Lor­raine Massey’s book, ‘Curly Girl’ was a cat­a­pult for nat­u­rals to reject sil­i­cones. Sil­i­cones were blamed for pret­ty much every­thing from buildup, excess shed­ding, break­age and dry­ness. Sev­er­al years down the line, nat­u­rals dis­cov­ered that Lorraine’s prod­ucts did actu­al­ly con­tain sil­i­cones. Was this hypocrisy? In my view, it was not. At the time of the writ­ing of the book, Lor­raine was in effect refer­ring to the sil­i­cone serums that many nat­u­rals were using to style their hair dai­ly. Years after writ­ing the book, sil­i­cones had been rede­vel­oped and in fact the sil­i­cone includ­ed in the Deva prod­ucts is quite dif­fer­ent from that in styling serums. Here is the updat­ed sci­ence on sil­i­cones:

1. What is a Sil­i­cone?
Sil­i­cones are essen­tial­ly arti­fi­cial oils. They there­fore behave as oils do, mean­ing they can attach to hair and to some extent pre­vent mois­ture entry and loss from hair. Do not be alarmed, all oils includ­ing cas­tor oil, coconut oil, olive oil etc behave in this way. How­ev­er, none of these oils can ever ful­ly block water exit or entry — oth­er­wise your hair would nev­er ever get wet.

2. What makes sil­i­cones dif­fer­ent from nat­ur­al oils?
The old gen­er­a­tion of sil­i­cones such as dime­thicone tend to form a firm­ly attached coat­ing on hair with a few gaps. Nat­ur­al oils like coconut oil mean­while can pen­e­trate a lit­tle and do not tend to latch on to the sur­face so strong­ly which is why they trans­fer eas­i­ly to your hand or to your pil­low. The strong coat­ing of dime­thicone means it is bet­ter at seal­ing hair and to some extent block­ing mois­ture entry. It also means that the sil­i­cone is much hard­er to remove from hair as it sticks well to the sur­face.

3. What are the new sil­i­cones?
The ‘new’ class of sil­i­cones are real game chang­ers because they are water-sol­u­ble. A very com­mon ingre­di­ent is amodime­thicone (a mod­i­fied ver­sion of dime­thicone). The addi­tion of the ‘amo’ or amino group to the dime­thicone makes it able to be washed off eas­i­ly with just water

4. So should I avoid the old dime­thicone and go for the new amodime­thicone
Actu­al­ly no, there are dif­fer­ent rea­sons for using both the old and new sil­i­cones. In sum­ma­ry:

- Heat pro­tec­tion: Dime­thicone serums are real­ly excel­lent if you are heat styling. They offer good heat pro­tec­tion dur­ing the heat appli­ca­tion and also humid­i­ty pro­tec­tion to main­tain a heat styled look for longer. For dai­ly styling how­ev­er, a dime­thicone serum may not be the best prod­uct.

-Hair con­di­tion­ers and Leave ins: Amodime­thicone or any oth­er water-sol­u­ble sil­i­cone is usu­al­ly pre­ferred in con­di­tion­ers. This is because the sil­i­cone acts as a con­di­tion­ing oil which can be washed off to a large extent which will leave hair with less chance of build up when sub­se­quent prod­ucts e.g gels or nat­ur­al oils are lay­ered on.

-Sham­poo: Any sil­i­cone in sham­poo is much bet­ter than a sham­poo that is total­ly oil free. Do note that some sham­poos will not have sil­i­cones but may instead con­tain an oil such as jojo­ba instead, these are equal­ly fine. Sham­poos which have some oil (sil­i­cone includ­ed) in them will tend to be gen­tler on the scalp and hair. Oils actu­al­ly reduce the cleans­ing pow­er of sham­poos but most nat­u­rals do not real­ly aim for com­plete removal of oil any­way.

Ladies, what have you believed about sil­i­cones in the past? Does this arti­cle clear up mis­con­cep­tions you might have had? How do you approach sil­i­cones now? 

Leave a Reply

39 Comments on "The Natural’s Guide to Silicones"

Notify of

[…] Sil­i­cones – arti­fi­cial oils (dime­thicone) often used in hair care prod­ucts that pre­vent mois­ture from going into or out of your hair. There are new­er ones (amodime­thicone) that are water sol­u­ble. (read more) […]


My hair behave bet­ter with sil­i­cones than with­out. I have fine, high poros­i­ty hair so it’s hard­er to keep it mois­ture in. So the sil­i­cones come in handy because it keeps all the mois­ture in.


What type of sham­poo do you use to pre­vent build-up?

[…] And some­times, there are things that nat­ur­al oils, but­ters, and extracts can’t do. Case and point: heat pro­tec­tion. If you’re seri­ous about pre­serv­ing your curls, coils, and kinks, you’ve like­ly invest­ed in a heat pro­tect­ing spray or serum of some sort. Even more like­ly, that spray con­tains sil­i­cones. Why? Because cones sim­ply put, are bet­ter at delay­ing or mit­i­gat­ing the trans­fer of heat from combs and irons to hair. Not say­ing that oils can’t do this, but just that sil­i­cones are bet­ter at it, and heat pro­tec­tants tend to be for­mu­lat­ed to with­stand direct heat up to spe­cif­ic tem­per­a­tures.… Read more »

I’m of the “no cones” crowd. Pri­mar­i­ly because I don’t under­stand pay­ing more for a prod­uct with arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents (that cost com­pa­nies less to make) than a prod­uct with nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents.


I used to avoid sil­i­cones too in the past, but I do incor­po­rate them when using heat (because they are great heat pro­tec­tants) & when roller­set­ting, I use a serum. My ques­tion is how often are you sup­posed to clar­i­fy with them? Should you use a sul­fate sham­poo week­ly if you use sil­i­cones week­ly? How long does it take for prod­uct buildup?

I stopped using sil­i­cones about a year ago and my hair is now thriv­ing! I think it all depends on what your hair needs are. For exam­ple, I have low poros­i­ty hair. Low poros­i­ty hair is “great” for keep­ing mois­ture in but it’s also hard to get mois­ture in. So my thoughts are that, for me per­son­al­ly, sil­i­cones aren’t the way to go because they would just give me more trou­ble try­ing to bring in mois­ture since they coat the strand so much. I think it’s sil­ly to tell oth­er nat­u­rals what they should use because the whole point of… Read more »
I a new nat­ur­al research­ing healthy hair habits I read a lot that vil­lian­ized sil­i­cones so I did away with all my cone prod­ucts. Skip ahead a year…I learned that there r some water sol­u­ble ones, that cones r great heat pro­tec­tants as an altern to grape­seed oil & that cones for ME were a great smoother.I expe­ri­enced less tan­gles so cones r back in my hair prod­uct rota­tion. I just know to do a acv rinse when I’ve been using cones.I do work hard­er to cleanse it out but for dai­ly hair­care I like the each her… Read more »
I tend to avoid all arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents as much as I can. If black women had beau­ti­ful­ly tend­ed, amaz­ing hair in the past (with­out all these man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts bar­rag­ing them), then why can’t I have the same using nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents? As if our genet­ics have changed so much we need fillers to take care of our­selves. As if! These things make us worse by cam­ou­flag­ing the prob­lems, they don’t con­tribute to TRUE healthy hair. I have nor­mal strands, thick den­si­ty and would be cat­e­go­rized as a 3C-4A, and my hair matts up like a shag rug if I don’t use… Read more »
But the earth doesn’t pro­vide for us so well. Before man got to invent­ing stuff, dis­eases were wip­ing us out. Also, don’t let pho­tos of “nice” hair make you think ALL black women had thriv­ing hair back in the day. If they did, Madame CJ Walk­er would nev­er have had a career. Now we can take it back to the “bush”, but natives liv­ing in native envi­ron­ments most like­ly didn’t have to com­bat pol­lu­tants like we do now. I can’t per­son­al­ly attest whether or not the Nile is com­prised of hard water, but the area I live in is and… Read more »

Its pret­ty scary that some of you don’t read labels. Knowl­edge is pow­er ladies! Please read labels for ANYTHING you put in and on your body. Nev­er blind­ly trust a man­u­fac­ter. I use to avoid cones and stillb­do for the most part. That arti­fi­cial slip feel­ing some­times feels weird on my hair. I’m not going out of my way to avoid­vsil­i­cone but if I read an ingre­di­ant list of a prod­uct that is cone heavy I tend to avoid it.


I nev­er active­ly avoid­ed ’ cones, I just don’t use serums, because they don’t work for my hair. But I do tend to grav­i­tate to prod­ucts with more nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents. But it’s not a rule. Infor­ma­tive arti­cle :)


I gen­er­al­ly avoid ‘cones like the plague because using them too fre­quent­ly dries my hair out. That being said, my head is cur­rent­ly slathered with Chi Silk Infu­sion because I want to wear my hair out in a curly fro tomor­row for grad­u­a­tion (I fin­ished my Bachelor’s degree, yay!), and it’s sup­posed to rain all week­end. I do what I want!


Con­grat­u­la­tions on your degree!


Thank you! :)


My hair hates cones, I wish it didn’t but it does.. dries my hair out ter­ri­bly and leaves a notice­able film on it, yuck.

If I’m active­ly try­ing to define my nat­ur­al coil pat­tern, I will use a co-wash con­di­tion­er with cones (HE HH) along with, occa­sion­al­ly, a leave-in with cones (GF Sleek and Shine). Oth­er­wise I tend not to use them. I will say that I tried Proclaim’s argan oil treat­ment, which is basi­cal­ly a sil­i­cone serum, on damp hair and it left my hair feel­ing sur­pris­ing­ly smooth. As for those who are frus­trat­ed by “the rules”: These are and have always been GUIDELINES. The only rules that count are those that work for you and YOUR hair. Unfor­tu­nate­ly we still aren’t at… Read more »

I find myself get­ting bar­raged with too much infor­ma­tion, espe­cial­ly when it comes to sil­i­cones. I’m care­ful with them and clar­i­fy more often when I use them, or I adjust when my hair just doesn’t look or feel right. Basi­cal­ly, I lis­ten to my hair!


When I first went nat­ur­al, I did not know about “cones”. Then, I found out about them and avoid­ed them like the plague for a full year. Now, I just don’t give a danm and will use what­ev­er works!! Aussie Moist FTW!!


+1 for Aussie Moist. Cheap & effec­tive.


this arti­cle was real­ly infor­ma­tive. it’s great learn­ing how these ingre­di­ents actu­al­ly work instead of some of the myths that float around.


When I first start­ed learn­ing about the curly girl method, the sil­i­cone debate real­ly con­fused me. But since the two you tubers that I admired most (mahogany­curls and nap­tural85) didn’t use sil­i­cones I decid­ed that I wouldn’t either. I mean their hair was beau­ti­ful so they had to be doing some­thing right!! I must admit that my hair has NEVER looked or felt better…and it’s real­ly main­tain­ing moisture(it took about 6 weeks to build my mois­ture bal­ance). For me, I try to avoid as many man made/artificial ingre­di­ents as pos­si­ble and my hair is thriv­ing.


The two You Tubers you men­tion, owe most of their “beau­ti­ful” hair (your words) to GENETICS!!


i swear… i just watched the “draw my life” video from nap­tural85 and she stat­ed that when she was relaxed she could nev­er imag­ine her­self nat­ur­al and look at her now… i’m sure she owes the health of her hair to the care she gives to it. peo­ple real­ly need to stop throw­ing the word genet­ics on every­thing


Nor can we ignore the fact that cer­tain youtu­bers pop­u­lar­i­ty lies in the hair type they pos­sess and it’s abil­i­ty to show and retain length or the curls it has.


Wait wasn’t her hair always long tho? Inch­ing close to bsl. So it goes back to genet­ics, same w/ Hair­crush too. Just because its longER than when they had perms doesn’t change the fact that with it, it was long.


by the way map­tural85 con­stant­ly strech­es her hair that’s why you see the lenght of it. she stat­ed that she was a type 4 we’ve seen many oth­er icons with her hair type on this site whose hair doesn’t “show” its lenght when unstreched


nor can we ignore that many women report that their hair at some point in their lives is longer than it has ever been because they final­ly fig­ured out how to take care of it. genet­ics play a role for sure but if you have poor hair care prac­tices you’ll nev­er see the true poten­tial of your hair that was my point. but let’s say every­one is enti­tled to their own opin­ion.
ps: lenght is lenght 10 inch­es of hair will be ten inch­es of hair whether you’re 3B or 4C we were talk­ing about the abil­i­ty to grow your hair.

That’s unfor­tu­nate that you feel that way G. Peo­ple com­pli­ment my hair and I am more than hap­py to share. But unfor­tu­nate­ly, they stop me mid expla­na­tion stating…“you just got good hair”. That both­ers me so much!! I can hon­est­ly say my hair is “beau­ti­ful” because I am hard­core with my regime. My hair did NOT look like this before. It wasn’t until I start­ed watch­ing their you tube chan­nels that I under­stood what it took. When I say beau­ti­ful hair, I’m refer­ring to the health of the hair. Genet­ics is just anoth­er way of say­ing “good” hair, I thought… Read more »
Yes but to dis­miss G when she said genet­ics plays a huge part in healthy hair, I think is fool­ish. Healthy hair includes many things includ­ing good hair prac­tices, genet­ics, envi­ron­ment, diet… I feel like when ppl make it seem like that the only or major­i­ty rea­son why their hair is long and healthy is because of “good hair prac­tices ” then you have ppl who don’t know no bet­ter who will use the same prac­tices and then won­der why their hair is not healthy. They are not real­iz­ing that per­son genet­ics plays a part. I can do all hair… Read more »
@clewis Not dis­miss­ing G. I have very fine/low den­si­ty hair also and speak­ing for myself, my hair­care prac­tices have made a dif­fer­ence. No my hair isn’t thick­er, but it is in tip top shape now and it doesn’t break. I think the biggest dif­fer­ence is the mois­ture my hair now retains. Actu­al­ly, the thing that saves my thin hair is all the humidity(the same humdi­ty that i use to hate) in south Flori­da!! :) it makes my hair look 3x thick­er (and bc my hair doesn’t dry out like it use to.…it doesn’t get dry and frizzy any­more). So that’s… Read more »

Genet­ics does NOT mean “good hair” to me! I dont care what prod­ucts OR tech­niques folks use or dont use their is cer­tain things about your hair you cant change.…because its who you are GENETICS!!


Yes, there are some peo­ple who hair will always retain length and prob­a­bly there are some peo­ple who hair will always be prone to break­age. But I still believe that the vast major­i­ty of us can have healthy hair if we take good care of it. Nobody says that it will change the tex­ture of the hair, but it can change the qual­i­ty of it.

I agree hav­ing healthy hair not includes healthy hair prac­tices but it also includes genet­ics. For some­body to say that they’re hair healthy only because of hair prac­tices is fool­ish. How do you explain ppl who do noth­ing to their hair but their hair is long and healthy. How you explain ppl who do all the right things but their hair won’t grow. I use good hair prac­tices but my hair still breaks. I have fine, thin hair like my moth­er. And no mat­ter what I do, that won’t change. I do all “fine haired nat­ur­al” aprroved tech­niques but still… Read more »

I don’t know about any­body else but my hair loves some sil­i­coned. I can’t keep up with all these “nat­ur­al rules” I do what I want and what works for my hair. As long as its healthy, I’m good. I’m not to con­cerned with length either.


I have just got­ten to the point where i am not so con­cerned with length and curl def­i­n­i­tion and it is so lib­er­at­ing!


After 20 months of tran­si­tion, now Im final­ly all nat­ur­al, sil­i­cones are tru­ly a nat­u­rals best friend! They pre­vent knots, dry­ness and add shines!


I just do What I want these restric­tions make my head hurt

I agree msboogee! “all of these big words” LOL- it is just too much for me to be read­ing and dici­pher­ing labels what to use, what not to use. I am not an “all nat­ur­al” nat­ur­al, so i just use what makes my hair feel good. I wash when i need it and i use what gives me the best results and i sus­pect there are more than a cou­ple of -cones in my prod­ucts. I tried the all nat­ur­al route and the no cones and it just did­nt work for me and it stressed me out. I’ll be damned… Read more »