There are a lot of great hair prod­ucts avail­able to help us achieve the per­fect ‘do. How­ev­er, it does make you won­der if you can put too much stuff on your hair? Do cer­tain ingre­di­ents build up over time? Sil­i­cone is a very com­mon­ly used hair care ingre­di­ent. so lets take a clos­er look at how it works.

How do silicones work?

While often maligned, sil­i­cones are actu­al­ly one of the most effec­tive ingre­di­ents in both hair and skin care prod­ucts. Sil­i­cones work by cov­er­ing hair with a thin hydropho­bic (water­proof) coat­ing. This coat­ing serves sev­er­al pur­pos­es:

  • Reduces the poros­i­ty of the hair, which makes it less like­ly to absorb humid­i­ty (Which is why it’s great for smooth­ing and straight­en­ing!)
  • Reduces mois­ture loss from the inside of the hair (Great for con­di­tion­ing.)
  • Lubri­cates the sur­face of the hair so it feel smoother and combs eas­i­er (Makes your hair feel slip­pery and less tan­gled.)
Will silicone build up on your hair?

It real­ly depends on the type of sil­i­cone. There are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent sil­i­cones used in hair care that exhib­it dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties.

  • Cyclome­thicone is one of the most com­mon­ly used sil­i­cones in hair care. It’s a volatile sil­i­cone, which means it evap­o­rates and won’t build up on your hair. It gives a silky, smooth feel and leaves the hair with incred­i­ble slip when wet and is found in both leave-on and rinse-off prod­ucts.
  • Dime­thicone Copoly­ol is a water-sol­u­ble, light­weight sil­i­cone that pro­vides very lit­tle buildup. It is often used in con­di­tion­ing sham­poos.
  • Amodime­thicone (or sil­i­cones that have “amo”, “amine” or “amino” in their name) is a dif­fer­ent kind of sil­i­cone that is chem­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied to stick to your hair bet­ter. That means it con­di­tions well but it can also be more chal­leng­ing to remove. Amodime­thicone is com­mon­ly used in leave-in con­di­tion­ers.
  • Dime­thicone is some­times referred to as a sil­i­cone oil. Dime­thicone coats hair, pro­vid­ing great shine and con­di­tion­ing to the hair. How­ev­er, because it’s so water insol­u­ble, it can be dif­fi­cult to remove.  Addi­tion­al­ly, this heavy coat­ing is more like­ly to attract dirt and pol­lu­tants from the air, mak­ing the hair feel weighed down.  Dime­thicone is often found in serums and oth­er leave-on prod­ucts.
How can I deal with buildup?

Wash your hair! Any decent sham­poo will wash away sil­i­cone. How­ev­er, if you are a heavy user or prod­ucts con­tain­ing sil­i­cone (par­tic­u­lar­ly those with dime­thicone), you may have to lath­er, rinse and repeat. If you want the ben­e­fits of sil­i­cone with­out the weight, look for light­weight sil­i­cones, as men­tioned above, like cyclome­thicone and dime­thicone copoly­ol. These ingre­di­ents won’t build up but still give you some con­di­tion­ing and shine ben­e­fits.

Bottom Line

I per­son­al­ly find the ben­e­fits of sil­i­cones to far out­weigh any neg­a­tives. Sil­i­cones are very effec­tive con­di­tion­ers, pro­vide great shine and can help smooth and straight­en hair. If you are con­cerned about buildup and weigh down, be sure to look at the label to make sure you are using light­weight sil­i­cones.

Ladies, do you avoid sil­i­cones? Why or why not?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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37 Comments on "What are Silicones and are they Good for Your Hair?"

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I don’t use them — the “lighter” ones don’t do enough good, and the heav­ier ones weigh my hair down too much. I’ve found that ditch­ing sham­poo alto­geth­er & deep con­di­tion­ing once a week (evoo/egg, kefir/evoo, etc) with water only wash­es in between works much bet­ter for my hair — and for my skin & the rest of my body, too. :)


[…] sev­er­al min­utes then I can style my hair. I wouldn’t do this method with con­di­tion­ers that havesil­i­cones, but for con­di­tion­ers that are nat­ur­al I find that this is a great short cut deep con­di­tion­ing […]


[…] sev­er­al min­utes then I can style my hair. I wouldn’t do this method with con­di­tion­ers that have sil­i­cones, but for con­di­tion­ers that are nat­ur­al I find that this is a great short cut deep con­di­tion­ing […]

I have been nat­ur­al since March 2012. When I went nat­ur­al, I went pure­ly nat­ur­al. NO Cones!! But as my hair began to grow out, my detan­gling process became a night­mare! I have but super duper thick and super super curly/coily course hair! The top of my hair is easy to detan­gle, it is more 3C but every where else is more 4a,so it is a chal­lenge! I used a cone con­di­tion­er last week for the first time since March, and let me tell you„ my detan­gling was a breeze! I had began to LOATHE wash­ing my hair! I don’t… Read more »

I avoid sil­i­cones because I pre­fer nat­ur­al prod­ucts for hair, skin, body, etc. 

Some nat­ur­al sources of slip, smooth­ness and mois­ture that work for my hair are Lily of the Desert aloe vera gel, cas­tor oil and coconut oil. These ingre­di­ents me detan­gle my kinky, coily hair with ease with­out sil­i­cones.

In the future, I want to look into herbs like slip­pery elm and marsh­mal­low root for slip in detan­gling.

I tried to stay away from sil­i­cones once I tru­ly began to edu­cate myself on nat­ur­al hair (when I began my own tran­si­tion almost two years ago). After try­ing a num­ber of prod­ucts that would work for me and my two girls, of which one has a dif­fer­ent grade of hair than the oth­er, I final­ly had to come back to our orig­i­nal entry point to the nat­ur­al hair indus­try, Carol’s Daugh­ter. I know a num­ber of peo­ple, includ­ing me, have an issue with the direc­tion that her com­pa­ny is tak­ing. Yet, my old­er daugh­ter has 3B/3C hair that tan­gles… Read more »

Cones for me only when i straight­en my hair,otherwise my hair can breathe and hap­pi­ly live with­out them. :)

It’s good to know what ingre­di­ents do and how your hair reacts then you can make a choice from them. 

My favorite co-wash has petro­la­tum and i tried to get rid of it but my hair was miss­ing it so i bought it back. :)

Blan­ket con­dem­na­tion of cer­tain ingre­di­ents don’t work as each head of hair has dif­fer­ent needs.


No, I do not avoid the use of sil­i­cones. I am in tran­si­tion, and I use what works for my hair, regard­less of ingre­di­ents.

Johnnie McCullough

What kind of Grease do I need to use that car­ries sil­i­ca


My hair doesn’t like sil­i­cones, I’ve tried that…and it’s just a nogo plus build up isn’t a good look. Sil­i­cones may be good for some but my hair is real­ly picky, my mom nev­er used grease on it and it doesn’t like grease, my mom didn’t use oil when I was younger and it doesn’t like oil but it LOVES creams…funny how hair works.


My hair hates sil­i­cone prod­ucts. They will lit­er­al­ly turn my hair into a weak, tan­gled mess. I wasn’t sure at first, but after using sev­er­al sil­i­cone based prod­ucts and all with the same result: dry, tan­gles and itchy hair. I quick­ly switched to Nubian Her­itage and Shea Mois­ture prod­ucts for my hair. I’m too scared to waste mon­ey on Can­tu since I’ve heard their prod­ucts have sil­i­cone. But I love the fact that sil­i­cone works for some and not for oth­ers. It shows hair diver­si­ty and char­ac­ter. Haha.


Same here. I use cones when straight­en­ing, but cones in con­di­tion­ers didn’t work for me. Besides that, I have had no prob­lems find­ing sil­i­con-free con­di­tion­ers, gels, and sham­poos that give me great slip and work fan­tas­ti­cal­ly for me.

Moral of this arti­cle? Don’t rush to use or dump a product/ingredient because some­one else says so. Test and com­pare before mak­ing a deci­sion.


Sil­i­cones do not work for me, I have used them for 35+ years on my hair and every since used nat­ur­al oils like emu and sil­i­cone free or prod­ucts with less sil­i­cones my hair is so much health­i­er.
Its a Trick­ster ingre­di­ent, it tricks you into think your hair like it when it real­i­ty after it wash­es off, you hair is left dri­er, and more dam­aged than before. Don’t fall for this Mar­ket­ing Trick. Com­mon sense tells you that nat­ur­al is bet­ter than a Silicone,s its in the same fam­i­ly and bath­room sealant. lol


My hair likes the cones. After watch­ing youtu­ber Long­hair­dont­care2011 who empha­sizes tech­nique over product,and has a beau­ti­ful head of hair to show for it, I decid­ed that as long as my hair respond­ed well to what I was doing, there was no need to make my regime too com­pli­cat­ed. I can appre­ci­ate the sci­ence behind it though. Always a good read.


Thanks for clear­ing this up! I’ve always been con­fused about this.

Tiffany W

I’ve used the Sil­i­con Mix Bam­bu hair treat­ment as a deep con­di­ton­er for over six months now and haven’t seen a prob­lem. Of course that may depend based on hair type, den­si­ty, etc. I’m 3b, ‚c, and 4 a. It pro­vides lots of slip (detan­gling is a breeze), sheen, and soft­ness.


I am pret­ty indif­fer­ent to cones unless the top three ingre­di­ents in a prod­uct involve two dif­fer­ent types of them.

Tiff Dizzle
I love my CONES… and I have read on a lot of nat­ur­al hair blogs that you should­nt use them, but I know my hair has nev­er had a issue before using them so I’ve nev­er tak­en them out of my hair reg­i­men… ALL these kinks and curls in my head I could­nt imag­ine wash­ing my hair with out them lol… It makes me think, where peo­ple come up with these “facts” Cus lets face it most of use had beau­ti­ful LONG NATURAL hair as chil­dren when our par­ents were slap­ping Blue Mag­ic and Stinky Glovers Mane Sulfer sham­poo in out… Read more »

i’m like you. i nev­er ques­tioned tak­ing them out before.


Great arti­cle. Thanks for the expla­na­tion of the var­i­ous cones. This sum­ma­ry saved me a google search. I’ve been using the Organix line and now under­stand that it has a heavy cone in it.


I use the­mand it does not both­er my hair at all. I am also curly girl and they seem to work bet­ter for ME then non sil­i­cone con­di­tion­ers. I do cow­ash with As I Am coconut cow­ash and that dont have any but the herbal essence I use and the Gar­nier does.
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I just straight­ened my hair using cones also. Love it


I can’t wait to straight­en mine, haven’t done it since my last relax­er in March’11! I’m giv­ing it 2 more months to see if I can get past SL.


And your hair looks great, it looks very healthy and boun­cy !

I wish this had been post­ed soon­er! I stopped using sil­i­cones for about 4 months and boy did my hair pay dear­ly for it! I did some research, and most of what I read indi­cat­ed that sil­i­cones should be avoid­ed. Well any­way, my hair start­ed shed­ding alot, and was super tan­gled and dif­fi­clut to get thru. Any­one con­sid­er­ing an “all nat­ur­al” line of prod­ucts with­out sil­i­cone may want to re-think that! I’ve rein­tro­duced it back into my hair rou­tine and my hair is doing bet­ter already. I do stay away from parabens, but sil­i­cone will always be my friend! I… Read more »

Hap­pened to me also, even after using a pro­tein treat­ment, although my shed­ding wasn’t too crazy and I didn’t have much prob­lems comb­ing. It just wasn’t as well main­tained as when I used silicone’s, so now I’m doing a ‘sil­i­cone treat­ment’ every every weeks by just dc’ing using a prod­uct with some ‘cones in it. So far I can see a total dif­fer­ence, but my hair still doesn’t like them in leave ins. Just have to be care­ful with sil­i­cone build up!


*few weeks


Co-sign…HE HH is the clos­est thing I have to a HG prod­uct and it sure does have a cone in it. When I was exper­i­ment­ing with WNGs a cou­ple of years back I found that cones gave me slip and helped with def­i­n­i­tion. For MY hair, cones are here to stay…

Bridget J.

Def­i­nite­ly agree. My hair needs sil­i­cones.


I have expe­ri­enced the same. HHHE is here to stay.Almost every­thing else in my reg­i­men is all nat­ur­al. I will con­tin­ue to switch it up.


total­ly agree. Hap­pened to me also


I tried out Herbal Essences Hel­lo Hydra­tion. It makes my scalp itch like crazy, my hair dried very dry and it did build up. Lat­er I clar­i­fied and switched back to nat­ur­al prod­ucts. While HE prod­ucts may be cheap, in the long run I’d rather get some­thing that doesn’t irri­tate my scalp or build up quite so eas­i­ly.


Hel­lo Hydra­tion is excel­lent as a shave cream. Legs and biki­ni area as smooth as-all-get-out:)


HAHA! Thought I was the only one who tried that :P


I hate HE HH, too! In fact, every HE prod­uct I have tried cre­at­ed build-up on my hair. Like Zan­the, I expe­ri­enced itchy scalp, while using prod­ucts by HE. I don’t get all the hype about this prod­uct line at all. I think Aussie Moist is far supe­ri­or to HE and I nev­er had a bad expe­ri­ence with that prod­uct line.


Because of the many pos­i­tive reviews on HEHH, i bought it and was real­ly look­ing for­ward to try­ing it. It felt as if I had washed my hair with wax. Need­less to say, I imme­di­ate­ly got rid of it. Nev­er had a prod­uct do that before. I had the time of my life try­ing to lift that prod­uct off my hair.


I had an itchy scalp with HE, also. Not just the HEHH, but all of them. I think it had more to do with the dyes and fra­grances in the prod­uct, rather than the actu­al sil­i­cones.