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Silicones and Your Hair


3 min read

Nov 23, 2020



If you spend any time researching hair care do’s and don’ts, you may be confused about whether or not you should be avoiding silicones. Truth is, that especially in the natural/curly hair community, silicones have gotten a bad rap, but, as with everything else, moderation is key.  Furthermore, as more attention is focused on the ingredients we put on our hair and scalp, we have come to learn that not all silicones are created equal. While you should probably be wary of some silicones, there are some that can actually be part of a good hair care regimen.

Why Avoid Silicones?

When it comes to using silicones, the key is to ensure that you understand what a particular silicone or group of silicones does. Silicones in general provide excellent slippage to assist with detangling as well as fight frizz. However, most silicones are not water-soluble and so result in buildup on the hair strand which can weigh your hair down and alter your curl definition. Hair can become dull, limp, lifeless, and dry as a result of this build-up. It is for this reason that silicones that are insoluble in water should be avoided. Luckily, these are not the only type of silicones and there are so-called ‘good silicones’, which are water-soluble and are much less likely to cause product buildup.

Know Your Silicones

Silicones are generally easy to spot on ingredient listings.  Generally, they end in “cone,” “col,” “conol” or “zane.” If you are avoiding all silicones regardless of water solubility, then avoid these ingredients. But if you are interested in getting the benefits of silicones with none of the disadvantages then let’s look at the water-soluble and water-insoluble silicones.

Water soluble silicones will not cause build-up.

  1. Stearoxy Dimethicone

  2. Behenoxy Dimethicone

Non-water-soluble silicones that will cause build-up when used over an extended period of time.

  1. Trimethylsilylamodimethicone

  2. Amodimethicone

  3. Cyclopentasiloxane

  4. Cyclomethicone

Below are those silicones that are probably best avoided as they cause build-up quickly and are very difficult to remove.

  1. Dimethiconol

  2. Dimethicone

  3. Cetyl Dimethicone

  4. Stearyl Dimethicone

  5. Cetearyl Methicone

Why Use Silicones at All?

Silicones add shine and provide excellent slip or lubrication for the hair strand. The weight of silicones helps to seal moisture both in and out of the hair strand which is what makes them so great at preventing frizz in high humidity. This feature also guards hair against moisture loss during cold weather. The probability arises when you need to re-moisturize the hair and are unable to due to the barrier created by the silicone on the hair strand. Silicones can also smooth damaged hair, which may or may not be a good thing. It’s great for hiding damage but if you are unaware of the damage then you won’t be able to heal or undo it. You’ll only be masking it with the help of silicones. This is less than ideal if your aim is achieving healthy hair. Silicones also help maintain hair color for longer, which means fewer trips to the salon, saving your wallet and your hair.

Removing Silicone Build-Up

A good clarifying shampoo will remove silicone product buildup from your hair. If you choose to use silicones often you should ensure you deep condition your hair after using a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup. Clarifying shampoos strip the hair of all product, as well as its natural oils, and frequent use will dry out your hair. Water soluble silicones do not require the use of clarifying shampoo to remove them from the hair.

Your hair is unique and may react differently than someone else’s to the same ingredient. It is important to do what works for your lifestyle and your hair. Some women add baking soda to their day to day shampoo when they want to clarify their hair. Some find that they can remove silicones pretty well with just their usual shampoo, though shampoos with decyl glucoside as the only cleaning agent seem to be pretty crap at removing silicones at all. Experiment a little or a lot until you find your hair’s sweet spot when deciding if you should use silicones at all and how you should go about removing them.

The Final Word

Silicones do have properties that are beneficial to the hair, but they are disadvantages to using them, especially if you are on a healthy hair journey and looking to retain length. It is important to be able to accurately assess the state of your hair and silicones can get in the way of that, creating the illusion of shiny, smooth, and manageable hair, when underneath it, your hair is anything but. That said, there can be a spot in your routine for the use of silicones if you find the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for your hair type and circumstances. The important thing is to view the use of silicones with your eyes wide open.


3 min read

Nov 23, 2020



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