Here’s the scenario: You splurge on an expensive shampoo and conditioner in the hopes that it will transform your dry, brittle locks into silky smooth tresses. And it works! For a few weeks, your hair feels as soft as a cloud and shines like a diamond. But after a month or so of using your new shampoo and conditioner, your hair starts to revert back to its former dull, dehydrated appearance. A few more months go by and you find that your hair is even worse off than it was before. What gives?
If this sounds depressingly familiar, the silicones in your hair care products might be to blame. While often prized for their ability to add instant smoothness and shine to hair, the long-term use of silicones has been known to cause a host of hair problems (think dry, brittle strands and scalp irritation).
Thankfully, there’s a simple fix: switching to a silicone-free shampoo and conditioner. Unlike their silicone-based counterparts, silicone-free hair care products are said to enhance shine and smoothness with natural moisturizing ingredients.
Unsure if you should be using a silicone-free shampoo and conditioner? Read on to learn about the benefits of going silicone-free — plus, how to find the best silicone-free shampoo and conditioner for your tresses.
In case you need a quick refresher, silicones are the plasticky polymers found in everything from caulk to breast implants. In hair care products, silicones are coveted for their ability to add instant smoothness and shine to damaged hair, and they’re also great at detangling stubborn knots.
While silicones might seem like a helpful hair care ingredient, they come with some pretty negative drawbacks. For starters, silicones coat your strands with a heavy film that weighs hair down and prevents other beneficial ingredients from penetrating the hair shaft. This heavy film can also build up on the scalp and leave behind a greasy residue, leading to over-washing that further dries out your hair.
Another problem with silicones is that they may be harmful to the planet. Studies have shown that silicones are bioaccumulative, which means they build up in the environment and don’t break down easily. As a result, many people prefer to use natural shampoos and conditioners that are free from silicones and other synthetic ingredients.
Spotting silicones in your shampoo and conditioner can be tricky because they can go by many names. As a general rule of thumb, most ingredients that end in “cone” are silicones. Some silicones also end in “oxane.”
Here are a few common names of silicones to look out for:
If you want to avoid silicones in your hair care routine, you’re in luck. With more and more hair care companies moving towards all-natural ingredients, it’s easier than ever to find a silicone-free shampoo and conditioner that works for your hair.
Still unsure if nixing silicones is the right move for you? We’ve rounded up the top eight benefits of silicone-free shampoo and conditioner that will make you want to switch ASAP.
Related: What Is Silicone-Free Shampoo?
As we mentioned above, silicones coat your strands with a thick film that, while protective, can prevent natural oils and other moisturizing substances from penetrating the hair shaft. Over time, this buildup can make your hair dry and brittle. In fact, this is the reason why many people have such a hard time breaking up with silicones. Once you stop using the product, the damage caused by the long-term use of silicones becomes increasingly obvious.
In contrast, silicone-free shampoo and conditioner bars are formulated to nourish your tresses without blocking out other hydrating ingredients. In other words, they can help you achieve a healthier mane instead of just the illusion of one.
Your hair isn’t the only part of your head that stands to benefit from a silicone-free shampoo and conditioner. If you have a sensitive or itchy scalp, you might find that some of your problems subside after using a silicone-free shampoo and conditioner. That’s because silicones can build up on the scalp and suffocate your hair follicles, causing inflammation and persistent flakes. Therefore, it stands to reason that a silicone-free formula can help improve overall scalp health. And as they say, good hair starts at the scalp!
Ah, frizzy hair. If you’re anything like us, it’s the bane of your existence. Whether you live in a humid climate or have naturally dry and frizzy locks, it may seem like silicones are the only thing keeping your curls or waves from looking like a disheveled mess. But thankfully, silicones are far from the only ingredients that can help fight frizz. Silicone-free formulas, like our plant-based shampoo bars, contain natural ingredients (such as coconut butter and glycerin) to help lock in moisture and tame your poofy, frizzy mane. Basically, silicone-free products make it possible to reap all the moisturizing benefits of silicones without the long-term consequences.Shop Our Silicone-Free Shampoo Bars
If you’re a Curly Girl Method devotee, then you know that silicones are a big no-no for your hair. Although they work wonders at detangling stubborn curls, some silicones can start to weigh your hair down, making your well-defined curls appear lifeless and flat. Enter our silicone-free hair care products. On top of being Curly Girl Method approved, our shampoo and conditioner bars are packed with botanical ingredients that help restore moisture to your locks without diminishing definition.
Silicones can build up on the hair cuticle over time, increasing the need for more frequent hair-washing. Thicker silicones, such as dimethicone and amodimethicone, are particularly difficult to rinse out and often require a clarifying shampoo. Using a clarifying shampoo too often can strip your hair’s natural oils and exacerbate psoriasis, eczema and other skin conditions.
If you’re trying to preserve your hair’s natural oils by going longer between washes, then you’re better off switching to a silicone-free shampoo. In fact, we’ve heard many of our customers say that our silicone-free shampoo and conditioner bars have helped them go longer between washes, saving them money and water in the process.
Another reason to break up with silicones? They're not biodegradable, which means they wash down your drain and end up in the environment where they accumulate inside wildlife. Silicone, like plastic, doesn’t biodegrade because it’s a relatively new material, and bacteria haven’t evolved to break it down through natural processes.
For a more Earthling-friendly hair care routine, switch to our solid shampoo and conditioner bars. Not only are they free from silicones and made with plant-based ingredients that readily biodegrade, they also come without the wasteful plastic bottle. Plus, they ship entirely plastic-free!Shop Our Silicone-Free Conditioner Bars
When you spend a small fortune on your hair, the last thing you want to do is use products that damage your new color-treated strands. Silicone-based products may increase the need for frequent washing and clarifying shampoos, making color fade faster from hair. If you recently visited a salon, we recommend using our silicone-free shampoo bars to protect your strands. Our shampoo bars are formulated for all hair types, and are gentle on color-treated hair.
There are literally hundreds of silicones, and not all of them are created equal. The ones that tend to drum up the most controversy are non-water soluble silicones, such as dimethicone and amodimethicone. That’s because non-water soluble silicones are notoriously difficult to wash out in the shower and more likely to cause buildup on the scalp compared to water-soluble silicones.
If you don’t want to bother memorizing the entire list of “good” (water-soluble) and “bad” (non-water soluble) silicones, you can make things simple by reaching for a silicone-free shampoo and conditioner. That way, you can skip the silicones altogether and rest easy knowing that your hair care products aren’t harming your hair or the planet.
Ready to nix silicones from your hair care routine? That’s great! Before you whip out your credit card, though, it’s important to keep in mind that not all silicone-free hair care products are created equal. For best results for your hair, try to also avoid products with sulfates, parabens, preservatives and fillers.
In general, a good silicone-free shampoo and conditioner should tick off the following boxes:
Eliminating silicones from your hair care routine can be slightly frustrating in the beginning, but we assure you that the benefits of silicone-free shampoo and conditioner are well worth it in the end. Once you start seeing the difference in your hair and scalp, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using silicone-free products earlier.
Our number one tip for transitioning to a silicone-free hair care routine is to give your hair enough time to adjust. It’s simply unreasonable to expect your new shampoo and conditioner to immediately undo months (maybe even years) of silicone-induced damage in a matter of days or weeks. Ideally, you should give your silicone-free products at least three months to work their magic.
Before using your new silicone-free shampoo and conditioner, it may also be helpful to start with a clarifying hair wash. A clarifying treatment will help remove any silicone buildup from your hair, allowing the natural ingredients in your silicone-free products to penetrate the hair shaft.
Tip: Skip the big plastic bottle of clarifying shampoo and use a DIY clarifying shampoo instead. On top of saving money, you’ll also divert another plastic bottle from a landfill.
Although silicones can do a great job at making your hair look shiny and soft, it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Once you stop using them, your hair’s underlying “issues” will surface once again — except this time, they’ll be a lot worse than before.
Thankfully, at The Earthling Co., we offer a variety of silicone-free shampoo and conditioner bars to restore the natural balance to your scalp and hair. Our solid bars are made with the best plant-based ingredients to nourish your tresses without weighing hair down. Whether your hair is curly, coily, wavy or straight, we know you’re going to love the results!
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