If you have skimmed through the label of your shine-boosting shampoo while waiting for your conditioner to work in the shower, you have probably come across an ingredient called silicone. A popular ingredient used in many hair care products, silicones are mineral-based, man-made polymers that lightly coat your hair shaft when used. They are water-resistant in nature and are thus used in many hair products that are aimed at controlling frizz caused due to humidity.
Silicones also help retain moisture in your hair shaft and keep your tresses hydrated and soft. They are especially good for people with highly porous hair who struggle to maintain hydrated tresses for long, as the silicone can coat the shaft and avoid moisture leakage. The extreme popularity of silicones in daily hair care products has also given way to salon services that offer a more permanent form of silicone hair treatment; and here’s everything you need to know about it…
- Benefits of silicone hair treatments
- What to expect from a silicone hair treatment
- Types of silicone hair treatments
- How to care for silicone treated hair
- Potential side-effects of silicone hair treatments
- Safe alternatives to silicone hair treatments
- FAQs about silicone hair treatments
Benefits of silicone hair treatments
Silicone hair treatments focus on coating your hair with the polymer to resist exposure to water and humidity damage. Because of its hydrophobic nature, you can expect the following benefits from the treatment -
1. Fills in gaps of porous hair:
High hair porosity is one of the major reasons why your hair tends to get frizzy and get split-ends. The gaps in porous hair are not able to retain moisture, leading to cuticle damage and dryness.
2. Deep conditions the hair shaft and roots:
At its core, silicone hair treatments are a deep conditioning service, turning stubborn and unmanageable hair into soft and easy-to-brush tresses.
3. Makes the surface of hair softer:
Since silicones can repel water, your post-treatment hair will avoid getting fully wet when washed and has a slippery feel to it. This enables your hair shaft to maintain closed cuticles, and makes the surface of your hair smooth and soft to touch.
4. Boosts shine in dull hair:
Silicones have a unique light-reflecting quality to them. When treated with them, your hair tends to shine under bright natural and artificial lights.
5. Keeps hair protected from environmental elements:
Think about this - if your hair has a moisture-protective coating on it at all times, it will be protected from environmental elements like humidity, pollution or even sun damage to some extent.
What to expect from a silicone hair treatment
A silicone hair treatment at the salon is similar to the regular deep conditioning treatments that you can pop in for without having to prep a lot. The procedure starts with thoroughly cleansing your hair of any previous product, dirt and oil build up.
This is followed by a hydrating conditioner to drench your tresses with a lot of moisture. Then, your hair is treated to a silicone formulation for 15-20 minutes which is then rinsed out with water. This is followed by a gentle blowout to lock in the silicone treatment and your hair is styled there after.
Types of silicone hair treatments
As seen above, a silicone hair treatment is a pretty simple and straightforward procedure. Your only job is to decide on which kind of silicone treatment you would like to go for and there are two that can be opted for according to your hair needs -
1. Water-soluble silicone hair treatment:
Water-soluble silicone treatments are done with Cyclomethicone and, as the name suggests, can be washed off with water. They are ideal for simple, keep-fit type hair treatments for fine and thin hair types to get an instant shine boost without feeling weighed down even after a couple of washes.
2. Non-water-soluble silicone hair treatment:
Non-water-soluble silicone treatments are done with amodimethicone and need a clarifying shampoo to wash it off. They are ideal for thick, curly and unruly hair that needs a lot of care in order to be manageable.
How to care for silicone treated hair
If you have opted for non water-soluble silicone treatment and want it to last longer, follow these simple tips for the same -
1. Use a sulphate and paraben-free shampoo to avoid applying harsh surfactants and preservatives to your freshly treated hair.
2. Lengthen the life of your silicone treatment by picking daily use hair products that also contain silicones in them. Look for ingredients like PEG-modified dimethicone, cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, dimethicone, and amodimethicone in your shampoos and conditioners.
3. Treat your tresses with a silicone-based deep conditioning mask at least once a week to replenish the silicone layer on your hair while also deeply hydrating it at the same time.
Potential side-effects of silicone hair treatments
While there are no direct side effects of a silicone hair treatment, there are some issues that can affect certain hair types; namely -
1. Buildup in the long run:
In recent years, the importance of a clean and healthy scalp has been prioritised to enhance hair health. As such, an ingredient that tends to build up on your scalp over time does not sit well with the hair care community. Silicone build-up is difficult to deal with and can lead to issues like undernourished hair roots and hair fall after long-term use.
2. Difficult to wash off:
Even with clarifying and detoxing formulas, it can be pretty difficult to get rid of silicones from your hair. This can lead to the ineffectiveness of other nourishing ingredients you apply on your hair as they cannot get past the layer of silicone. This is especially true with hair serums and oils that work by penetrating your hair, but cannot do so because of the silicone coating. This is why silicone treatments are often avoided by people who like to have an elaborate hair care routine with a lot of nourishing products in it.
3. Add a lot of weight to hair:
While silicones’ volumising properties can be beneficial for curly and kinky hair, they can make fine and thin hair greasy and weighed down. This is because silicones themselves have a heavy molecular weight and since they sit on the surface of your hair, they can weigh down your tresses, especially with long-term use.
Safe alternatives to silicone hair treatments
If the cons of silicone hair treatments seem to outweigh the pros for your hair type, there are some alternative salon services that can give you similar results, but without worrying about build-up -
1. Keratin treatments:
Keratin is a kind of essential protein that is required to maintain strong and frizz-free hair. The procedure involves treating your hair with a keratin solution and sealing it in with heat to give you straighter-looking, shiny hair.
2. Relaxing treatments:
Hair relaxers are often used on curly hair to help deeply hydrate and relax the curl pattern. They help add shine and glossiness to your hair as well.
3. Glossing treatments:
Hair glossing is often recommended for colour-treated hair that is suffering from fading pigment and dullness. But they can also be opted for virgin hair to add shine and gloss to the base hair colour.
FAQs about silicone hair treatments
Q. Do silicone treatments retain natural curl definition?
A. Unlike other popular hair treatments, silicones do not disrupt your hair’s natural curl pattern and help maintain it. In fact, mineral-based silicones are able to deeply hydrate porous and coarse, curly hair by filing in the gaps and coating the shaft to avoid moisture loss.
Q. Are silicone hair treatments safe for the scalp?
A. Yes, silicone hair treatments can be safely applied to the scalp. A layer of silicone coating can avoid your roots and hair from getting tangled, while also alleviating dryness and rough texture.