Dimethicone on curly hair? If you want to use it, I’m going to make you feel ok about it!
Dimethicone is the most widely used silicone in hair care. You will have noticed it on ingredients lists, no doubt.
It is also likely that you have been told to avoid applying dimethicone on curly hair for the following reasons:
- We are told that silicones sit on the outside of our hair
- They cling to it and are only removed with a harsh sulphate shampoo
- Block moisture out
- Have a reputation for simply masking damage
- Build up over time
What About The Benefits?
What if silicones have a host of benefits and much of the above isn’t true?
Silicones are synthetic, heat-resistant and rubber-like polymers derived from crystal quartz. Heat-resistant and rubber-like are the key properties.
Here are some of the benefits they are able to give our hair as a result:
- They condition
- Smooth and reduce frizz
- Protect from damage due to friction ie brushing
- Add slip to products
- Provide excellent heat protection
- Protect from UV rays
This list is incredible. This list is what we are missing out on by not using them.
I started out following the Curly Girl Method but when I stopped using silicones I noticed that my hair was feeling dry and more tangled than it ever had before.
I have since incorporated silicones back into my routine and I’ve included my favourite silicone products at the end of the post.
If you get great results from the Curly girl Method, it may mean that your hair is in good condition, it may not be porous and can handle stress well. Silicones work especially well on hair that needs extra protection.
High porosity hair in particular will benefit from silicones.
I have a quick quiz to determine your porosity level.
Dimethicone is fantastic at protecting the hair shaft from abrasive actions. When we add a layer of dimethicone to curly hair we are protecting it from environmental damage (UV) and mechanical damage (brushing, heat styling, friction) and reducing the risk of breakage from both.
Is it water-soluble?
There are different types of silicones.
Some silicones literally evaporate after a few hours (such as cyclomethicone). Others are water-soluble. They literally come off with water.
Dimethicone isn’t water-soluble.
We aren’t washing our hair with water alone. Most sulphate-free shampoos will remove dimethicone.
Some silicones adhere to the hair even more than dimethicone – amodimethicone is a good example of this that you may have seen on ingredients lists. It can be removed with a clarifying shampoo – one that contains sulphates.
A quick note on amodimethicone. This is a ‘clever’ silicone. It attaches itself to the parts of your hair that are damaged and forms a layer over them. The clever part is that is repels itself – it won’t build up on areas that are already covered in amodimethicone!
Aren’t we all told to clarify every few washes, anyway?
If we know what we are putting on our hair, and we know how to take it off, we can manage these ingredients. In the meantime they are protecting our hair from stress and damage.
Does Dimethicone Block Moisture?
It does. This is why dimethicone is so effective at battling frizz.
It forms a shield around your hair and prevents moisture from reaching the strand. The thing is that they also seal moisture IN.
If we are using a leave-in conditioner and then adding a layer of dimethicone on our curly hair, the dimethicone helps to seal the moisture in.
The caveat. Your hair will still gradually lose moisture, it would do this anyway. If you are using silicones it is recommended that you wash your hair at least every 4 days. This is so that you can remove the silicone and begin the moisturising process again.
Even though it is tempting to stretch out the time between washes, trichologists recommend washing your hair this frequently for the health of your scalp, too.
In addition to the above, in order to make silicone-free products, brands often substitute them with ingredients like cationic polymers and heavy oils/butters which can build up on your hair just as much, if not more.
Are Silicones Masking Damage?
In all honesty, yes. The truth is that this is really all most hair products can achieve. The hair that we can see is not living and cannot actually be repaired.*
Masking or ‘patching up’ damaged hair is really the best we can do until we grow new hair. We can be sure to moisturise it using conditioning products to make it smooth and protein products to strengthen the structure but these are all reactive actions. They are steps we can take to make sure the damage doesn’t get any worse.
If we want to protect our hair and grow it despite split ends and damage from heat, colouring, friction, UV and brushing, silicones can help us to do this.
Where Should Silicones Be In A Routine?
You can find silicones in every part of haircare, from shampoos and conditioners to styling products and serums. It’s up to you where you decide to use them, but personally I think the closer to the end of your routine, the better.
I moisturise my hair first, add conditioning ingredients and then seal with a styling product, oil or serum that contains silicones.
If You Look Closely..
Dimethicone is so useful that it is found in lots of cosmetics and beauty products – grab some and have a look. It helps smooth pores and adds slip to the products so they go on smoothly.
This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you buy any of the products through the links provided. It doesn’t affect the price you pay and helps to run this website. Thank you x
Olaplex Part 7 Bonding Oil
I absolutely love this oil.
It can be applied to wet or dry hair. It contains dimethicone as well as the active Olaplex ingredient to rebuild broken bonds within our hair. It protects from heat styling, UV rays, friction, softens, detangles, reduces frizz and it’s alcohol free.
Bumble & Bumble Don’t Blow It Fine (H)Air Styler
One of my absolute favourites. This was one of the first products I used when I began wearing my hair wavy and it’s one of the first I went back to when I began using silicones again!
It’s a cream fro wet hair which enhances wave and curl texture and reduces frizz so that you can just let you hair air dry. They have one for fine hair and one for thick.
It contains dimethicone and amodimethicone.
Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer
A great curl defining cream which contains Phenyl Trimethicone – from the same family of silicones as dimethicone.
Other active ingredients include aloe vera to moisturise and hydrolysed wheat protein to strengthen.
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps to explain why we needn’t avoid silicones and how they can be beeficial to our hair.
*Olaplex being the exception here. It rebuilds broken bonds within the hair.
Gavazzoni Dias MF. Hair cosmetics: an overview. Int J Trichology. 2015;7(1):2-15. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450
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