As I flip through one of my favorite hair magazines carefully reading each page and interview, I couldn't help but notice tips from a certain hairstylist who will remain anonymous for the purposes of this article.
This particular hairstylist recommended using products with silicone to enhance shine and to protect the hair from heat damage. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well...kind of. You see the truth is that products which contain this chemical polymer do in fact enhance shine, manageability as well as protect the hair from heat damage in a remarkable way. This stylist knows how to get the job done!
Let's take a moment to think about silicone in general. Hmmm...some of our kitchen appliances are made from silicone. These are some of the most heat resistant pans and handle holders of our time. Do you find a bit of irony in the fact that the same material we use to cook our food is being used to help us cook our hair? Yes, you read it right. Truth be told, the main ingredient that you will find in many of those heat-protectants, serums, and frizz control products is in fact silicone.
What's the big deal - I'm protecting my hair against heat damage while simultaneously giving it a fabulous shine? Lets delve a bit deeper. The composition of silicone is one that cannot be absorbed by the hair shaft. This is because the molecules are too large. As a result, the silicone coats the hair shaft. Yes, it coats the hair shaft - 'protecting' it from absorbing external factors including moisture and/or other nutrients (like oxygen and sunlight). Is it starting to make sense?
Isn't it much easier to see a reflection off of a smooth surface? The first layer of the hair shaft prone to damage is the cuticle. Over time its natural roof shingle-like texture begins to lose shingles (or layers), may not open and close properly and as a result is not smooth and thus cannot emit a shine. The silicone coats the damaged hair shaft resulting in a smooth surface and finally emitting the coveted shine.
But what about the damaged hair? Because the silicone cannot be absorbed, you get buildup which yields limp, lifeless tresses. Oh, and psssst...the damage is still there.
Your tresses have a new coat. This coat, since it cannot be absorbed, simply weighs the hair down creating a less frizzy look.
This stuff can resist up to 482-degrees (Fahrenheit) of heat! With all of the heating appliances we use on our tresses, this is great news! You're protecting your hair, but it simply sitting on the surface and building up until your next cleanse.
Alternatives to silicone-based products
As you know this is the ingredients journey, so as I learn more I share more. So far the one oil I can recommend for sure is coconut oil. This oil has a naturally high threshold for heat. The other oils that I am finding have high levels of heat resistance are grapeseed oil and argan oil.
Regardless of the alternative you choose, know that these oils can be absorbed into the hair shaft (some moreso than others) and can provide excellent benefits to the hair, scalp and skin in general. These are also excellent cooking oils as well.
The key is to strengthen the hair from the inside out and then burn it! LOL! No seriously, be proactive - inside out. Remember that the hair blossoms and thrives because of what you feed it (your diet). It's not just about what you put on the hair. Treat the cause; not the symptom.
What's your verdict? Should you choose to use silicone-based products know that you will need to invest in a clarifying shampoo (or cleanse with baking soda/apple cider vinegar as a homemade clarifying shampoo or rinse).
Tips on spotting silicones
In general, most of your silicones will end in -cone; so much so that you may hear people refer to them as cones. Here are a few examples of what you may see on your labels:
- Stearyl dimethicone
What's your verdict?