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Is Silicone Bad for Hair? Top Silicone & Haircare Questions Answered.

Last Updated:November 10, 2020

I have been using a variety of hair products already. Some have given me great hair, while others ended up with me having a not so bouncy mane. I came across a review that silicones were used in a variety of products for hair like shampoos, serums, and the like. I was shocked because I wasn’t really paying much attention to the list of ingredients. Will silicone really damage my hair as what others have been saying?

The Basics: Silicone & Haircare

What Are Silicones?

Silicones are these synthetic polymers that are designed to trap the moisture in your hair strands by creating a seal around them. They are usually added in hair care products like shampoos, conditioners, and serums, but this ingredient can also be found in makeup.

Why are they used in haircare?

This ingredient is often used in shampoos and conditioners to help create a protective coating on your hair to prevent them from being damaged.

What do silicones do to your hair?

Like it was mentioned before, silicones in products for your hair create a protective covering to keep the strands hydrated within. They also repel moisture from getting inside the cuticle since it will lead to frizz. Silicones can also act as protection when you will be using heat such as from styling tools. Using heat protectants containing silicone can make your hair soft and smooth after and free from frizz too.

Is silicone bad for hair?

Truthfully, silicones aren’t bad for your hair unless you choose the wrong type of silicone, like in the case of caulk. Some may say that it being synthetic is the reason why it is dangerous, but they are wrong. Silicone provides protection to your hair shaft against moisture and heat. But there is more to this synthetic ingredient that needs to be understood so you will know its pros and cons.

Does silicone buildup on hair?

Yes, this is probably the only downside to using a product that contains silicone which is not unusual given its synthetic nature. If a non-water-soluble silicone is used, it may leave traces of it behind. If your hair feels weighed down, you can remove the buildup with a hair cleanser and that’s it.

How do you spot silicones when buying hair products?

Silicones will not appear as is in the ingredients list of a product. So, how will you know if the shampoo or any other hair products you are using contains it? Names such as dimethicone, cyclomethicone, and even amodimethicone (or word ending in cone) are examples of this ingredient that you will find in many products for hair and skin.

Bad silicones to be aware of

There are good and bad silicones that you should be aware of. The good ones are those that are water-soluble meaning that they can be washed off. Now, remember that I have mentioned that silicone can weigh your hair down? Well, these are the bad ones, or the non-water-soluble ones like dimethicone, cetearyl methicone, and amodimethicone just to name a few. They cannot be easily rinsed off no matter how hard you try.

What are the types of silicones?

There are two types of silicones that are used in various products and these are:

  1. Water-soluble.

    As the name suggests, these are the ones that easily dissolve when water is introduced into the mix. These can be removed when you use a mild shampoo or just conditioner when washing your mane. Examples of water-soluble silicones are dimethicone copolyol, lauryl methicone copolyol, or those that have PEG as their prefix.

  2. Non-soluble.

    These are the ones that you cannot remove so quickly which can damage your strands eventually. This could be prevented when you wash your strands with clarifying shampoo. Although this type of silicone does work well in keeping heat at bay, they can be drying in the long run.

Silicone Products

What ingredients should I look out for?

As much as possible, look for ingredients that can be washed off to avoid having your hair weighed down whenever you use it. Examples are dimethicone as well as dimethiconol since they can leave your strands feeling greasy. Unfortunately, this will lead you to more damage to your strands.

How Do I Find the Best Silicone Hair Products?

How will you be able to find the right silicone hair product for you? Just as with any product that you purchase, you should do your research first. Don’t just read the label but take a closer look at the list of ingredients. Keep in mind that the higher the ingredient is in the list, the higher its percentage will be. It would help if you know what type of silicone is appropriate for your hair type. If you are not a fan of using anything with synthetic ingredients, then look for those that do not have this ingredient.

Silicone Alternatives

Should I Use Silicone-Free Shampoo and Conditioner?

This depends mostly on your preferences when it comes to your shampoo or conditioner. If you want your hair to be hydrated, get some protection from frizz, or if you need help with treating your damaged strands, then choosing silicone-free hair cleansing products will not give you the results that you are looking for. What you need is a product that can make your strands silky smooth and add shine to them which is exactly what you will get from products that come with silicone ingredients.

If you are ready to switch to products that do not contain this ingredient, you will have to prepare yourself since the texture of your mane will not be the same. Instead of having strands that are slick, you will end up with one that feels clean through and through.

But my shampoo says it’s “silicone-free”.

Labels can be misleading. Even when it says that it is free from this ingredient, if you are not familiar with the names that it uses, then it is possible that you are not free from it just yet. Any ingredient that you see that has a cone at the end of the word is a type of silicone. If it is near the top of the list it means that it has a high amount of it and must be avoided if you don’t want to be exposed to this synthetic ingredient.

Silicone-Free Product Recommendations

Silicones have already received a bad rap even before they have become mainstream, but this doesn’t mean that they are all bad. However, if you prefer to use silicone free products, there are several to choose from. These are the ones that I think are worth starting with.

Reverie Milk Anti-Frizz Leave In Conditioner

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11/30/2020 09:00 pm GMT

If you are often bothered by frizz, then Reverie Milk leave-in conditioner is a worthwhile solution to consider. This silicone-free conditioner relies on nourishing ingredients that have been derived from almonds, coconut, and olive oils, just to name a few. It is a lightweight formula that not only stops frizz from happening, but it also leaves your hair soft, shiny, and silky to the touch.

This leave-in conditioner can be used on all hair types and comes with 16 essential oils that leave that long lasting fragrance on your strands. You will not find any harmful ingredients in it such as phthalates, silicones, parabens, and artificial fragrances just to name a few. Two to four pumps will be enough to condition your strands.

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OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Hair-Texturizing Sea Salt Spray

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11/30/2020 09:00 pm GMT

Instead of using hairsprays that contain plenty of silicone, why not try this texturizing sea salt spray by OGX? From the name of the product, you can already imagine being by the beach with your wavy hair being blown by a gentle breeze. But with the conditions being by the sea making your hair appear limp, this silicone-free sea salt spray can help you maintain that beachy waves you are sporting without drying or weighing your mane down. Think of having that tousled look with your curls still very prominent.

This sea salt spray is suitable for those who have oily to average type of hair. The salt added into the mixture is quite capable of holding your hairstyle without making the strands appear dry or brittle to the touch. Instead of silicone and other harsh ingredients, what you will get instead is the perfect blend of sea kelp as well as Moroccan argan oil that nourishes your hair from roots to tips. What else is there to like about this product? Well, it does leave that fresh citrusy scent to it that makes your mane quite irresistible.

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Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Shampoo

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11/30/2020 09:00 pm GMT

Show off those pretty curls with Maui moisture curl quench + coconut oil shampoo. This silicone-free shampoo is made to hydrate, smooth, as well as stops frizz from taking over your curly locks. Using this shampoo will leave your hair feeling soft to the touch with the added shine and bounce to them. Even if you have tight curls, you will find that this product can easily penetrate your scalp to the roots of the strands where it delivers proper hydration so your curls will look better than ever.

You don’t have to worry about tangles or frizz on your curls when you lavish it with Maui moisture. One of its key ingredients is the aloe vera which is known to define curls. Add to this the rest of the ingredients which are plumeria extract, papaya extract, and coconut milk, and you know that you will have a shampoo that enriches and nourishes your strands significantly. You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that this product doesn’t come with any synthetic ingredients like silicone, paraben, and phthalates. You don’t really need these synthetic ingredients to give your curls the nourishment they need.

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Conclusion

The debate between using silicone-based or silicone-free products is still ongoing. Both have their merits so it all boils down to your preferences. Silicone may be synthetic, but it does contribute to keeping our hair soft, smooth, and protected from the heat coming from the styling tools that we frequently use. Although the downside is that your hair will feel weighted down, this only happens when the product that you are using contains the “bad” silicones which are those that are non-water-soluble or those that do not dissolve when washed. If using a product that has this ingredient doesn’t bother you that much, then choose those that have the PEG prefix since it will indicate that the silicone present is safe for your strands.

Taking care of your mane with or without silicone since different hair types have their own specific needs. If you feel that the hair products that you have been using make your mane feel weighed down, then use a clarifying shampoo since it is possible that the silicones present are leaving their residue. A clarifying shampoo is designed to cleanse the scalp from any impurities which can help make your mane feel lighter, bouncier, and smoother too.