Silicone substances have been used in hygiene products since the 1950s, and silicone alone has been utilized since the Stone Age for tool-making. But what is silicone? And what is the role of silicone in haircare?

Why are manufacturers using Silicone?

Silicone is accessible and relatively inexpensive for many retailers. It is commonly derived from quartz, one of the most abundant minerals on Earth. Silicone oils are used in various items, from cosmetics to the automotive industry. They distribute liquids evenly and can be odorless, thus making them a versatile ingredient.

Cosmetic silicone ingredients are created through complex chemical reactions. It all starts with silicon-based minerals, like quartz. The mineral is processed and bonded with other mixtures to make rubber-like, translucent oil polymers.

Many silicone polymers in the beauty world remain on the skin and hair strands because of their non-biodegradable nature. The adhering property of silicone offers instant smoothing, softness, thermal protection, and water-repelling effects, which makes them appealing to all. Especially those with curly or chemically-treated hair battling frizz.

The amount of silicone within a hygiene product is noted safe by the FDA, but hair professionals are now curious about long-term usage and manufacturing. Additionally, if a change in scalp health should arise, will routine use of silicone-based products be beneficial or detrimental to the user?

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The scalp is self-regulating by nature. This cycle of absorbing and distributing nutrients is essential in maintaining good health and a youthful appearance. If silicone remains on the scalp or hair strands for long periods, it can block pores, lock in unwanted material, and repel proper hydration. This is detrimental to the average head of hair. A sensitive scalp is even more susceptible to irritation and permanent follicle damage. The condition of the scalp is ever-changing. It deserves proper maintenance and preventative measures, just like the care given to teeth.

Silicone-based ingredients have various names. Here is what you need to know. The two most common forms of silicone in cosmetics are non-soluble or water-soluble.

Non-soluble Silicones

Non-soluble simply means you can not break down or penetrate with water. If you’re applying non-soluble silicones to your hair, you must be aware of the possible damage. Some shampoo and conditioner duos only contain non-soluble silicone in the conditioning treatment. These manufacturers try to counteract conditioner buildup by including harsh detergents in their shampoos. The overall effect can make hair strands brittle and susceptible to breakage. Product labels typically list non-soluble silicones with “-cone” at the end of their name.

Look for these familiar non-soluble silicones ingredients:





Phenyl Trimethicone

Cetearyl Methicone

Water-Soluble Silicones

The beauty industry has been talking about the controversial use of silicone for a while. Some manufacturers use water-soluble silicones or silicones that dissolve in water. This form of silicone is chemically altered with polyethylene glycol (PEG) or sometimes sugars.

These silicones are utilized for their familiar detangling and styling effects but are easily removed by rinsing with water or a mild detergent. These ingredients are labeled with a “PEG” in their name. They vary in molecular weight, so “PEG” is followed by a numeric label and the identifying substance.

“The following silicones should be compatible with that type of hair care routine, and should provide many of the desirable effects of silicones, such as the addition of shine, moisturizing effects, thermal protection, and color retention, without any accompanying worries about buildup and frizz.

PEG-8 (or higher) Dimethicone

Bis-PEG-8 (or higher) Dimethicone

Bis-PEG-8/PEG-8 Dimethicone

Bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane

PEG-8-PG-coco glucoside dimethicone

Dimethicone PEG-X phosphate

Dimethicone copolyol (this is an older and less descriptive designation, but may still be found on some labels).”

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-Avoid sulfate products. Silicone-based conditioners are often paired with shampoo containing sulfates. Sulfates can be too harsh for cleansing colored-treated hair and can remove pigment. They also strip the scalp of healthy oils needed to moisturize and protect the hair follicles.

-Clarify the scalp regularly with gentle cleansers. Natural ingredients are an outstanding alternative to safely remove buildup while being environmentally sustainable. Routine scalp treatments can be a great way to prevent harmful buildup and improve hair health. Talk to a trichologist about scalp treatment options before attempting any at-home treatments.

-Try minimizing heat-styling by selecting quality tools with low heat options or using heat tools less frequently. There are styling methods to add volume and maintain curls that require low heat or strategic wet-to-dry techniques.

-Opt for water-soluble silicone lubricants, or purchase only “silicone-free” haircare products to prevent synthetic buildup from ever occurring. Botanical substitutes such as seed oils, bamboo extracts, olive oil, and coconut oil extracts are replacing silicones. These moisturizers offer similar benefits while also being hypoallergenic and biodegradable.

-Talk to a haircare professional about tackling the concern of synthetic buildup and what products they recommend.


We must become ingredient-conscious. Regularly used hair products should aid the body’s natural self-regulating cycle without creating unwanted buildup. You want your hair strands to be able to absorb moisture, and nutrients must feed the scalp below.

Ingredients that have been prepared in a lab are complex. Synthetic elements, such as silicone, have the potential to be harmful. Not only are these ingredients unsustainable, but they can also potentially exacerbate scalp problems and follicle degeneration. Although the quantities of silicone and other synthetic ingredients have been deemed “safe.” It is crucial to keep in mind the effects of long-term use on the body. Naturally-derived substitutes could be the gateway to a healthier you and a healthier planet.