As a woman with Afro hair, I’ve always received mixed messages about silicones. Since going natural almost 13 years ago, I opted to avoid them because the information I found on them was just as complex as understanding how to take care of my hair itself! Basically, if I thought I was about to enter a minefield with an ingredient, I would find another path to walk down.
At Afrocenchix, we avoid using silicones in our afro hair products for several reasons, read on to learn more about them and make your own decisions.
What are silicones and what are they used for?
Silicones are man made polymers, they don't occur naturally and are not biodegradable. Silicones give a plastic like shine to hair and are often used in rinse out applications. Though silicones are less harmful to the environment that plastics and polyethylene microbeads, it isn't ideal to rinse silicones out of your hair and into the ocean each times you shampoo and condition your hair. As silicones aren't biodegradable, they remain in the oceans and affect marine life.
Besides the type that Nicki Minaj and the Kardashians use to enhance their curves, there are many variants of silicones used in hair and skin care for protection against moisture loss. Often used in shampoos, conditioners and styling products to help create the coveted “slip” for detangling, silicones give hair a silky shine.
What problems do silicones cause?
In terms of being harmful or not, the types of silicones used in afro hair care products are considered to be safe for human use and supported by scientific research. Silicones were developed in the 1950s and are produced by a chemically heavy process. So, the shine that they give is synthetic and results from the effect of plastic. While safe for us, some silicones have been found to affect animals that can’t digest them.
Silicones can make Afro hair appear dull and lifeless with prolonged use due to build-up which weighs hair down. They can hold dirt and prevent moisture absorption which can lead to weakened afro hair.
For co-washing curly girl method lovers (it's best to use a sulphate-free shampoo), silicones are not ideal as they will leave hair feeling weighed down and looking dull because the silicone coating attracts debris and dirt. Silicones prevent water, conditioner, moisture and nutrients from penetrating the surface, causing the hair to become brittle and break.
How to spot silicones in Afro Hair products
On hair product labels, silicones are listed as:
- Dimethicone Copolyol
- Phenyl trimethicone
- Dimethicone copolymer
- Can also include ‘amo,’ ‘amine,’ or ‘amino’ or ending in -siloxane
- Usually, have -cone at the end of them
- Pro Tip: The further up the list, the higher the percentage
What we use instead
In our award winning Afro Hair care products, we use ingredients such as wheatgerm oil (fine for the gluten intolerant!). You can find this in Seal which is great for locking in moisture to dry Afro hair.
Find out more about the Afrocenchix afro hair care product range and our natural ingredients.
4 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Afro Hair Products