ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SILICONES; HOW THEY AFFECT YOUR HAIR AND SCALP
Many hair care products including conditioners, shampoos and hair gels contain silicones. In fact, silicones have been used in hair products since the 1970s. Silicone is a manmade substance that helps to coat the hair shaft, thus locking in moisture, reducing frizz, and giving hair that sought-after soft and silky feel. This can be particularly useful for people whose hair don’t tolerate humidity well.
However, silicone is a hair care ingredient that sparks very fierce discussions, because while it has a multitude of benefits, it has also faced heavy criticism in recent times, so much so that there are people who have completely banned it from their hair care routines.
The purpose of this article it so weigh the advantages of silicone against its disadvantages, so that you can best decide for yourself if it is a good option for your hair care routine or not.
Benefits of silicones
Silicones form a thin, waterproof coating around the hair cuticle. What this coating does is to keep hair hydrated from within, while also stopping external moisture from penetrating your hair shaft and causing frizz. So, it is ideal for keeping hair frizz-free.
One other thing silicone does is to protect hair from the damage caused by heat-styling tools such as hot irons and blow dryers. The glossy, slick texture of silicones leave the human hair tangle free, smooth and soft, and this is why most frizz-fighting conditioners and shampoos contain silicones. Silicones thus boost the shine of your hair, thereby giving it the appearance of healthy glowing hair.
They also help to voluminise hair by coating the hair strand, thus giving it more weight. Funny enough, it also concurrently softens hair.
Silicones lubricate and coat the hair shaft, and this makes it easier to comb and detangle hair. Meanwhile, they help nutrients enter the hair shaft.
Disadvantage of silicones
If you use heavier weight silicones, it can weigh hair down, and this makes some hair types to appear greasy. This is often a problem for slightly wavy or straight hair. If your hair type if curly or kinky, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Another disadvantage of silicones is that the build-up of non-soluble silicones can cause long-term damage to hair. For example, only co-washing causes build up on hair, and the coat of silicones prevents proteins, moisture, minerals, and good oils from entering the hair shaft. This leads to drier hair that breaks easily. This is why it is important to buy products containing only contain water-soluble silicones if you only co-wash.
But, is silicone dangerous?
Yes, silicone has its downsides. However, there’s nothing inherently dangerous about silicone. First, it is not toxic and is completely safe to apply to hair because it has no negative impact on physical health.
Its strongest downside perhaps is its ability to affect the appearance and strength of your hair. It could probably lead to hard-to-remove build-up, dryness, and weighty hair.
You can however avoid all these issues by reducing the amount of silicone you use on your hair. You can use just a little quantity of product per time or reduce how often you use silicone products per week.
Different kinds of silicones and what to look out for
Even if you go looking, it will be difficult for you to find the word “silicone” in the ingredient list of your conditioner or shampoo. This is because there are so many types of silicone and they all have different names.
However, as a rule of thumb, any ingredient ending in “-cone” is a form of silicone. And the higher on the list that ingredient is listed, the higher the percentage of it is in that product.
I recommend using silicones that are lighter weight because they are less prone to build up than the heavier weight ones.
So when purchasing hair care products, look for a “breathable” silicone like cyclomethicone, a water-soluble and lightweight silicone type that is easily washed out of hair.
As much as possible, avoid hair care products containing dimethicone and amodimethicone because they are more heavyweight and its takes multiple sessions with a clarifying shampoo to wash them out.
A lot of hair care products that label themselves as “silicone-free” are actually not silicone-free. This is because most of them mean that they don’t contain any bad silicones.
If you truly want to ensure that your hair product is silicone-free while not losing out on hydration and frizz control, use plant-based oils and other natural ingredients that offer an alternative way of nourishing hair and leaving it with the same shiny look.
Some of these plant-based oils include Shea butter, aloe vera, and jojoba oil.
It is your decision what to put in your hair for its nourishment. So, you choose whether you want to use silicone hair care products or not.
But here is my advice.
If your hair is thick and coarse, it will certainly benefit from silicone use. If you are however worried about the long-term effects of the substance, cut down your usage by applying only a small amount of product or using products only once a week.
And then you have the option of going silicone-free.
Whatever your choice, I hope that you end up with your dream of long, beautiful, healthy hair.