We need to talk about Sillicone (and the damage it is doing to your hair)

I am an advocate of using good products for your hair and skin, not necessarily the most expensive products but I do believe you get what you pay for and I strongly believe that a good quality shampoo and conditioner is a real investment for the immediate and long term condition and manageability of your hair.

The purpose of this post is to help explain the the use of silicones in the most popular hair products and the damage they do to your hair. The cheaper products we buy in the supermarket rely heavily on silicones to meet the promises they make on their labelling. Spending a few extra pounds on a well made product can really make a difference, and this article will give you the information you need to be able to make the right choice when buying products for your hair.

Silicone is a naturally derived product found in clays, dusts, sands and stone. But When mixed with other elements it becomes heat resistant and rubber like and then becomes industrially used in sealants, lubricants and adhesives and has in recent years in this monika found it’s way into face creams and cleansers, shaving products and most of all shampoos, conditioners and styling products.

Silicone based hair products make the hair feel soft, more manageable when wet and smooth frizz. When used correctly, silicones work very well. They can be excellent emollients, softeners and protectors. But long term use of the wrong silicones can cause damage to the hair and skin.

So how do we know which products are good for our hair type and which contain the right silicones to help our hair not damage it? Silicone in beauty products comes in two forms, “soluble” and “non soluble” which in turn can be described as “good” and “bad” silicones.

“Bad” Silicones are those that are non water soluble and cause a build up on the hair, which needs to be removed regularly with a shampoo that contains sulphates. Sulphates in shampoos are harmful as they strip the hair, so great for getting rid of the silicone build up but at the same time, very drying. A double whammy of damage.

Here are a list of “bad” Silicones, the first 5 in the list being the most common,
Amodimethicone, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Cetyl Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Behenoxy Dimethicone, Cetearyl Methicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Stearoxy Dimethicone, Stearyl Dimethicone, Trimethylsilylamodimetheicone.

As a basic rule – there are exceptions, see below – any ingredient listed on a product that ends in ‘cone or ‘one’ is a non water soluble silicone that will need something quite harsh to remove it from your hair and your skin.

The following are ‘good’ silicones Dimethicone Copolyol, Hydrolyzed wheat protein (Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane), Lauryl Methicone Copolyol and any Silicone with PEG as a prefix. These are water soluble and evaporate as the hair dries or is dried, they do not create a build up on your hair and are easily removed with gentle products.

The silicone coating on the hair which makes the hair feel soft and smooth is actually “suffocating” the hair and blocking moisture and protein from penetrating the hair shaft, therefore depriving it of water and nourishment and causing it to become dry and brittle. overuse of silicone based styling products combined with heated styling tools can cause “silicone burn” which makes your hair hard to detangle and leads to breakage.

If you find it almost impossible to comb your hair when wet as it is a tangled mess, and the last few inches of your hair are dry and frizzy and you think your hair is in desperate need of a cut to improve the condition, it is, but that damage has been in part caused by overuse of silicone based products sealed into your hair with the hair dryer, your straighteners or your tongs.

If your hair is dry, damaged or prone to breaking and needs moisture, it is SO important to avoid non water soluble “bad” silicones, no matter what it says on the packaging, products containing these ‘cones’ will not help to mend or repair your hair or aid recovery.

If you have frizzy hair, hair that has lost it’s smoothness, most common in fine, wavy hair, the right silicones can be miracle workers, as they are moisture resistant, light in texture and can smooth the hair and seal the cuticle to protect against the nightmare that is humidity or in the UK the dreaded “drizzle” that leads to many of us having bad hair days.

You can’t nourish your hair from the outside, you can treat it and help it along, but hair is dead. Once it leaves the hair follicle which is just under the scalp, hair dies, so when applying any product to the hair you are just coating it for pure cosmetic reasons. A diet rich in Omegas 3-6-9, good quality protein and leafy greens will help you to grow healthy hair, so it will look better once it’s dead! The irony!!

It is important to be your own INGREDIENT DETECTIVE and to spend a couple of minutes looking at the ingredients on the bottles of the products you are about to buy. I know that the financials play an important part in the decision we all make in the supermarket when we see the offers on the most popular brands, but I’ll be totally honest, if you can buy it in the supermarket don’t use it on your hair (unless it is pure, organic, virgin coconut oil, which is great on dry scalps and dry ends).

The cheaper products are a false economy, they will make your hair feel greasy within 24-48 hours and so you will wash it again and over time you will develop an itchy, flaky scalp – this isn’t dandruff – it’s a build up of silicone on your scalp creating a film so that water and moisture can’t penetrate to nourish the skin. They will also strip your colour, so if you are paying to have your hair coloured and are disappointed that it is fading quickly, have a look at the ingredients on your shampoo bottle, does it contain silicone’s and sulphates? By using a better quality shampoo and conditioner you will only need to wash your 1-2 times a week, this will make your product last 2-3 times longer, increase the longevity of your colour and massively improve the condition of your hair.

Shampoos and Conditioners make great presents. Next time somebody asks you what you want for your birthday or Christmas ask for a bottle of good quality shampoo and/or conditioner. My current favourite shampoo, conditioners and product ranges are by Kevin Murphy and Pureology, both a worthwhile investment, but hide them! Don’t leave them in the bathroom for hubby and the kids to use!

I hope you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear your comments or answer any questions you may have, just click on the “reply to this post” link under the title at the top.

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