When you look for hydrating products that claim to moisturize low-porosity hair, you will frequently see silicones such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone listed on the ingredient label. Which are often time termed as bad—but are silicones bad for low-porosity hair?
Unfortunately, allegedly hydrating hair products are often deceptive and don’t always have the best ingredients. Read on to learn more about whether silicones are bad for low-porosity hair.
Yes! Silicones don’t work well for low-porosity hair. Silicones form a layer over your hair that prevents moisture from getting in, will make it even more difficult for low-porosity hair to get the hydration it needs.
Silicones appear in many moisturizing hair products but can have a counterproductive effect on low porous hair. Silicones are a type of synthetic polymer with qualities similar to rubber or plastic.
Cosmetic brands use silicones in their product formulas to create shine and seal in moisture. Many people mistake silicone for a moisturizing product since you see it in conditioners and hair creams.
However, silicones do not add any new hydration to your hair: they can only form a seal around your hair shaft, preventing the existing moisture from escaping.
Thus, silicones aren’t that useful for folks who don’t have enough existing moisture in their hair, such as people with low porosity hair.
Furthermore, many silicones aren’t water soluble and can be challenging to wash out, causing a product build-up that weighs down your hair and potentially causes scalp issues.
Silicones act like a sealant, locking in moisture and giving the hair a softer texture. However, with low porosity hair, there’s very little existing moisture for the silicone to protect. Instead, the silicone prevents much-needed moisture from reaching the hair.
The typical consumer has a relatively good understanding of their hair texture but might neglect the relevance of their hair porosity. Hair porosity describes your hair’s ability to absorb moisture and is a major determining factor for whether silicones will work for you.
If it takes a long time to get your hair fully wet when you shower, you probably have low-porosity hair. If you’re still unsure, run a porosity test on your hair. Drop a single hair strand in a small bowl of water.
If the hair sinks, it has high porosity and can easily absorb water. If your hair still floats after several minutes in the water, your hair has low porosity and struggles to retain moisture.
Silicones won’t help low-porosity hair, and won’t cause significant damage either. If you use silicones on your low-porosity hair, you may find that your hair appears weighed down and has a greasy product buildup.
Fortunately, with a good cleansing shampoo, you can rinse the silicones out of your hair and start fresh. The only potentially damaging aspect of silicones is scalp irritation.
Long-term product buildup can irritate your scalp and possibly impact hair growth and loss. However, if you clean out the silicones and focus on your scalp health, it should go back to normal.
Typically, low-porosity hair doesn’t benefit from silicones, and you shouldn’t use them regularly. Silicones won’t provide your hair with any real hydration or nourishment and at most, will create the temporary illusion of shiny hair.
That said, you can get away with occasional use if you have a favorite product that contains silicones.
If you do use silicones, try to stick to the water-soluble ones. You can wash out a water-soluble silicone without much effort. Examples of common water-soluble silicones include dimethicone copolyol and lauryl methicone copolyol.
On your next wash day after using a silicone product, be sure to thoroughly wash your hair with a cleansing shampoo and follow up with a lightweight, nourishing conditioner.
Some people with low porosity hair also get good results from products that contain honey.
Glycerin is another excellent alternative to silicone. Glycerin attracts water molecules and will help your hair get more hydration. Similar to silicones, glycerin also has sealing properties that protect your hair strands, but without creating a moisture barrier.
As you look for moisturizing products, be wary of thick or heavy products. Low-porosity hair needs a light, gentle touch—thick creams or conditioners will clog up your hair. You should also avoid products that are high in protein ingredients, as this may make your hair drier.
Overall, silicones are bad for low-porosity hair. Silicones coat your hair, preventing it from getting much-needed hydration and can be difficult to wash out. Instead, seek out lightweight hydrating products that can penetrate your low-porosity hair.