Avoiding Silicones? Three Things You Can Use Instead



By now you’ve heard all the hype about silicones in hair, and skin, products. Some of us swear by them, touting its coating or smoothing properties which hold up well with heat styling. Others simply swear at them, asserting that it dries and strips the hair of moisture leading to damage and breakage.

While we think silicones are positive, we understand that some people prefer to avoid them altogether. Regardless of how you feel about silicones, the question begs to be asked: if I don’t use silicone products, what can I use?

The Who, What and Why of Silicones

If you have problems with silicones buildup, there are specific ones you’ll want to avoid.

Silicones are widely recognized as protective agents that aid the hair in a myriad of benefits including color retention, heat styling protection and hair strengthening properties (Dow Corning). Silicones come in a variety of forms and can repel or absorb water, make things soft and smooth, or rough and tacky.

[Read More: Are Silicones in Hair Good or Bad?]

Much like everything else in the hair and cosmetics industry, what works for the goose may cause problems for the gander. With more than half the hair and cosmetic products on the market touting silicone as an ingredient, you can see how this can be a problem for the hair ganders in the world. That’s because silicones can build up in your hair and cause it to feel greasy. Despite having many uses that seem beneficial for the hair, or skin, there are types of silicones you can do without.

If you have trouble with silicone buildup search your products’ ingredients and look for anything ending in “cone,” “conol,” “col,” or “xane.” If you spot it, chances are you probably want to avoid using the product. If, however, your “cone” or “xane” is preceded by the abbreviations “PEG” or “PPG,” it’s a keeper. It means it’s water-soluble, and won’t produce the build-up other silicones are known to cause (Naturally Curly).

Retain Moisture with Emollients and Humectants

suki_sukiNature has a remedy for everything including silicones, and that remedy is an emollient. Emollients help the hair, and skin, by enhancing its capacity to retain water or moisture. When applied to the hair, or skin, it creates a protective film that traps moisture and deters dryness (Journal of Dermatological Treatment). Emollients also help reduce friction when using styling tools—a definite plus for those of us who don’t always handle our tresses with care (Medical News Today).

Softer tresses, smoother hair and reduced dryness, emollients are a definite win. Some of nature’s best emollients are Jojoba oil, avocado oil, and pumpkin seed oil. While the effects are amazing, they are short-lived and frequent application is recommended (Clinical Cornerstone. Something like Suki Suki Hair and Scalp Conditioning Oil ($32.95, amazon.com) has jojoba, sunflower oil, and vitamin E to keep your hair beautiful.

Honey is nature’s golden humectant for healthy hair. Used for centuries because of its healing properties, adding honey to your shampoo or conditioner leaves you with shinier, softer and more manageable hair. Works great on the skin too (National Honey Board)!

Argan Oil – The Liquid Gold of Morocco

Berber_beautyArgan oil is one of the hottest trends in the cosmetic and hair industry. A natural antioxidant, argan oil is produced from the nuts of the argan tree which is native to Morocco. Known as liquid gold, argan oil boasts a long list of benefits including moisturizing the hair, penetrating the hair shaft to prevent breakage and leaving you with softer, smoother skin and hair (Urban Bush). Do you suffer from dry, itchy scalp? Dab a bit of the oil on your scalp, let it sit overnight, wash in the morning and viola! Argan oil contains unsaturated fats omega 3 and omega 9 which aren’t just great for the hair and skin, it’s great the body as well.

In a study published in 2005, argan oil, when ingested, proved to have the same heart health benefits as ingesting olive oil. Both oils were found to protect against oxidative damage that can lead to heart disease (Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases).

Eat it, use it on your face, or smooth it onto your hair with something like Berber Beauty Hair Oil Therapy with CoQ10 ($11.25, amazon.com), argan oil is just what the doctor ordered.

Vitamins – Strong and Healthy From the Inside Out

You are what you eat. Topical oils, moisturizers and butters are wonderful alternatives to silicone, but a poor or vitamin-deficient diet can result in parched, weak hair. Strong, healthy hair starts from within. Eating foods rich in protein and vitamins A, C, E and B complex will give you the essential nutrients necessary for strengthened hair and radiant skin. Nuts, leafy vegetables and avocado make great additions to any diet.

[Read More: Do Hair Growth Supplements Really Work?]

And there’s more that you can do than just have a healthy diet. Something like Viviscal ($41.99, amazon.com), a marine protein, has been shown in studies to help treat hair loss and to also promote thick, beautiful hair (The Hair Loss Cure). And for those with an imperfect diet, Biotin-deficiency has been shown to cause hair loss, so getting some extra with vitamins such as Nature’s Bounty Biotin ($13.88, amazon.com) can help.

Bottom Line

Emollients, argan oil and a vitamin-rich diet are excellent ways to get some of the benefits of silicone products without any of the disadvantages. Unlike actual silicone, you are free to eat silicone substitutes like honey, avocado and argan oil for a healthier, stronger body and immune system. Whether you use it topically or internally, these silicone substitutes are a definite win.

Post by Selena Cochran

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  • Erin Perry

    Honey mixed with conditioner is great — but remember to mix just what you will use each time, as putting large quantities of honey into your conditioner and leaving it seems like a recipe to grow unexpected friends in your hair products. Microwave it first too, to counteract the bleaching effect it can occasionally have.

  • Pamela

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve seen posts talking about potential harm on hair, like buildup and getting greasy. However are Silicones doing anything bad to scalp in particular?

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