been formulated for such treatments. Additionally, look at the list of ingredients in the formula and see if there are any silicones listed; this will help you determine whether the shampoo is made for chemically treated hair or not.