While I know that there are many opinions about silicones, some say they are good for the hair, others say it is bad. I am on the side that believes they are bad and this is why….
but it all starts with your shampoo.
A lot of hair care companies especially the low end brands, in order to keep their product cheap, use low cost, high lathering agents to make their shampoo work, these are called sulfates. They come in many forms, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium laureth sulfate, and Ammonium lauryl sulfate, which are the most common. So you are probably wondering what is so bad about these being in your shampoo. The problem is these sulfates are VERY harsh, in fact they are also used in most household cleaners as well, such as dish detergent. These detergents are very good at removing dirt and oil. In fact they are too good, often they strip your hair of all its natural oils which will dry out the hair. Hair care companies know this, so to help fix the damage that their shampoos did to your hair they often make a coordinating conditioner full of heavy oils and silicones to coat the hair, lubricate it, and make it look healthy. But that is the key word, LOOK healthy. The funny thing is using these silicones and oil to coat the hair and make it shiney is a catch 22. Most of these silcones are not water soluable, which means that they get stuck on your hair and can build up, and that means that your conditioners and hair oils can’t fully penetrate the hair to help heal damage.
The truth is a lot silicone can be easily broken down by certain oils (like mineral oil) and other non-polar substances. But that is where the problem lies. Shampoo has a non-polar side and a polar side. So in order to remove some of that build up the shampoo needs to be very harsh, if its not the build up will just keep getting worse.
Did you ever wonder why products that contain heavy doses of silicone work to keep your hair from being a frizz disaster in high humidity. It is because when your hair is dry and damaged it pulls moisture from the air and swells up. If you put a silicone product on your hair it seals the cuticle and prevents your hair from obtaining the moisture that it needs. Sure your hair might look smooth and nice, but in reality it is still just as damaged just with a shiney coating on top.
So what should you do? Sure a lot of people say its easy, just switch to a sulfate free shampoo and a silicone free conditioner and everything will be great. But that’s not totally the case. These shampoos are more gentle and cannot remove the build up already on your hair. And I feel like a lot of times this is why people say that sulfate free shampoos don’t work for them. In order for these products to work you need to get rid of the build up on your hair and also look at your styling products. If you are using a smoothing serum that is straight silicone and sulfate free shampoos your hair will always feel oily and heavy. So the first thing you need to do is remove all the build up. You can do this easily by mixing 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm filtered water. Put this on your hair after you shampoo let it sit a minute and rinse with cold water. (Don’t worry if there is a light vinegar smell it will go away when your hair is dry!) Once you remove the build up now switch to the sulfate free shampoo. Also keep in mind that in the beginning you hair and scalp might feel a little oily but after a few weeks your scalp will get used to not needing to produce as much oil as it had to when you were using the sulfate shampoo and the oily feeling will go away.
Once you rebalance your hair and start using more gentle products your hair should become less frizzy, less staticy, and healthier, without silicone! And the shine you see on your hair won’t be a film on top it will actually be your hair that shines!
So now comes the part where i tell you what shampoos I recommend…
My absolute favorite of the moment (and not just because i love Redken) is the newest line that Redken has created called Nature’s Rescue http://www.redken.com/products/haircare/natures-rescue
Ask anyone that i talk to at my salon, I am OBSESSED. Not only is is sulfate free and silicone free but it is also paraban free! It smells amazing, and my hair has never felt better since i started using it.
If you are looking for a lower cost alternative just walk into your natural health food store and check out their products, most of their shampoos are sulfate free (and usually if they have sulfates they are made with a more gentle coconut derived sulfate) and they are all silicone free. Giavanni, Burts Bees, and Nature’s Gate make some good ones.