Hair Care

Are Silicones Bad for Hair?

Believe it or not, but the man-made chemical silicone can be found in hundreds, if not thousands, of household products. From toilet cleaners to fabric conditioners, silicone is a handy substance that helps with cleaning and maintenance.

Even if labels of silicone-containing products say that they are effective and worthy to be used in your curly hair, does that mean you should trust them?

Let’s take a look at silicones, why curly-haired people use them, and why those same curly-haired people (and probably anyone else) should avoid them.

What Are Silicones in Hair Products?

Silicones are man-made chemicals that get put in many different types of hair care products. They have been part of hair products since the 1970s, and while some have been developed to be safer and better, the chemicals still spark some worry among curly-haired people.

There are several different kinds of silicones such as cyclomethicone and PEG-12. Basically, if you see ingredients with “cone” or “oxane” at the end, you can assume they are silicones.

What Do Silicones Do?

You can find silicones in so many hair products because the chemical serves to relax curlier hair and also provide some more shine. Additionally, they can help detangle while also condition and provide a glossier texture.

Silicones in hair products can trap moisture and ensures that it stays in your hair, thus providing its many benefits.

Should You Even Use Any Products with Silicones in Them?

Since silicone can trap the moisture in your hair and make it feel smoother and silkier, it also prevents other healthier ingredients from getting in and doing their job. With time, this can lead to harmful effects on your hair—some of which include hair that feels dry, looks a bit duller, and more prone to breakage.

Additionally, thicker silicones, which are more often found in leave-in hair products, can attract more dirt and debris to your hair. Thus, it makes your beautiful curls feel heavier and less natural.

What’s worse, is that there are silicones in hair products that are not water-soluble, making them difficult to remove from washing regularly. Instead, you have to use a clarifying shampoo to remove the silicones entirely.

Are There Any Toxic Chemicals in Silicones?

There are no toxic chemicals found in silicones. Therefore, if you use silicone-containing hair products, they cannot harm you in any physical way. However, they can harm your hair. Still, all hair is different for each person, so yours may react differently to the silicone chemicals.

Is There a Safer Way to Using Hair Products with Silicones?

If you have not experienced the negative effects of silicones in your hair products, then there may be no need to quit. However, many curly-haired people like to make the switch in products before they see any negative results as a precaution.

A woman holding her hair

If you don’t want to make the switch in hair care products (or you want to use the rest of the bottle you paid for), try using a little at a time. The more silicones that are present in your hair, the more moisture gets blocked out and dirt gets attracted in. you can also reduce the number of times you use the product to be safer.

What Are Some Alternatives to Silicone-Containing Hair Products?

The best alternatives to silicone products are to find other products that do not contain any of the harmful chemicals. Some example products include:

• Matrix Biolage Cleansing Conditioner for Coarse Hair
• Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield
• Verb Hydrating Conditioner

Of course, if you want to go the more natural path, you can always use plant-based oils. They may not have the same properties as silicones, but they are a healthier alternative. Try oils like shea butter and aloe vera.

How Can I Make Sure that My Hair Products Are Silicone-Free?

Surprisingly, there are many hair care products that claim to be silicone-free. However, this is usually a marketing ploy they can get away with because they don’t include the “harmful” silicones. Still, you should be on the lookout to avoid getting duped.

To be as safe as possible, look for products with water-soluble silicones because the chances of finding a true silicone-free product without doing some digging or research are slim.

Are There Any Good Silicones?

When you are looking for hair products, keep in mind that there are a few “good” silicones. Rather, these are the water-soluble silicones that don’t stay in your hair for as long as the non-water-soluble silicones.

Stearoxy dimethicone and behenoxy dimethicone are both water-soluble silicones that are generally safe to use. So, while you shop for hair products, keep in mind that these are the ones that would cause little to no damage over other types of non-water-soluble silicones.

How to Decide if You Should Stay Away from Silicones

Whether you stay away from silicones or not is your decision. Sometimes, curly-haired people like the sensation of their hair when it has silicone products. Meanwhile, other people may be more concerned with the potential effects of silicones and choose to stay away.

You can also keep in mind that the harmful effects of silicones may not apply to everyone. Therefore, you can always test out silicone-containing products before committing yourself fully and find that you don’t see any negatives. Although, some of the cons of silicones can appear with time.

The Final Word

Curly-haired people are often on the hunt for products that can control and relax their curls—and even fight the frizz. The most beneficial way to accomplish this is by using hair products, but they often come with silicones that can be harmful to your hair.

With frequent use, silicones can make your hair feel too relaxed and too dull. While most people with curly hair avoid silicones, that does not mean you should. Ultimately, it comes down to your comfort with the potential harmful effects.


Hi I'm Hati and my hair is naturally very curly, obviously! I have started this blog to share curly hair stories and what I use to manage my own hair. Hopefully you will find it useful! My other main passions are food, art and animlas. I have a little cat who I love very much.

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