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Back when the healthy hair movement began, there was this idea that the use of silicones = hair suicide. It’s no surprise that products containing silicones were abandoned immediately when rumors surfaced about the dangers of using silicone filled products. With “hair experts”, naturalistas, bloggers, YouTubers, and hair forums condemning silicones, I, too, abandoned all of my silicone products for all of two months before bringing them back from beneath my bathroom sink. In those months, I struggled and dusted my ends more times than I would’ve done in an entire year. So, I set out to learn the truth about silicones and why my hair thrived with their help.

WHAT ARE SILICONES?

Silicones are synthetic oils that serve various purposes. For instance, some silicones help deep condition the hair while others strengthen hair or prevent frizz. They can help reduce porosity, moisture loss, and smooth the surface of the hair – making the hair slippery and easy to detangle. A lot of the misconceptions surrounding the silicone controversy stem from the idea that silicones dry out your hair, cause buildup, and/or clog your hair strands by creating a barrier that locks moisture out. While this may be partially true with regards to some silicones, the negative affects of using silicones depend largely on the type of silicone found in the product, its purpose, and whether it is being layered on the strand without a proper clarifying wash.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH SILICONES

Truthfully, I believe that the pros of silicones outweigh the cons. A few of my all time favorite deep and instant conditioners that contain silicones include Aussie Moist, Hello Hydration, and Garnier Fructis Damage Control. They create excellent slip, which makes my detangling process extremely easy. Silicones also help tame my mane and keep frizz at bay when wearing wash-n-gos or twist-outs. The silicones found in my blow dry serums and heat protectant sprays protect my hair from heat damage when using my flat iron and curling wands, which I use somewhat often these days. Finally, they keep my extensions moisturized, strong, and conditioned – Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist, thank you!

The easiest way to reap the benefits of silicones is by understanding whether the silicones found in your product are water soluble or non-water soluble and understanding how to remove silicones from your hair. Below I categorize a few silicones you should look out for. Then, I discuss how to get rid of silicones so you don’t experience adverse affects from using them.

HOW TO IDENTIFY SILICONES?

Often, silicones are the ingredients that are too long and quite difficult to pronounce. More importantly, they typically end in “cone,” “col,” “conol,” or “zane.”

MEET THE SILICONES

Water Soluble (aka The “Good Silicones”)

Water soluble silicones are will not cause build up. They will not weigh your hair down or “clog” strands. In fact, they most likely condition, moisturize, tame frizz, and create great slip to help with detangling. Water soluble silicones include, but are not limited to:

  • Any silicones with the abbreviations “PPG” or “PEG” as a prefix
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein (Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane)
  • Dimethicone Copolyol
  • Lauryl Methicone Copolyol

Sort of Water Soluble

Slightly water soluble silicones are silicones that may build up on the hair, but can usually be co-washed out. They behave differently on different textures. Depending on the hair texture, they may not even cause build-up – they may evaporate from the hair. These silicones include, but are not limited to:

  • Stearoxy Dimethicone
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone
  • Cyclohexasiloxane
  • Cyclomethicone

Non-Water Soluble

Deposit Repelling Silicones (aka The “Not-So-Good, but Less Likely to Build Up Silicone”)

Deposit repelling silicones build-up over a certain period of time. Layering these silicones cause build-up, but a clarifying shampoo will wash them away easily. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone
  • Amodimethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Cyclomethicone

The “Worst Silicone, but Can-Be-Warded-Off Silicone”

Finally, the silicones listed below cause build-up quickly and are difficult to remove (i.e. it’ll take a couple maybe even a few clarifying washes to rid your hair of these cones).

  • Dimethicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cetearyl Methicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Stearyl Dimethicone

GETTING RID OF SILICONES

To get rid of silicone build-up, you should get a good clarifying shampoo or any shampoo containing sulfate. For the “Worst Silicones,” you may have to lather, rinse, and repeat more than once because of the amount of build-up caused by these silicones. These shampoos will strip your hair of all product build-up. Your hair will be squeaky clean and probably feel dried out so it is important to follow up with a good moisturizing deep conditioner. A few good deep conditioners include: The Mane Choice Green Tea & Carrot Deep Conditioning Mask, Smooth As Silk Deeper Moisture Conditioner, Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist, Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose, and Shea Moisture Yucca & Baobab Anti-Breakage Masque.

Hopefully, this post helps demystify the myths (or half-truths) about silicones

Sources Referenced: Curly Nikki