Cosmetic Chemistry Tidbits #2

Happy June everyone! I'm kicking this month off with another episode of Cosmetic Chemistry Tidbits. Today's post is all about SILICONE. What is it? Why are they in my hair products? What does it do to your hair? What are the different kinds of silicone? And more!

Gee, where do I start? I guess I'll start with explaining what-in terms of haircare-silicone is. Silicone comes from silica, which is actually sand! Crazy right? It gets better. Silicone is a slippery, water-binding emollient. It has great conditioning properties, and leaves your hair and skin feeling soft and silky. You can tell if a product has silicone by looking at the ingredient list; if you see a word with the suffix -cone, it's a type of silicone.

Why are they in hair products? Because they work! Silicones are very effective in shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, leave-ins, detanglers, smoothing serums, glossers, and shine sprays. They are also commonly found in makeup--primarily in foundations, concealers, primers, etc, because they leave the skin feeling smooth and supple. People talk a lot of smack about silicones, but the bottom line is: THEY WORK. They make hair soft, manageable, shiny, and can actually strengthen your hair.

Now let me talk about a few of the most commonly found silicones:
  • Dimethicone: A silicone derivative that adds shine, locks in moisture, and gives a product a very smooth creamy texture. However, dimethicone can be too heavy for some people, so keep that in mind. It can be found in mostly in smoothing creams and deep conditioners.
  • Cyclomethicone: A lighter silicone that is an emollient. It is slightly more common than dimethicone, and is used in more products, like conditoners, aerosol hairspray, shine spray, glossing serums. As with anything, be sure to use shine products sparingly.
  • Phenyl Trimethicone: A water-resistant silicone that adds a lot of shine, as well as flexability, elasticity, and heat resistance to hair. It can be found in a lot of professional shine reflecting & color correcting services, and thermal protectors.
  • Cyclopentasiloxane: An increasingly popular emollient that makes hair easier to comb through and less susceptible to breakage. It's very watery and good at breaking up other silicones, so it is often used in conjunction with dimethicone to thin it out. I personally love Cyclopentasiloxane, it's so useful and always leaves hair feeling healthy and shiny.
  • Amodimethicone: Has good conditoning properties, leaves hair feeling soft and reduces fly-aways. I see it mostly in conditioners, sometimes in leave-in detanglers too.
So I think I've covered the most common silicones, but if you have a question about something I didn't cover, please feel free to comment and I'll get back to you! I really hope this will help put your fear of 'cones to rest, because they really do help your hair. Be on the lookout for the next episode of Cosmetic Chemistry Tidbits and take care of your hair! : D