When it comes to safe vs bad ingredients in beauty, many exist in grey areas. Nobody can agree on whether they are okay to be part of your routine or not. Silicones, the colourless and rubber-like substance, are one such ingredient that is often debated about being safe or not. When used in beauty, silicones work as a sealant for surfaces wherein they help lock in hydration and lockout humidity, making your hair look sleek and smooth. They are also responsible for making your skin look dewy. But unlike skincare, where silicone use is yet to be unanimously frowned upon, hair care has given the ingredient a bad rep over the years.
What is the truth? Are you supposed to avoid silicones in hair care like you do parabens and sulfates? Or are certain kinds and quantities of the ingredient fine? We are laying down the truth right here…
If we were to be precise - the relationship between silicone and hair care will never be simple. How you feel about silicone depends mostly on what your priorities are. If you like your hair to look silky smooth and not get frizzy on a humid day, silicones can help out. However, this exact occlusive nature of the ingredient is what keeps any other kind of hydration from seeping into your hair. Yep, silicones are not water-soluble and can collect into a very nasty build-up over time, leaving your hair greasy and dull. This is especially bad for curly hair types that rely on constant hydration and can be weighed down with build-up like that.
Having said that, all is not lost when it comes to silicones. Yes, there are the good ones and the bad ones, which you need to be aware of.
If you are on a ‘silicone watch’, these bad silicones are best to be label-checked for and avoided:-
- cetyl dimethicone
- Cetearyl methicone
- Stearyl dimethicone
We know these are complicated to remember, so there are ways to work around them. Include a clarifying cleanser into your routine like the Tresemme Detox & Restore Combo. The formula can help eliminate silicone buildup that is not water-soluble, like the ones we saw above. If you want to avoid them altogether, opt for a totally silicone-free formula that won’t lead to a build-up in the first place. We love the wholesome range from Love, Beauty and Planet; psst…they are also free of other irritating agents like parabens, artificial dyes and fragrances!
Now, onto some good news — the ‘good’ silicones that do not cause build-up and certainly do not leave your hair a dry and brittle mess. Some of these to seek out on a product label are:
- Dimethicone copolyol
- Stearoxy dimethicone
- Behenoxy dimethicone
These water-soluble silicones do not cut-off hydration from your strands; instead, they are quite nourishing in nature. Another alternative is to opt for formulas that contain plant-based oils, but even that largely depends on your hair type. The bottom line is that while silicones can give you short term results, they are certainly not suitable for long-term use. And not all of them are ‘bad’.