Silicone in Hair Care Products

What is Silicone?

Silicone is a chemical compound also known as polysiloxane (a number of polymers that includes a synthetic compound). The siloxane is made up of silicon atoms and oxygen atoms combined with other elements like carbon or hydrogen.

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What does Silicone do in Hair Care Products?

As an ingredient in hair care products, silicone acts as a sealant for hair. It’s used in shampoos and conditioners to give the hair slip, easing the detangling process. It is also used to add shine to the hair. The shine is created from the plastic coating of silicone on the hair. As a sealant, silicone is used to protect the hair from exterior moisture and stimulants like frizz caused by humidity. You can also find silicone in heat protectants.

The Side Effects of Silicone

While silicones in hair care products can be beneficial, there still can be negative impacts to its usage. The sealing properties in silicones can lock out exterior elements like air and water which can potentially harm the hair.

On the subject interviewed Shai Amiel, Celebrity Hairstylist & Owner, CAPELLA Salon. Amiel had this to say;

“Silicone will weigh the hair down, making it limp, lifeless, and, with time, very dull. It prevents moisture from penetrating the hair shaft and becomes like a magnet for dirt and other ingredients. So in essence, we get a good shine for a couple of days, but over time it will attract more buildup on the hair. With time it will dry the hair out because it won’t allow in the conditioner and it ends up sitting on the surface. Due to lack of moisture, the hair will become very brittle and could lead to frizz and breakage.”

Silicones in Heat Protectant

When using heat protectants be mindful of the ingredients present and the temperature used to activate the heat protectant.
At temperatures over 450 degrees Fahrenheit certain silicones can release formaldehyde.

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  • Dimethicone/Dimethiconol

  • Methicone

  • Phenyl trimethicone

  • Cyclomethicone

  • Dimethicone copolyol.

Extensive exposure and inhalation of formaldehyde has the potential to be dangerous. Being mindful about the silicones present in hair care products can help you avoid potential hair damage and toxin exposure. That being said not all silicones are bad.

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Silicones in Shampoo and Conditioner

Heavier Silicones are not water soluble. This makes it difficult to remove from the hair causing silicone buildup, which is damaging.
This includes but is not limited to, Simethicone and Dimethicone.

Lighter Silicones are water soluble or evaporable and are able to provide the benefits of the silicone without lingering. This includes but is not limited to, Amodimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone copolyol, Cyclopentasiloxane

How to Get Rid of Potentially Harmful Silicones

Many will use a clarifying shampoo, detoxifying, to remove the build up of silicones. Clarifying shampoos are meant to remove minerals, oils and residue from the hair. Over-usage can leave the hair dry and brittle.

“Some ingredients you’ll want to look for in a shampoo to remove silicones are sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) and ammonium lauryl ether sulfate (ALES). Products with clay like Sahara Clay and Rhassoul Clay can also be used to deep clean hair and remove silicone buildup.”

Not all Silicones are bad, like many ingredients they have their flaws. The side effects from silicones do not impact everyone. The impacts can vary greatly due to hair type and maintenance. Not all ingredients ending in –cone should be villainized. Some ingredients are better used in other industries or products. Dimethicone for example has numerous benefits in skin care despite the negative impacts it can have on hair.

What is your experience with silicones in hair care products? Do you use any products with silicones in them? Leave a comment down below!

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