Silicones in Conditioner: Why & How to Say Goodbye for Good

Silicones in Conditioner: Why & How to Say Goodbye for Good

These days, silicones are everywhere – ice cube trays, baby toys, and haircare products. Yes, even shampoos and conditioners! 

Silicones in conditioner have long been used to tame frizz, detangle, and add shine to hair. But do silicones really elevate your hair care routine? And are there reasons to avoid silicones altogether? 

Keep reading to learn more about silicones in conditioners and why you may want to say goodbye for good and go silicone-free from here on out.  

What is silicone & why is it in conditioner?

Silicone is a polymer synthesized from various materials (like sand) and chemicals (often fossil fuels). It’s somewhat of a hybrid between synthetic plastic polymer and synthetic rubber.

Silicones can be processed into solid or liquid form (the silicones in conditioners have a gel-like consistency). Silicones also have some key characteristics, such as being heat-resistant, flexible, and water-repellant.

Silicones became a popular conditioner ingredient in the 1970s to prevent heat-styling damage and to achieve glossy-looking hair. The use of silicones has only grown with time, and today, they are readily used in both haircare and skincare products.  

Sounds fair enough, so why might you want to opt for silicone-free conditioner?  

Silicones are a short-term solution

While silicones can give a temporary effect of smooth and shiny hair, the long-term results leave much to be desired.

The waxy texture of silicone tends to coat hair strands, stopping other ingredients from cleansing properly. Silicones can also prevent your scalp and tresses from absorbing nutrients and moisture. With regular use over time, your hair may dry out and become prone to breakage! 

Just as frustrating, because most silicones are not water soluble, they are difficult to wash out. They tend to build up, leading to weighed-down and greasy-looking hair. 

But hair isn’t the only place silicones unwantedly accumulate.


Silicones are a no-go for the environment 

Silicones can sometimes be a more environmentally friendly choice. For example, opting for reusable silicone sandwich bags over single-use plastic ones. But silicones in conditioner? Not the most sustainable choice – we’ll explain why.    

While biodegradable silicones are being studied, the vast majority of silicones do not biodegrade, as microorganisms cannot break them down. So when silicones get washed down drains and into the environment, they accumulate and contribute to pollution.   

Silicones are also mainly found in liquid shampoo and conditioners, meaning plastic bottles galore. We do mean galore (Canada alone produces over 3 million plastic tonnes per year). 

Luckily, accessible plastic-free alternatives enable many of us to embrace a “bottles be gone” mindset. Beyond avoiding single-use plastic, adopting silicone-free conditioner is a wonderful eco-friendly option!

However, silicones are in most conditioners, so how do we avoid them?  

How to avoid silicones in conditioner

The first step to avoiding silicones in conditioners is knowing what to look for. Unfortunately, ingredient labels won’t simply say “silicone,”  because there are dozens of silicone-based ingredients. However, many do end in “cone,” so spotting them may be easier than you’d expect. Below are some common silicones to look out for: 

  • Dimethicone
  • Amodimethicone
  • Cetearyl methicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Phenyl trimethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane

No matter what, we always recommend researching ingredients you don’t recognize. Better safe than sorry, right? 

Constantly researching product labels can be exhausting. By far, the easiest course of action is to find a tried-and-true silicone-free conditioner that works for the whole family. 

All-natural & silicone-free conditioner bars

When you kick silicones (plus phthalates, parabens, and harsh sulfates) out of the washing equation, it leaves room for the good stuff. We mean cocoa butter, jojoba oil, and deep-cleansing agents like activated charcoal. In other words, the ingredients that clean, nourish, and keep hair healthy long-term.

At Bubbles & Balms, we focus on both people and the planet, which is why we opt for solid conditioner bars. Our formulations are eco-safe, biodegradable, and leave hair silky smooth, all while being silicone-free! 

You can further reduce plastic waste in your body care routine by making more bar swaps, such as:

Bottled shampoo → shampoo bars 

Liquid hand soap → natural bar soap

Foaming shaving cream → solid shave bars    

As for conditioner bars, we have three hair-nourishing and divine-smelling ones to try: Coconut Orange, Rosehip & Lavender, and Tea Tree & Charcoal

Shop Our Conditioner Bars Here!  

- Written by Sariah Vilate

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