Is silicone bad for hair? This is a million-dollar question as silicones have a bittersweet relationship with your hair.
Most of the hair-care products that we use daily consist of silicones that have their perks and drawbacks on the health of your hair that you might or might not notice.
So, if you are also in the predicament of greasy roots and dry ends, you have overlooked the sneaky little devil in your hair care products.
Here is everything you should know about silicones and why is silicone bad for hair?
What are Silicones, and Why is it Even in My Shampoo?
Silicone is an artificial polymer used in masses of hair-care products, shampoos, conditioners, and serums. It is a slippery gel-like substance that forms a layer on your hair locks.
It is a hair care product that forms a thin, water-tight coating around the hair-cuticle, forming an outer layer for your hair that prevents the water from your hair from evaporating in the air and binds the moisture inside.
It is like a raincoat preventing the water from escaping from your hair-locks. And the water-binding inside gives a sleek, shiny and soft look to your hair.
Then, how is silicone bad for hair? Let’s have a look.
Is Silicone Bad for Hair?
There is no general answer to this question as various forms of silicones are used in hair-care products.
Not all silicones have the same composition and same characteristic properties. They vary in a wide expanse. And you can’t measure everything from the same yardstick.
Some of the silicones are lighter and more breathable than some other heavy ones. Some of them are water-insoluble, which can create a hefty buildup at the base of your hair-lock, while some others are water-soluble and can be easily washed off with a regular wash.
Water-insoluble silicone is silicone bad for hair, preventing your hair shaft from absorbing moisture, making your hair greasy and sticky at the roots. The buildup can make your hair dry and dull its appearance. Also, it makes the hair-locks more vulnerable to damage, resulting in the breakage of your hair in the middle.
Now you must be thinking; this is absolutely contrary to what I had expected that I would get from my shampoo. Right?
The use of silicones that are not water-soluble can leave behind silicone buildup that can make your hair greasy after weeks of use. And if you have thin hair or fine strands, this can weigh your hair down, which is a recipe for brewing disaster.
Not only that, the buildup prevents some other moisturizing ingredients obtained by applying oil or some food products from penetrating the hair shaft.
And worst of all, it can result in a vicious cycle of never-ending buildup and the process of removing them if you don’t opt for the right measures. Generally, we use clarifying shampoos to eliminate silicone buildup and then use conditioners to replenish the nourishment lost in that process, but some conditioners have silicones too!
Which makes you start going in circles of removing and then applying silicone on your hair again and again.
So, the answer to “Is silicone bad for hair?” is, yeah, to some extent, it is. But hold on, let’s not go to any conclusion yet!
Should I Steer Clear of Silicones?
Now here is the question that everyone asks themselves, either just in their brain or aloud, when they read about the harm possible from silicones. However, the question is quite straightforward; getting an answer to it is not that easy.
Silicones might have their downsides, but it has undeniably had some brighter sides to them too.
You cannot avoid the fact that silicones form a protecting layer for your hair locks that prevent the water from evaporating from your hair. It keeps your hair hydrated, giving it the shine and silky smoothness void of frizz we all coveted.
Some of the lighter silicones have conditioning properties to them, too, not is silicone bad for hair. That allows your fingers to slip between your hair locks like water.
Moreover, the layer of silicone protects your hair from getting damaged by the heat styling tools like hair straighteners and rollers.
Some of how silicone will affect your hair also depends on your hair type. It can prove to be especially beneficial if you have curly hair or dry/frizzy hair, as it will lock the moisture in the hair locks, preventing them from getting stringy. It also prevents the curls from poofing up in humid weather.
But that can be a different story if you have thin and fine strands. Silicones might weigh your hair down, making it look dry at the ends and greasy at the roots. And that’s also not necessary!
On the whole, we can say that silicone is not just only a villain of this story. Like every other villain we have known, it has a soft side to it too.
Then what should I do? Is silicone bad for hair, really or not?
Just know that all silicones are not the same, there are various types of silicones, and some are even friends with your hair. All you have to do is look out for the good ones and steer clear of the bad ones.
What are Good and Bad Silicones?
Basically, the water-insoluble silicones are what we call ‘bad silicones,’ which are silicone bad for hair. Because they accumulate in the scalp of your hair, making a greasy buildup around your hair-shaft that can interrupt the proper breathing of the roots of your hair. And you can’t even wash them with your regular shampoo.
Buildups will either make your hair dry and brittle or super greasy at the ends—none of which you want for your precious hair.
So, what can we do? You should look out for bad silicones; namely, Dimethicone, Cetearyl dimethicone, dimethiconol, stearyl Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, cetyl dimethicone, amodimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, and trimethylsilylamodimethicone, is silicone bad for hair.
These are some heavy and sticky silicone forms that might cause you hair problems.
If you see any element ending with ‘-cone’ at the top of the list or near the top of the list, it means that the ingredient is in a greater proportion than the others. That way, you can find whether your shampoo has a large proportion of bad silicones by looking at the ingredients list.
And as we know, all silicones are not created equal—some silicones are water-soluble and lightweight, which we call ‘good silicones.’
Some of them are stearoxy dimethicone, dimethicone copolyol, and behenoxy dimethicone.
Water-soluble silicones are light and more friendly to our hair-care routine.
They are called ‘breathable silicones’ as they won’t form a buildup and give just a conditioning effect to the hair locks and the promised shine. These are not the silicones that are silicone bad for hair.
How Can I Get Rid of Silicone Buildup?
There are many clarifying shampoos on the market that remove the buildup from your hair in one wash. You can think of clarifying shampoos as steroids that rupture the buildup in your hair and remove the unwanted oils to make your hair super clean.
Tip: Try using clarifying shampoos as little as possible, as they also remove some natural oils from your hair, making them prone to hair breakage. And regular use of it will leave your hair completely damaged. It also strips the color from your hair if you have dyed it.
Is Silicone in Shampoos Hazardous for Health?
Products with silicones have a bad rep in the hair-care industry, but silicones are not toxic substances, and they are not dangerous for your health.
Water-insoluble silicone in your shampoo is silicone bad for hair, but it doesn’t put any threat to your physical health. All it does is, make your hair greasy with a hefty buildup or weigh it down if you have fine strands.
But that’s the extent of it. It might affect the appearance and strength of your hair, but it doesn’t cause any life-threatening illness. It doesn’t cause any disease. Period!
What Other Options Do I Have?
If you decide that, I want to root silicone out of the life of my hair completely. Here are some alternatives you can use instead.
You can use some products with conditioning properties. That way, you can do frizz control and still not lose moisture from your hair strands without taking silicone anywhere near your hair locks and adding shine.
You can start using some natural plant-based oils in your hair-locks to nourish your hair along with having that sleek shiny look. Some of the natural oils that you can use are:
- Jojoba oil
- Shea Butter
- Aloe vera
Or there is another option that you limit the number of times you use your silicone-free products. You can start using shampoos twice or thrice a week rather than using them daily. That way, you can have a silky and shiny look with the conditioning properties of silicone without having to worry about hefty silicone buildups.
So, is silicone bad for hair or not depends on many facts and figures that we have stated. All you have to do is, do a small study of your hair-care products and hair type, and you can have the hair of your dreams!
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Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.