Yes I sure did just do a pun on silicones, it’s funny corny and you know it.
If you’ve been apart of the natural hair community for any amount of time or just a beauty fan, I’m sure you’ve heard about silicones and how you’re supposed to avoid them like the plague. But do you know why? Here’s the truth about silicones and my personal take on when and how to use them IF you find that you can’t live without them.
Silicones are a common ingredient found in many beauty products. They’re in everything from shampoos to sunscreen. To put it simply, silicones are a plastic molecule that coats a surface giving it a shiny and slippery feel. It’s used in sunscreen to prevent the white waxy look some sunscreens give. In hair products, it’s used primarily to give hair a smooth, shiny look and feel with great slip. You find them often in conditioners and moisturizing products.
Here’s the catch.
Although they make your hair feel like it’s melted every tangle away and have given you silky locks of a lifetime, silicones mask your hair and don’t allow other products, including water to penetrate your hair. The only way to strip your hair of silicones is by using a sulfate shampoo or a clarifying shampoo. The problem is, once you’ve used a silicone after shampooing – nothing else will penetrate your hair. So those juicy hair butters and creams, leave in conditioners, gels, etc. they’re all just sitting on top of the hair shaft and you’re not reaping any benefits of their ingredients. Initially you may not notice a difference in your hair, but overtime locking out the moisture you’re trying to restore, will leave your hair dry, frizzy and brittle.
Now – with all that being said, if you shampoo and condition/deep condition your hair with silicone free products and I’d even extend to silicone free leave-in, I do believe you can get away with using some styling products that contain silicones. So long as they’re lower on the ingredient list (ensures it’s not mainly what the product is comprised of) and you’re washing your hair with a sulfate shampoo to rid your hair and prep it for your next wash/condition.
It’s also important to know that there are tons of types silicones and some are more water soluble than others, meaning some break down easier than others casting a thinner plastic cast over the shaft. Below is a list of the most common silicones from the least-water soluble (ones you should stay away from the most) to the ones that are more-water soluble (silicones that are more “OK” for regular use in styling products – just don’t forget to wash your hair with a sulfate shampoo to avoid buildup and dryness overtime). A quick way to identify your ingredient list for silicones is by checking for words ending in “-cone”.
Least or Non Water Soluble Silicones:
- Phenyl trimethicone
Most Water Soluble Silicones:
- Stearoxy Dimethicone
- Behenoxy Dimethicone
- Dimethicone copolyo
- Silicones with PEG listed before it
- Lauryl methicone copolyol
If you’re ever unsure about an ingredient in your product, stop and take a second to look it up, it doesn’t hurt and will save you money and the effort of repair later.
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