Are Silicones Really That Bad For My Natural Hair?
If you are new to the natural hair game, or even if you have been in it for a little while you will undoubtedly have seen warnings to stay away from silicones and also seen many products displaying that they are silicone free. I guess the assumption would be that if products are making a big deal out of telling you that they are free from silicones, silicones must be bad for your hair, right? Well it may not be as clear cut as that, there may well be a place for silicones in a natural hair routine if you know how to use them.
**Disclaimer: I am not a hair care professional. All my posts are based on personal experience, preference and things I have learnt from reading and researching. If you have serious concerns about your hair please consult a professional**
What are silicones?
Silicones are manmade substances comprised of silicon, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen; they have a number of uses in everyday life. They are used in household products, as well as cosmetic and hair products.
What are the good things about Silicones?
Silicones are useful in hair products because they coat the hair strand which locks in moisture, reduces frizz and gives the hair a soft a silky feel. This is probably why silicones are also found in heat protectant products as they help to provide a layer of protections on your hair when applying heat.
What’s the downside of using silicones?
Although silicones are great at sealing in moisture by forming a protective layer on the hair strands, that layer also forms a seal that can prevent other nourishing ingredients from penetrating deep into the hair follicle. This leads to your hair drying out which we all know is bad news for natural hair. Over time silicone can also build up on your hair and be difficult to wash out with regular shampoos especially if you are using silicones that are not water-soluble. The result is dry feeling hair which will be dull in appearance. That can lead to your hair becoming brittle and weaker which will ultimately lead to damage and breakage.
Are Silicones dangerous to use?
As silicone is considered chemically stable experts say that it is safe to use and not toxic, which means it is safe to use on your hair and won’t harm you. Silicones can affect the weight of your hair making it feel weighty and weighed down. As mentioned before they can also cause dryness and encourage build up which is hard to remove without the use of a clarifying shampoo. It is however possible to avoid some of these issue without giving up silicone altogether. For example you could opt for using only small amounts of silicone based products on your hair at a time and use them infrequently to minimise build up. You also need to consider that there are different types of silicones with some being more severe in effect than others, so you could decide to avoid certain silicones.
What ingredients should I be looking out for?
Looking at the long list of ingredients in most products can often be like reading a chemistry text book, especially as many brands will list the chemical names as opposed to the laymen ones. It is unlikely that you will see the word ‘silicone’ on your hair products so it’s best to look out for ingredients ending with the word ‘cone’ as they are likely to be from the silicone family. If you notice that an ingredient ending in ‘cone’ is near the top of the ingredients list then that means there is a high percentage of silicone in that products. It’s important to remember that some silicones are better than others in terms of lightness and solubility in water.
Cyclomethicone is a light silicone that evaporates easily; it is also water soluble so can be washed out easily.
Amondimethicone and dimethicone are common silicones used in hair products but are thicker types of silicones that can weigh the hair down and may need to be removed with a clarifying shampoo.
Can I trust products that say they are silicone free?
Unfortunately you can’t believe everything you read on a bottle; some products will display themselves as being silicone free, but what they really mean is that they don’t contain any ‘bad’ silicones. To ensure that your hair products are really silicone free, its best to have a look at the ingredients list.
What are good alternatives to silicones?
If you want to completely eliminate silicones from your haircare routine opt for products with conditioning properties. Plant based oils and natural ingredients offer a great alternative way to nourish and care for your hair, leaving it looking shiny and healthy. Look for products that contain jojoba oil, aloe Vera or shea butter to use as alternatives. There are also many products on the market that are silicone free so you should definitely be able to find an alternative if you want one.
So should I use products that contain silicones?
Quite frankly, it’s up to you. Silicones are not toxic ingredients so they are safe to use, however you have to take into account some of the side effects using silicones can bring, such as dry hair and build up. You don’t have to completely quit silicones but you may want to look at usage and cut down on how frequently and how much of a silicone based products you use.
As I mentioned above there are a plethora of products on the market now that are silicone free so it is easy to make the swap if you really want to wave silicones goodbye. However if you want to stick with them then moderation is the key word of the day!
I hope that helps your understanding of silicones a little bit more; what has been your experience with using silicone based products? Have you made the switch and gone silicone free? I would love to hear about your experience, feel free to comment below.
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