Used in hair care products since the 1970s, silicone has made many headlines in the last decade. It is an ingredient found in most hair care products. Its goal is to coat the hair shaft to lock in moisture, reduce frizz and give hair a soft and silky feel.
You might have noticed a lot of products will say silicone-free and you might have also noticed that hair products that contain silicone don’t actually have the word silicone listed on the bottle. This is a marketing tactic. Generally speaking, anything ending in “-cone” is a form of silicone.
When glancing at the back of the bottle, if you noticed that word “-cone” towards the top of the ingredient list, that typically means there is a higher percentage of it in the product.
Some silicones are lighter and better for your hair, while others are heavy and more prone to building up. Some good lightweight and water-soluble silicone (read: can be easily washed out) is cyclomethicone. Some to avoid due to the heaviness are: amodimethicone and dimethicone. It may take a very long time to wash these out. Below, we break down some commonly asked questions.
How does silicone impact my hair?
The good news, silicone won’t harm your physical health. The bad news? It can affect the strength and appearance of your hair. Common side effects are hard-to-remove buildup, heavy hair, and extreme dryness.
Why do people swear against silicone products?
Some people enjoy silicones for the hydration and cleanliness it brings to the hair. However, the ingredient can often block other nourishing products from penetrating into the hair follicles with the creation of a protective layer. Over time, silicone can also create an extremely lack-luster appearance to the hair due to excessive build up. You might even notice weaker, more breakage-prone hair over time as well.
Alternatives to silicone
If after reading all of this, you’ve decided a silicone-free hair care routine is best, we would like to present you with an option that doesn’t compromise on hydration or frizz: plant-based oils. Jojoba oil, aloe vera, shea butter and other natural ingredients are a great nourishing alternative that will still leave hair shiny and alive.
And remember, deciding what products you use on your hair is your decision, and your decision only. If it’s easier to use silicone hair products because that’s what you happen to have in your bathroom, then by all means continue. If going natural is more important to you then opt for the silicone-free route. We will say though, if you’re worried about the potential long-term effects of silicone, we encourage you to cut your usage, apply a small amount or up your conditioning routine. Like we said, the choice is all yours.
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