What are silicones and how do they affect your hair?
They are the shine and gloss polymers in the and haircare industry. Sounds great right- no frizz and shine! Unfortunately, there a lot of down sides to this un-natural ingredient, it is a ‘fake’ shine it fills in your cuticle and gives the appearance of a healthy hair shaft when in fact all its doing is hiding the damage and causing further damage. The shine we want is from a flat cuticle that is naturally healthy and reflects light and this is not achieved with silicones.
Silicone is like a plastic coating; it creates a thin hydrophobic film that is used as a barrier for the hair to lock in moisture and block out humidity. Even though it is meant to trap moisture in, it actually prevents moisture from penetrating the hair shaft due to that film that eventually builds up on the hair and becomes like a magnet for dirt and other ingredients. So basically, you get shine for a couple of days before it starts to weigh down the hair making it dull and lifeless then due to the lack of moisture the hair becomes brittle and could lead to breakage.
Why do silicones get such a bad rap for curls?
Silicones are bad for curls because curly hair is naturally on the dry side to start with this causes the silicones to stick to the curls. They are also harder to slide of the hair shaft due to the kinks in the hair and the naturally raised cuticle so it is more prone to build-up causing heavy flat curls.
How do we identify a silicone in a shampoo, conditioner or styling product and are they all created equal?
It is fairly easy to identify silicones on ingredient lists on your haircare bottle as their names end in cone. But what you do need to understand that not all silicones are created equal. To understand them properly they are put in to two categories; Water-soluble silicones and insoluble silicones.
Water Soluble Silicones (safe for your hair)
Cyclomethicone ( needs to be removed with a plant based surfactant )
Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
And any silicone with a peg as a prefix
In-Soluble Silicones (will cause a build-up)
Let’s take a closer look at the good and bad of them. When you need them and when you don’t.
Firstly, you should never be triple coating your locks with haircare containing silicone as stated above this is recipe of dull, brittle, heavy hair.
But there is one place where water soluble silicones can play a healthy part in your haircare regime. Heat protection, because let’s be honest many of us aren’t ready to ditch the heat with styling tools. You need a film to protect your hair from heat or else your hair will very quickly feel the affects and become dry and broken. So, in this case when picking a heat protector always remember to pick one containing a water- soluble silicone not an in-soluble silicone.
Another time where a silicone can come in handy is protecting your hair from chlorine, salt and hard water. These once again should be water soluble silicones as they can easily be removed with gentle plant-based surfactant, instead of a harsh cleansing Sulphate-based shampoo (which we know is extremely drying on the hair).
So, to recap. Water soluble silicones won’t build up if used sparingly and correctly. But never triple coat, even if they are water based.
Never use insoluble silicones, as that is a very hard habit to ditch and can quickly damage hair.
So, what can we use to gain that smooth, glossy frizz free mane?
Oils and butters are a great alternative to silicones. Here at HALO, we have invested in the highest-quality natural oils such as avocado, argan, hempseed, flaxseed and coconut that are loaded with fundamental building blocks for the hair; providing moisture and strength to the cortex which provides shine, softness and a smooth glossy mane. Good-bye plastic polymers, hello plant-based beauty.