Silicones in shampoo: this is what you need to know

Image of Ewa Grygorowicz
Ewa Grygorowicz

Lead scientist @ Keune Lab

Keune Hair Cosmetics
Keune Hair Cosmetics

More and more people are looking for shampoo without silicones. We asked our hair experts from the Keune Lab to explain what silicones are and how to recognize them. Discover all the facts and myths about silicones in shampoo.

What are silicones in shampoo?

Scientifically speaking is silicone, a big molecule made by people that are built up out of silicon (Si), oxygen (O), and other elements such as carbon (C) and hydrogen (H). Every silicone starts with sand (silica) that undergoes chemical processes to become silicone. In fact, there are 1.000 possible ingredients in cosmetics that are made from or contain silicones. These silicones can be purely synthetic or can be a combination of synthetic and natural ingredients. Shampoo is one of the products that silicones are used in often. 

Why are silicones in shampoos?
  • Spreadability: Silicones make it easier for a shampoo to spread through your hair while washing.

  • Smooth feeling: Silicones make your hair feel less rough and more smooth.

  • Detangling: Silicones are great for detangling hair and making hair easier to comb.

  • Shine: Silicones leave a layer on the hair that makes it look shinier.

  • Protection: Silicones can leave a layer over the hair that protects it from damage by chemical exposure and environmental insults.

Image of foam
How can you recognize silicones in shampoo?

There should be an ingredient list on every shampoo bottle. In this list of ingredients you can recognize silicone-based ingredients by words that end with: -cone, -xane, -conol, and -silane.

Facts & Myths about silicones
  • Silicones are bad for your health - MYTH

This is definitely a myth. If they were bad for your health, the World Health Organization would never allow companies to put silicones in products. Silicones are hypoallergenic, non-irritating and non-toxic for your body

  • Silicones close your skin - MYTH

Silicones do not close your skin. In fact it creates a breathable layer on the skin and around the hair that allows oxygen and vapor to get through (proven in skin-based research).

  • Silicones are not biodegradable - FACT

Even though silicones are not biodegradable, they do degrade in soils or by UV light. Still, most silicones do not even end up in soils because they are filtered out in wastewater treatment plants. 

  • Silicone can build up on your hair, resulting in dry and dull hair - FACT

But... there is a big BUT. The risk of silicones building up on your hair is as likely as from oils. Silicones can also be easily removed from the hair with a clarifying shampoo. 

About this collaborator

Image of Ewa Grygorowicz
Ewa Grygorowicz

Lead scientist @ Keune Lab

Cosmetic chemist Ewa is always busy in the lab with developing new premium hair products for Keune. She's passionate about explaining the science behind healthy-looking hair and technologies behind products.

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