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Silicone Free Shampoo & Conditioner - Why?

We hear a lot in the media and from hair professionals about silicones in hair products like shampoo and conditioners. 

Forbidden under organic standards but widely included in mainstream skin and hair care, the use of synthetic volatile silicones has become more controversial since studies have raised concerns over their impact on health and pollution of the environment.

Why is silicone added to hair care products?  

Silicones coat the hair in a waterproof film to give it a silky slip, less comb resistance and a shinier appearance.  At first this may seem a boon to dry, damaged or coarse and curly hair, but their effect is simply a cosmetic cover-up which masks any problem.  Silicones don’t actively improve the underlying condition of your hair – quite the opposite in fact.  This waterproof film prevents genuine conditioning ingredients, moisture and even the hair’s own natural oils from penetrating or lubricating the hair shaft, so in reality the hidden dryness and damage gets worse.   

Birmingham based hairdresser for Nicky Clarke, Elizabeth Winters, confirms this, saying: 

“They appear to clean hair and give the feel and appearance of the hair being soft and shiny, they in fact coat the hair over a period of time which prevent moisture from entering the hair, eventually drying it out. 

It can seem a cost effective way to look after hair but the truth is that you are using more shampoo to lather up and not helping to strengthen or moisturise the hair.”

There are a few other downsides too. If you colour treat your hair that waterproof film can reduce the colour uptake along with any conditioning products you apply.  Also, heat treating or blow-drying can bake the silicone into the hair-shaft, making it particularly hard to remove.   

Silicones gradually accumulate up on the hair anyway, making it feel heavy, flat and lifeless and the only way to remove this build-up is with a strong, clarifying shampoo.  Usually sulphate based, such shampoos strip oils from the scalp leaving it prone to itching and flaking, and your hair rough, dry and out of control.  Reach for your silicone-based conditioners and serums and you know you’ll be starting the whole process over again. 

How do I find hair care products without silicone? 

Choose hair care products free of ingredients with the suffix ‘cone or siloxane like:

  • - Dimethicone
  • - Methicone
  • - Cyclomethicone
  • - Cyclopentasiloxane
  • - Trisiloxane

NB. Don’t be confused by the unfortunate similarity in name to silicon (no e). Silicon is a natural and abundant earth element which combines with oxygen in the air to form minerals like quartz, mica and silica. Likewise, Silica is taken up by plants and happens to be a major hair strengthening mineral. It is present in the herb horsetail - which we use in both our shampoos!

Do silicone free shampoos & conditioners work on curly and coloured hair?

Yes they do. Many natural and naturally derived ingredients offer a proven alternative to silicone. And plant oils like coconut, crambe seed and jojoba as well as natural silicone alternatives like betaine, lecithin and liquid shea butter work very well on all hair types. It may involve a little trial and error to find the non silicone shampoo or conditioner that works for you, but there are many out there that perform.  

This is what one customer said about our Prebiotic Coconut Conditioner: "I suffer with a dry scalp, and after two uses, I have noticed a significant difference. With naturally curly hair, I'm able to get a comb through!" 


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