There are a lot of great hair products available to help us achieve the perfect ‘do. However, it does make you wonder if you can put too much stuff on your hair? Do certain ingredients build up over time? Silicone is a very commonly used hair care ingredient. so lets take a closer look at how it works.
How do silicones work?
While often maligned, silicones are actually one of the most effective ingredients in both hair and skin care products. Silicones work by covering hair with a thin hydrophobic (waterproof) coating. This coating serves several purposes:
- Reduces the porosity of the hair, which makes it less likely to absorb humidity (Which is why it’s great for smoothing and straightening!)
- Reduces moisture loss from the inside of the hair (Great for conditioning.)
- Lubricates the surface of the hair so it feel smoother and combs easier (Makes your hair feel slippery and less tangled.)
Will silicone build up on your hair?
It really depends on the type of silicone. There are several different silicones used in hair care that exhibit different properties.
- Cyclomethicone is one of the most commonly used silicones in hair care. It’s a volatile silicone, which means it evaporates and won’t build up on your hair. It gives a silky, smooth feel and leaves the hair with incredible slip when wet and is found in both leave-on and rinse-off products.
- Dimethicone Copolyol is a water-soluble, lightweight silicone that provides very little buildup. It is often used in conditioning shampoos.
- Amodimethicone (or silicones that have “amo”, “amine” or “amino” in their name) is a different kind of silicone that is chemically modified to stick to your hair better. That means it conditions well but it can also be more challenging to remove. Amodimethicone is commonly used in leave-in conditioners.
- Dimethicone is sometimes referred to as a silicone oil. Dimethicone coats hair, providing great shine and conditioning to the hair. However, because it’s so water insoluble, it can be difficult to remove. Additionally, this heavy coating is more likely to attract dirt and pollutants from the air, making the hair feel weighed down. Dimethicone is often found in serums and other leave-on products.
How can I deal with buildup?
Wash your hair! Any decent shampoo will wash away silicone. However, if you are a heavy user or products containing silicone (particularly those with dimethicone), you may have to lather, rinse and repeat. If you want the benefits of silicone without the weight, look for lightweight silicones, as mentioned above, like cyclomethicone and dimethicone copolyol. These ingredients won’t build up but still give you some conditioning and shine benefits.
I personally find the benefits of silicones to far outweigh any negatives. Silicones are very effective conditioners, provide great shine and can help smooth and straighten hair. If you are concerned about buildup and weigh down, be sure to look at the label to make sure you are using lightweight silicones.
Ladies, do you avoid silicones? Why or why not?