Have you ever seen the “silicone-free” phrase, label, or stamp on a bottle of shampoo or conditioner? It’s just one of many new standards in haircare formulas these days (along with sulfate-free, for starters) that’s led to an endless range of shampoo formulations on the shelf. However, not all are created equal — and for those who have yet to learn what exactly silicones are, as well as why you may not want silicone shampoo, we’ve created an explainer to help clear things up.
Silicone-Free Shampoo Is…
Let’s start with the basics. What is silicone-free shampoo? As the name implies, a silicone-free shampoo is a shampoo formula that doesn’t contain silicones in any way, shape, or form.
Silicones are synthetic ingredients made up of silica (a plastic-like element found in sand) and other materials that have been used in haircare products for decades. Not only are these polymers a relatively cheap ingredient, but they also give hair a smoother, shinier appearance and that signature “slip” that can make hair easier to manage.
Some types of silicones can even smooth the cuticle, minimize frizz, and defend against heat damaged hair. In doing so, silicone shampoo can create a layer around the hair shaft over time.
Why You Should Use Silicone-Free Shampoo
Silicones are not created equal. While some are water-soluble — meaning they can be easily rinsed out with water — many are not, which means they can linger on a hair strand. That can lead to build-up, which can, in turn, contribute to damaged hair and prevent healthy haircare products or ingredients from penetrating as well. They’re like junk food for your hair: They feel good at first, giving you that silky, soft shine, but they can ultimately cause damage in the long run.
While silicones are perfectly safe, this incidental hair damage may make silicone-free formulas preferable, especially once you factor in the many benefits of silicone-free shampoo.
So what does silicone-free shampoo mean for you? New technology now makes it possible to get the same silkiness, softness, and shine these silicones are known for without the long-term harm. Instead, silicone-free shampoo is powered by moisturizing ingredients that work and — do so long-term. It leaves behind smooth strands without weight, no heavy buildup that can dull shine, and hair that stays cleaner, longer.
Here is why it’s worth the swap.
It’s Good For Your Hair
Silicone can sometimes have effects on hair that, over time, can impact healthy hair by causing build-up that leads to a heavy or greasy feel, dullness, and overall damage. And, as we mentioned, some types won’t simply be washed out with water alone. They may require more powerful (and harsh) surfactants, such as sulfates, which have their own drawbacks. That can lead to a cycle of damage that consists of piling on silicones and washing them out with sulfates — with hair-bearing the consequences.
It’s Better For the Environment
Silicones aren’t the end of the world for your hair. For the environment, though, silicones are a stickier issue. They aren’t biodegradable, so as they go from your hair product to your drain, they eventually enter the earth’s waterways and, instead of dissolving, some gradually build up over time and inadvertently contribute to pollution.
How Do I Know If My Shampoo is Silicone-Free?
Many (but not all) silicone-free shampoos will say so right on the label. However, you may have to do a bit more digging. Searching a brand’s website can often surface results about which ingredients they do and don’t use. If that still doesn’t clue you into whether or not your shampoo is silicone-free, take a look at the ingredient label, keeping an eye out for anything ending in -cone. The most common types of silicones found in hair products are:
- PEG-12 dimethicone
- Phenyl trimethicone
- Dimethicone copolymer
Going Silicone-Free with Living Proof
Living Proof shampoos are not only all silicone-free, but also paraben-free, sulfate-free, and cruelty-free. We think it’s important to be transparent about what’s in our haircare product and what’s not, so we list everything right there on the bottle. That way, you can shop hair products online with confidence, knowing whatever Living Proof shampoo you choose for your hair type will be silicone-free. Once you start using it, you may notice that hair becomes less frizzy, moves more naturally, and feels more manageable. In transforming your routine, you can ultimately transform your hair.