The Conditioning Properties of Silicone

The Conditioning Properties of Silicone

On just about every hair board, you can find a post bashing silicones for coating the hair and robbing it of moisture.  I don’t have any particular distaste for cones (quite the opposite) but I thought I should do some research and see if all silicones are as detrimental to hair care as some of the hair board postings seem to suggest.  This is what I found.

Silicones have a bad reputation for coating the hair and blocking moisturization, but according to a study by Dow Corning Corporation,  silicones can play an important part in hair care because of their conditioning  properties and ability to impart shine.

The study found that a patented silicone resin called amino phenyl trimethicone had the ability to increase shine in various types of hair including African American hair even more so than regular phenyl trimethicone.  In addition to the shine, this particular resin was also found to “enhance hair straightening”.  Since it didn’t degrade in alkaline solutions it also made it an appropriate addition for chemical relaxer treatments.

Another silicone technology – an emulsion of silicone quaternium-16; assists to “improve hair softness and conditioning”.  Their negatively charged particles are attracted to the positively charged hair fibers and thus aid to “increase hydrophilic character, ability to act as a thickener, and …ability to aid in the deposition of other materials such as coating and conditioning agents”.  In other words this silicone quaternium-16 emulsion is not only attracted to hair but it attracts water, and can deposit conditioning agents onto the hair shaft.  When compared to conditioners without silicone, the silicone quaternium-16 emulsion performed more than 2 times better for wet-combing and some 50 times better for dry combing.

Based on the results of the study, it is safe to assume that silicones can offer significant benefits when it comes to imparting shine, conditioning and detangling wet and dry hair.

Just a quick glance through my hair stash revealed that quaternium technology is utilized by numerous hair brands including Joico, Keracare, Ojon, Kenra, Soft Sheen Carson, Mizani and Nairobi to name a few.  In fact some of the products I love the most have quaternium as a key ingredient.

I’ve always been one to embrace silicones. I learned early in my journey that they make my life a heck of a lot easier especially when it comes to detangling. This study just confirms my thoughts. How do you feel about silicones? Are you anti-silicones or do you embrace them?

Johnson, Beth; Lin, Feifei; Ostergaard, Todd; Leaym, Tina; DeCaire, Julie; Quackenbush, Kim -Dow Corning, South America. New Silicone Technologies for Ethnic Hair Care Cosmetic Science Technology (2005)

Author: Vogue

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1 Comment

  1. Of course Dow Corning conducted this study, they’re the leading manufacturer of silicones.

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