Silicones are often found in the ingredients of many hair products. The natural hair community is split on the controversy of silicones as an ingredient. Some naturals don’t mind them, some avoid them completely. Silicones are not evil, but there are pros and cons to using products that contain them
- They provide great slip for detangling
- They make the hair feel smooth
- They provide protection against heat damage
- They’re great for sealing in moisture
- As sealants, they also prevent moisture from entering the hair.
- They can cause product build-up on the hair and scalp
- They are difficult to wash off or remove.
Silicones can be classed into water-soluble and water-insoluble silicones.
Water-soluble silicones can be removed by rinsing the hair with water, a mild shampoo or a cleansing cowash. Therefore, they’re less likely to cause product build up. How can you identify them in the ingredient list? They usually contain the letters PEG or PPG. Some examples are:
- Dimethicone copolyol
- Dimethicone PEG-8 Phosphate
- Dimethicone-PG Diethylmonium Chloride
- PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone
Water-insoluble silicones need to be removed with clarifying shampoos or sulphate shampoos. Sulphate shampoos are notorious for stripping and drying out the hair. Water-insoluble silicones are more likely to block the cuticles and cause build-up, leading to dull, lifeless hair over time. Some examples are:
- Phenly Trimethicone
Naturals with low porosity hair may still use them for sealing in moisture, especially if they clarify regularly. They are also great for protecting against damage during heat-styling.
So, are silicones good or bad? It boils down to choice.