What are silicones?
Silicones are polymers with a chemical structure based on chains of alternate silicon and oxygen atoms. Silicones have little to no affinity with human skin or hair and are water insoluble, meaning they are very tricky to wash out.
How do they work?
Used to give your hair added shine and smoothness, silicones form a layer around the hair shaft, smothering the hair and preventing moisture from penetrating, which can lead to dryness and brittleness.
What effects do they have on hair?
Silicones create the temporary illusion of healthy hair, but as they continue to build up layer by layer, your hair gets weighed down, can appear greasy, dull and lacking the smoothness and shine that the silicones are meant to provide in the first place. Silicones coat the hair shafts giving a synthetic shine, but they mask the true condition of your hair. The most common, dimethicone, builds up, is hard to remove and prevents moisture and essential oils from getting to the hair shaft. In addition it can cause rashes, burning, itching and irritation to the hair follicles, which can initiate hair shedding.
What if Silicones and Sulfates are combined?
In an attempt to remove silicone build-up, many people resort to using shampoos that contain harsh, irritating foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). SLS strips the natural healthy oils that protect the hair and scalp, putting the skin out of balance which can lead to hair becoming dry, damaged and brittle. This then creates a vicious circle, as the hair becomes more damaged from the use of harsh detergents, more silicones are used to temporarily mask the issue and make hair appear healthier.