Silicones, Sulfates and Choosing the right Products for your hair.

As a stylist and salon owner I get to talk and interact with a lot of naturalistas about their hair journey, hair products and hair health. The one thing I have noticed time and time again is that a lot of people are fixated on 'Sulfate Free Shampoos'. They go natural, read up that sulfates are bad for your hair and then invest in sulfate free shampoos - which in and of itself is a great thing.

HOWEVER they begin to suffer from bad breakage, hair starts to thin and even though they seem to be doing the right things and using the 'right' products, their hair is not co operating! Most times when I hear this complaint, the first thing I ask is the name of the deep/leave in conditioner they are using and when you look at the ingredients you notice they have silicones and mineral oil high up on the list.

The thing is while sulfate free shampoos are great for natural hair as they are non stripping, a lot of silicones and other ingredients are non water soluble and can only be removed from your hair using a sulfate shampoo. The continued layering of these products on your hair without washing them out properly will cause build up on  your strands, no moisture will penetrate through and you begin to experience breakage as the hair becomes brittle from lack of penetrative moisture. This is why you will notice most brands that produce 'sets' will have sulfates in their shampoos where they have silicone rich conditioners.

Before we go any further, lets discuss what Silicones are, what they do for the hair and the type of silicones we have.

So silicones are ingredients found in  A LOT of hair products and help in giving the appearance of sleeker, frizz free and polished looking hair. They coat the strands and smooth them making it easier to detangle hair as friction is reduced and giving an outer layer of coating for shine.


In other words they give a  temporary smoothing effect ( that's why every product targeted at split ends is just a temporary solution - they are filled with silicones that temporarily smooth the ends of your hair but ultimately, you would still need to get your hair trimmed)

There are two types of silicones:

Water Soluble
Non Water Soluble

They're both pretty self explanatory - water soluble silicones can come off with water and therefore sulfate free shampoos will work well in washing them off. However the non water soluble silicones cannot be washed off with water and will require the use of a shampoo that has a sulfate in it to thoroughly remove the coating from the hair shaft, allowing the penetration of much needed moisture for our natural tresses.

You can generally identify silicones on your ingredient list by the word 'cone' found on the end of the ingredient.

Examples of Water Soluble Silicones:
 - Dimethicone Copolyol
 - Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
 - Hydrolyzed wheat protein (Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane)
 - PEG/PPG silicones

Non Water Soluble Silicones:

- Dimethicone
- Cyclomethicone
- Trimethylsilylamodimethicone
- Phenyl Trimethicone
- Trimethicone
- Dimethiconol
- Amodimethicone
-  Stearoxy Dimethicone
- Cetyl Dimethicone

Now I always say this to naturalistas who have found themselves in this situation: You have 2 options:

1. Ditch all the products that have silicones in them, get your hair properly clarified with a sulfate shampoo at your salon and then buy conditioners and moisturizers without these ingredients.

2. Invest in a clarifying shampoo with a sulfate in it and use once a month to give your hair a fresh start that way, you can continue using your conditioners and moisturizers with silicones in them.

Clarifying the hair is a very important step in your hair care routine.

One of my favourite clarifying shampoos ever!

 Some people will clarify with ACV , baking soda or black soap, however it is important to understand that whatever you are using has to be strong enough to remove the buildup caused by the products you are using. So your shampoos and cleansers have to match your conditioners and moisturizers so your hair is well cared for.

Ingredient reading is something we don't like to do but it is very important we learn to so as to choose the right product mix for our hair. So, what's in your conditioners?


  1. great read kemi!!!.i go for silicone free conditioners and moisturiser.

    1. Thank you! Great to know! Happy hair journey!

  2. My preferred leave-in conditioner is from African Naturalistas, but I also use Cantu Shea Butter leave-in as well. I haven't really checked the ingredients but they both work well for me.

    LOL @ the graphic. It always makes me chuckle.

    Berry Dakara Blog

    1. Lol yea me too! Cantu has some silicones if I recall so you may want to have a quick look at your shampoo and be sure you're good to go!

  3. Please which product that doesn't have silicon would you recommend?