We’re delving into one of the hair care industry’s most alluring but tricky ingredients: silicone. For sleek, glossy and silky hair, silicones are adored by brands and consumers for their ability to transform the hair’s appearance, but the clue is in the word “appearance.” Your hair may look healthier but looks can be deceiving. Read on to find out what silicones are, why they are used in hair products, and why Hårklinikken avoids including them in our formulas.
What are silicones?
Technically speaking, silicones are heat-resistant, rubber-like polymers derived from natural resources like quartz and sand. They are often used in hair products (shampoos, conditioners and styling products) for their ability to smooth, detangle, condition and enhance shine. Not-so-technically speaking, they are like raincoats for hair; sealing the hair's cuticle.
There are several types of silicones:
- Water-soluble: Water-soluble silicones dissolve more easily in water and leave less buildup.
- Non-water-soluble: A non-water-soluble silicone cannot be removed or penetrated with water and can create the infamous sticky sensation on your strands and weigh down your hair. These silicones are used to reduce frizz and flyaways while softening the hair.
- Evaporating: These silicones evaporate from the hair as they dry. They are added to formulas to help with product coverage in hair, and then they quickly disappear.
Why are silicones used in hair products?
Silicones are used in hair products mostly for cosmetic purposes to make the hair look and feel healthier than it really is.
Are silicones bad for your hair?
Silicones can help certain hair types become more manageable, look shinier and feel more hydrated. However, they aren’t a wise long-term addition to your routine. Because some silicones can form a barrier around the hair follicle (and a highly effective one at that), overuse can eventually lead to buildup as said barrier begins to permanently coat the hair. If overused, non-water-soluble – and even some water-soluble – silicones often leave a residue on the hair that can lock in substances like oil, dirt and dead skin cells, making the hair look dull and dry while preventing beneficial ingredients from penetrating your strands.
Where it becomes tricky is removing the buildup. These synthetic compounds can be difficult to wash out of hair, which further prevents strands from becoming properly moisturised. This can cause your hair to respond in one of two ways:
- It will become dry and brittle, thanks to the barrier locking out moisture.
- It will look greasy as the scalp tries to produce more oil to make up for the deficit.
Over time, this buildup often leads to scalp conditions, hair thinning or hair loss if not properly cleansed. If you’ve ever struggled with buildup at your roots and dry-looking ends, your hair feeling heavy and losing lift, or even flaking in your strands, silicones could be to blame.
The conclusion: avoid silicones if possible. And if you choose to use them, do so in moderation, opt for water-soluble silicones, and have a good cleansing routine.
How do I tell the difference between silicones?
If you want to spot them on the product label, keep in mind that the higher a silicone is listed on the label, the greater its concentration in the formula. Here’s a list of water-soluble and non-water-soluble silicones to look out for.
Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
Dimethicone PEG-8 phosphate
Do Hårklinikken products contain silicones?
No, all Hårklinikken products are silicone-free. While it is clear that silicones do provide the benefit of coating the hair shaft to make it appear smoother, softer and shiner, we believe this to be a surface-level, cosmetic fix. Our products are formulated with ingredients that can achieve all the same or more benefits, while additionally protecting and nourishing your hair rather than coating it. Additionally, every Hårklinikken product can be easily washed away without leaving buildup.