What are silicones?
When I first started my hair journey, I was having such dry hair no matter what I did. In my quest to find out what was wrong, I stumbled on the term silicones, cone-free, water-soluble cones, etc. The term ‘cones’ are just an abbreviation of the word Silicones.
So, what are silicones?
They are artificial substances derived from silicon and their basic structure is made of repeated units of silicon, oxygen, hydrogen and other chemical elements. oxide. They are extremely versatile substances and occur in different forms. Some of their chemical properties include:
- High thermal resistivity. This is why most heat protectants contain silicones.
- Thermal stability (constancy of properties over a wide temperature range of −100 to 250 °C).
- The ability to repel water and form watertight seals. This is also why most products that fight frizz and humidity contain silicones.
- Excellent resistance to oxygen, ozone, and ultraviolet (UV) light.
They can be classified based on their solubility into
- water-insoluble silicones e.g amodimethicone, dimethicone, dimethiconol, phenyl trimethicone, cyclomethicone; etc
- water-soluble silicones e.g PEG-modified dimethicone, dimethicone copolyol, etc
Despite the fact that it is water-insoluble, amodimethicone has been found to resist the formation of build up, and most users have reported excellent results with products containing amodimethicone, even if they use a shampoo-free regimen 1
So, what are the benefits of silicones?
- Silicones help the hair feel softer
- They help reduce frizz and prevent reversion after styling to some extent.
- They can also make it easier to comb the hair i.e they provide slip.
- Some of them provide heat protection. Some of them also increase shine and glossiness. Help hair dry faster.
- They provide UV protection.
- Effective at sealing in moisture.
And the cons of using silicones
- I have learnt that due to their effectiveness at sealing in moisture, they can also prevent moisture and other products from entering the hair leading to dryness. This is especially as a result of regular or daily use. I think this might be one reason I was experiencing severe dryness at the beginning of my healthy hair journey, no matter what I did with my hair.
- They also have the capability of weighing down hair if used in excess.
- They give the hair a coated feeling.
- They can easily result in product build up. This in itself is not so damaging. However, the insoluble silicones usually require shampoos containing surfactants like Sulfates and cocamidopropyl betaine to remove them from the hair. Regular use of Sulfate-containing shampoos strip the hair of moisture and oil in addition to damaging the hair follicle. Water-soluble silicones, on the other hand, can more readily be washed off with sulfate-free hair cleansers/shampoos.
- As much as possible, avoid silicones. If you stay away from silicones, you will not need to use a sulfate shampoo.
- However, if you can’t avoid silicones or your hair likes them, try to use products containing water-soluble silicones.
- When using insoluble silicone-containing products, use them in small amounts.
In my personal experience, products containing water-insoluble silicones are more common than products without silicones OR those with water-soluble silicones. In addition, you might find that your hair loves silicones. I now think that my hair has a love-hate relationship with silicones. When my hair is freshly washed, it makes my hair sleek and shiny. However, after a while, they even make my hair drier than usual.
Do you use silicones? Or you avoid them? Or you haven’t taken any notice before now?
- What is Cetrimonium Chloride? (Naturallycurly.com)
- What’s the Scoop on Silicones? (Naturallycurly.com)
- Water-Soluble Silicones 101 (Naturallycurly.com)
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