Silicones – what are they and do they do good?

Healthy hair in its natural state is hydrophobic, this means it repels water/moisture. The cuticle layer protects the internal hair shaft with its hydrophobic properties, a combination of lipids and proteins. 

However the cuticle’s natural hydrophobic layer is often broken down by chemical and thermal treatments along with mechanical and environmental damage causing the hair to be hydrophilic. This in turn leads to dryness, damage and poor condition.

This is where silicone polymers come in handy, they can be thermally stable and help to restore the hydrophobic state of the hair, by forming a thin veil over the cuticle.

Basically filling in the gaps to prevent damage.

The most popular silicone used by manufacturers is “Dimethecone”, this was widely used in 2 in 1 shampoos over 20 years ago.

This silicone got a bad wrap due to its heavy molecular content and over-use proved unsuccessful due to the difficulty in being soluble and removable leading to product build up.

Moving on 20 years, Dimethecone is still widely used today but is now mixed with more modern lightweight silicones to give a massive variety of different options for manufacturers to produce many different types of shampoos, conditioners, treatments and styling products.

There are so many different ways to use silicones polymers within hair products and some of the benefits of different types are:

Methicone groups = protect against abrasive actions such as wet/dry brushing 

Phenyl groups = enhanced shine & silky smoothness 

Amino groups = re-cementing cuticle scales

Alkyl groups = increasing body/volume

The chances of you finding a conditioning or styling product without silicones will be infinitesimal.

In Conclusion

With most hair products now containing silicones, my advice to you is to choose wisely. You know the type of hair you are working on and how you want hair to feel, perform and react to these products, so this may be a process of elimination.

Always read the label and get a proper understanding of what you want the product to do. The more Dimethecone the heavier the product, be mindful. The higher up the ingredients list the more of that silicone will be present.

Some shampoo’s contain silicones but the jury seems to be out on this one!! 

Being that silicones are hydrophobic and can have a heavy molecular weight, a build-up could happen, so be aware. In my opinion there is no need for heavy silicones within shampoos but you may disagree.

Start with small amounts and add if needed.

Big Love 


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