No, silicone is not bad for hair and it is the main ingredient in many popular hair products like 2-in-1 shampoos as the Dimethicone helps protect the hair shaft from abrasive actions. Polysiloxane silicones are also good for your hair as they help to recement the lifted cuticle scales while helping to prevent hair damage from heat.
Silicone helps a comb glide through your hair to detangle knots, and some can help smooth down your hair’s cuticles to prevent frizz which you can read about here. According to the NIH, silicone helps protect hair from UV rays and harmful airborne chemicals, and they can add body and shine to your locks. This myth is very similar to people saying that sulfates are bad for your hair, here’s a guide to sulfates and the truth behind them.
Now that you know some of the benefits of silicones for your hair, let's learn a bit more about what they are, the types that are used in hair products, and some of the ways to use it.
There are three main types of silicones found in hair products.
- Dimethicone: This is a water-soluble silicone that is often used in shampoos and conditioners, and it works as a surfactant (an emulsifying agent) which helps to smooth the hair and make it easier to detangle while reducing friction.
- Amodimethicone: Also a water-soluble silicone that is often used specifically in conditioners and styling products as it is great for smoothing the hair while adding shine.
- Cyclopentasiloxane: This is an oil-soluble silicone that is often used in heat protectants to keep your hair safer when styling with an iron or blow dryer, and it adds shine. However, this silicone is more prone to product buildup. This is especially important if you have fine or oily hair.
And silicones aren't a new technology. They've been used in hair products since the 1970's. But these silicones provided less protection as the technology behind the products were not as advanced as today's options. And because these silicone based hair products were mostly oil-soluble, they didn’t wash out easily from people’s hair leading to build up.
The difficulty getting the product out and buildup are what caused the myth that silicones are bad for your hair. But silicones today are more advanced, provide better protection to your hair, and many are water soluble so they rinse out cleanly. So don’t worry about the wise-tale, you’re likely already using hair products with silicone and didn’t even know.
While silicones have many benefits, the buildup can be problematic which is why its important to know how often to wash your hair so you can remove the excess. You’ll know there’s silicone build up if your hair feels overly greasy and weighed down. If this is the situation you’re in, use a clarifying shampoo to help remove the extra silicone. For people with fine and oily hair, the excess silicone can weigh your hair down and add to the natural sebum (your hair's natural oil) causing it to look more greasy.
While you’re the only one that can really decide if you like silicone hair products, you definitely don’t need to worry about the myth that silicone is bad for your hair. Just wash with the right frequency, and if you are worried about buildup or your hair feels a little greasy or weighed down, a wash with a clarifying shampoo will do the trick! And now you know the truth behind silicones in hair products.
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