Is There Silicone in Your Shampoo?

woman with shiny hair on the beach

Let me tell you a little story about my hair.

I know right.  Who cares about my hair?  But this story has a point.

I had really oily hair for the longest time.  I had to wash it everyday.  And in my mid-twenties, I started using a more natural brand for my hair and my skin and I learned that you really shouldn’t wash your hair everyday if you don’t have to.  Washing it everyday strips the natural oils and pushes your hair into overdrive, which can make it even more oily, or strip it of moisture altogether and turn you into a frizz ball.

So I tried transitioning to washing my hair every 2 days.  Well, it was a good thing that I lived close to the school during this period (I was a graduate student doing my master’s degree) because I would sometimes WALK HOME mid-day because my hair was such an oily mess (even in a ponytail) that I had to go home and wash it.  I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

So my “just let your hair get used to the new 2-day wash routine” experiments failed.

What Does Silicone Do To Your Hair & Your Body?

Most clarifying shampoos use sulfate salts, and work by stripping your hair of silicones, along with the outer keratin layer (eventually) and all the oils on your scalp. One of two things results:depending on the shampoo, it either produces MORE silicone to compensate for stripping your hair, or it leaves your hair feeling like straw.

Silicones and their by-products are generally used to make a product feel soft. Largely found in hair and skin products, they give “shine” and coat the hair and skin as a plasticizer.

The problem with these chemicals is that they are occlusive which can prevents the skin from performing its natural functions. They can also weigh down the hair and cause damage over time.

Silicone-derived emollients do not biodegrade and are often linked to tumor growth and skin irritation.

How to Identify Silicone in Shampoo & Conditioner

If you are checking the ingredients label on your shampoo and conditioner, you won’t see the word “silicone”.  If you want to be sure that you are using silicone free shampoo & conditioner, then make sure that none of these ingredients are on the product label.

  • Dimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Amodimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Phenyl Trimethicone
  • Simethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Trimethylsiloxyilicates
  • Dimethicone copolyol
  • Lauryl methicone copolyol
  • Polysiloxane

Other Chemicals to Avoid in Hair Products

Aside from silicone, there are other chemicals that you should be avoiding in your hair care products.

These are the things that your definitely DO NOT want in your shampoo and conditioner.

  • DEA (diethanolamine) is a pH adjuster and can cause liver damage in long term and high dose exposure.
  • SLS and SLES make your shampoo foamy.  They have been linked to skin irritation, organ toxicity, endocrine disruption, and possible cancer.
  • Parabens are preservatives that have been linked to metabolic, developmental, hormonal, and neurological disorders, as well as various cancers.
  • 1,4-dioxane is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the CDC (i.e. possibly causes cancer).  This will not be listed as an ingredient, but if your product has “fragrance” or “parfum” as an ingredient, it may be contaminated by 1,4-dioxane.

Want the full scoop on toxins in your shampoo and how to avoid all these chemical nasties?  Check out my post on certified organic hair products.

What Happens When Your Hair “Detoxes” With a Silicone Free Shampoo?

If you’ve been using a shampoo with silicone in it, then switching to a silicone free shampoo & conditioner can give your hair some “detox” symptoms.  These may include your hair feeling waxy (that’s the silicone buildup coming out) and killer dandruff.

Why does your hair detox? Some forms of silicone are not water soluble (meaning they don’t wash away in the shower) and they build up on your hair over time.  If you’ve been putting harmful synthetic chemicals onto your hair day in and day out, then when you stop you’re hair will push all the junk out.

Ranelle Ivens, a good friend of mine, wrote this Miessence Hair Care Review where she talks about her hair detox.

If you decide to switch to a silicone free shampoo, then just stick it out for 2 weeks.  After that, your hair should be glossy and gorgeous.

Best Silicone Free Shampoo & Conditioner

I’ve tried various silicone free shampoos & conditioners and my favourite brand is Miessence, hands down.

Why is that?

Lush smelled amazing and was sort of “natural” but it didn’t help my oily hair one bit.  I would still have to wash my hair every day or it would turn into a greasy mess.

Same story with The Body Shop.  Sort of natural.  No silicone.  Smells amazing.  But does it help my hair?  Nope.

Arbonne helped my oily hair for about 6 or 7 months.  It looked AMAZING and I didn’t have to wash it everyday.  However, after 6 months or so I started to get dandruff.  The dandruff shampoo made my hair oily, and the shampoo that helped with the oil levels gave me dandruff.  So that one bombed.

Miessence is the only brand that actually HELPED my hair in the long run.  I now wash my hair once or twice a week, instead of every day.  And it looks AMAZING.

Plus, Miessence’s shampoo is made with aloe vera and essential oils and very little else.  NO SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS whatsoever.  Mother Nature really does know what’s best for our bodies.

Oh yeah and one bottle lasts me 3-4 months (and my hair is halfway down my back).


I am a Ph.D. candidate at McMaster University, a twin mommy, and a health and wellness entrepreneur. I am in the process of building a sustainable online business to support my family, and helping others to build sustainable businesses themselves. Find me on Google+.

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