Silicone build up is a NON problem.
There, I said it. If you’ve stopped using conditioners or styling products with silicones because you thought they’d build up on your hair, you can go back to them now.
Not convinced? Here me out:
What The Heck Are Silicones And Why Are They In My Haircare Products?
Silicones are derived from silica, a common mineral that makes up a huge part of the Earth’s crust. You can easily spot them on the label because they usually end in “cone” or “siloxane”:
- Phenyl trimethicone
Silicones can’t penetrate hair, they just coat it. This has several benefits
- it makes hair softer and smoother
- it makes hair much easier to style
- it seals in split ends
- it smoothes out cuticles so your hair shines more
- protect it from heat from blowdryer and styling tools
Related: Are Silicones Bad For Skin And Hair?
Why Do Silicones Buildup In Hair?
Let’s dig a little deeper into that last point. Silicones protect hair from damage by forming a protective barrier around it. Here’s how it works.
When hair is damaged, the cuticle opens, allowing moisture to evaporate. When that happens, hair becomes dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.
The protective barrier silicones create prevents that. It also protects your locks from the drying heat from your blow dryer and other styling tools.
But they can do this only if they stick to hair, obviously. And that can, overtime, leave some buildup.
How Much Buildup Do Silicones Cause?
That depends on several factors: the type of silicone you use, how much you use it, and how often.
Even so, you may never feel the buildup. I don’t. I wash my hair every other day (it’s oily, so I can’t wait too long between washes), so before I slather on a new layer of silicones-laden conditioner, the old one has already gone off the drain.
If you, instead, wait longer between washes, or like to use a ton of haircare products – rinse-off conditioner, leave-in conditioner, mask, heat-protective spray, styling mousse, and whatever – silicones will build up much faster.
You’ll notice when that happens. You hair starts feeling heavy, loses volume, and looks greasy. But it’s not damaged. It just needs a good wash.
How To Remove Silicone Buildup From Hair
The secret to easily remove silicone buildup from hair? A good old wash. Forget co-washing or no poo. That won’t work. What you need is a shampoo with surfactants.
What are they? A group of ingredients that helps water mix with oils and dirt, so they can easily be rinsed away. Unfortunately, surfactants don’t have the best reputation either. The problem? Some surfactants, like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), can be very irritating.
But here’s the thing. Something that needs to remove dirt stuck to your body can’t be too gentle. If it were, you’d have to spend ages scrubbing your body. You’d irritate your skin, and some of the dirt would still be stuck to it!
Of course, surfactants shouldn’t be harsh and irritating either. You need to find a balance. That’s why you should stay away from shampoos with sodium lauryl sulfate, and opt for gentler alternatives, like sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, or cocamidopropyl betaine.
P.S. For best results, choose a shampoo without silicones. A 1994 study has found that such a shampoo can remove up to 90% of the residue from a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner!
The Bottom Line
Good news: if you wash your hair regularly, you don’t have to worry about shampoo buildup. Fact.
Do you like silicones, or do you avoid them because you’re afraid of the buildup? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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