Silicones: The good (water-soluble) and the bad (sticky)


Are silicones good or bad? This depend on which silicone, and which kind of product: skin care, hair care or makeup. Let me break it down for you!

   I have written about the harmful SLS in shampoos; which brings me to the topic: why do we use such harsh shampoos anyway ? Why do gentler shampoos often don't manage to wash away product buildup ?

Meet the culprit: Silicones

   This is an extremely popular ingredient in hair and also skin products. Silicones are emollients, which means they coat the hair (or skin) with a film. This film smooths the skin and the hair scales and protects them from drying out in dry weather and absorbing too much moisture in humid weather. However after some time it builds up around the hair and makes it limp and matte. It coats the hair, making it hard for the conditioning substances to get through. In skin products, silicones make the skin temporarily smooth but don't actually moisturise.

Are all silicones bad?

   In case of skin products, silicones just fake that moisturised effect and do nothing for the skin's well-being. You're better off finding a silicone-free product. Remember that silicones hide under different names. The dead giveway is that all end with "cone".
   When it comes to make-up, silicones help the product glide on better. Silicones in makeup base and foundations can often block the pores.
  A small amount of "lighter" (water-soluble) silicones in hair product is fine. However hair products that rely heavily on silicones are usually disappointing in the long run. So if a product has a silicone at the top of the ingredient list, put it away.

The SLS-silicone cycle

   If you choose to use silicone-heavy hair products, you'll be forced to use SLS-heavy shampoos that will be strong enough to clean it off. As you can imagine, this is not very kind on the hair. If you have steel hair, go ahead.
   A much gentler way is to avoid anything with silicones, and this way you can use gentle shampoo.  This is great for the hair in the long run, making it healthier and usually eliminating problems with an oily scalp or dryness. You'll probably need to clarify your hair, to get rid of the old silicone buildup.
   You can choose your silicones. Some of them are easily rinsed off, some stick to your hair till hell freezes over. Stick to the water-soluble ones and you´ll be fine !

   The list below gives the names of most silicones, sorted into "safe" and "nasty"  courtesy of Jolie2601. The ingredient list of most hair products can be found online, so you can do a bit of research before buying.

Good and bad silicones in hair products


-dimethicone copolyol
-lauryl methicone copolyol
-hydrolyzed wheat protein hydroxypropyl polysiloxane
-every silicone starting with PEG

 NON-SOLUBLE IN WATER, EASILY REMOVED BY GENTLE SHAMPOOS (for eg. those based on coco betaine)

- amodimethicone (often combined with trideceth-12 & cetrimonium chloride which makes it even easier to clean away) - a very nice silicone
-beheonoxy dimethicone
-phenyl trimethicone

 NON-SOLUBLE IN WATER, HARD TO REMOVE BY GENTLE SHAMPOOS (the shampoo must be left on for a few minutes)


 NEED SULFATES TO BE REMOVE -- It's best to stay away from them.

-trimethylsilylamodimethic one
- trimethylsiloxysilicates

Photo by     

Check these out: