Understanding Silicones in Hair Products

One struggle of being a hairdresser is one product does not fit all clients. I would love it if that were the case. I have heard over and over, this product worked but now it doesn’t. Over the years it has become easier to accommodate clients by understanding product ingredients. Some simple ways to look at ingredients is to put them into 5 categories:

Surfactants, Silicones, Proteins, Hold & Preservatives

Diving into Silicones, we need to understand that they were first created to help fight frizz and help detangle the hair. There are good silicones which are water soluble and bad silicones which are not water soluble. If the ingredient is not able to be removed with shampoo and water, then build up is going to happen on the outside of the hair strand. With the buildup present, water will not be able to penetrate the cuticle, causing dehydration and brittle hair. This can also cause: dull, lifeless, stringy, low volume, greasy hair.

Looking on the ingredient list a silicone is going to end in: cone, conol, xane, or silane.  These types of silicones are usually non water soluble. Dimethicone, Ceryl Dimethicone, Trimethylsilylamodimethicone, Aminopropyl Triethoxysilane are just a few of the examples. In order to avoid build up on your hair when using these silicones, you will need to shampoo with:  Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, Sodium C14-17 Alkyl Sulfonate (Olefin Sulfonate), or Cocoamidopropyl Betaine.

A water soluble silicone is going to include in the name PEG or PPG. Some examples are: Quaternium-80, Quaternium 86, PEG-8 Distearmonium Chloride PG-Dimethicone, Silicone Quaternium-1, Silicone Quaternium-2, Silicone Quaternium-2 Panthenol Succinate. These silicones are easily rinsed out of the hair with water and cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, other mild surfactants, or conditioner washing.

If you feel like a product is not working properly, read the ingredient list to figure out which silicone is in your product. Then look at your shampoo and determine if you are rinsing off the silicone from your hair.

Every person takes to an ingredient differently, so make sure to investigate your product ingredients, understand what works best for you and adjust as needed. You may just have the perfect product for your hair, you simply are not washing the ingredients completely off of your hair.