|Image from here|
Until a few years ago I always felt I had dull, lifeless hair. It just never looked healthy. I must have spent a small fortune constantly buying new hair products in hopes one of them would transform my thin, dull mop into luscious healthy tresses. Ok, that's an exaggeration, I didn't really think I could ever have "luscious tresses" because I don't have the right hair type for that (my hair is fine textured), but at least I hoped to have healthy-looking, shiny hair!
When my hair was at its worst point ever, I started researching hair product ingredients and made a few major discoveries. Most hair care products use various forms of silicones to make hair easier to comb out and to provide shine. That sounds good...until you realize these silicones coat the hair shaft and seriously build up in the hair over time. As they coat the hair shaft, they seal out moisture, so any conditioning treatments you may be using are never penetrating the hair. Using silicones will make your hair look good for a while, but eventually the result of silicone buildup is flat, dull, dry (and sometimes frizzy) hair.
Since silicones are not water soluble, they are difficult to wash out. Using a harsh clarifying shampoo can help, but they have the risk of over drying your hair and scalp. One reason I frequently lost large amounts of hair was because my shampoos were full of harsh sulfates, which plugged my hair follicles and irritated my scalp. (More on this in a future blog post!)
I began to feel the hair industry is in a conspiracy - if hair products coat our hair in silicone so that it dries out and looks lifeless, we'll continue to buy more and more products (deep conditioners, clarifying shampoos, etc)...
I decided to start a new hair care routine that avoided silicones and harsh shampoos. After a few months of the new routine, my hair was thicker, shinier, more bouncy - it finally truly looked healthy!
Here's what I've learned about a silicone-free hair routine:
1. Silicones are usually listed in the ingredient list as words ending in 'cone, 'col or 'xane - for example, "dimethicone," "cyclomethicone," "cyclopentasiloxane," "trimethicone" and "dimethiconol" are a few common silicones. Look out for these on labels. Even expensive brands use silicones.
2. You can occasionally use a product with silicones as long as it's not something you're using daily. Plus, there are so many great silicone-free hair products that there is really no reason to use them.
3. Less really is more! The less hair products I used, the better and better my hair started looking. I don't mean you can't ever use styling products, but giving the hair a break from all the junk we put on it can really help it bounce back to life! I fasted from hair products for a few weeks, then slowly added a few back in. I usually give my hair a break from any styling products two days a week, and the rest of the days I use a silicone free volume mousse and a silicone free styling spray or leave-in-conditioner.
4. I don't recommend using a straightening iron more than once a week or you will risk damage. Straightening irons get VERY hot, and unless you use a heat protection serum or spray, hair can easily be damaged. The serums and sprays almost all have silicones (that's what coats and protects the hair), so using them frequently obviously is not good for hair. Simple solution - embrace the natural wave/curl most days! Luckily, wavy and curly hair is back in style! (and curling irons and hot rollers don't get as hot as straightening irons, so they are o.k. to use more frequently without a silicone serum!)
5. If you're not using silicones, you can use more gentle shampoos which won't keep the hair dried out and the scalp greasy (if a shampoo is too strong it can either make the scalp flake or make the scalp greasy, or both).
6. Now that you're 'cone (silicone) free you can use deep conditioners (as long as they're silicone free), and they will really penetrate the hair with moisturizing and strengthening ingredients!
7. I think you'll be surprised if you look at ingredient lists of a lot of the most popular styling products - Moroccan Oil for example is almost nothing but silicones! The tiny amount of argan oil will never be able to penetrate the hair shaft with all that silicone, so it is tremendously overpriced! John Frieda Frizz Ease is nothing but silicones and mineral oil, ick!! But don't worry, there are still plenty of great conditioners and styling products that are silicone free. Here's a few of my favorites:
Yes to Carrots Pampering Conditioner has been my favorite conditioner for the last year and a half. It provides a dose of hydration and nutrients without weighing my hair down in the least. The ingredients are high quality - carrot juice, almond oil, honey, carrot seed oil, etc - and the bottle is huge (almost 17 ounces for only about $8), so it's a good value. My hair really started getting more shiny after using this.
Aveda Phomollient has been my go-to volumizing product for the past several years. It not only gives lift at the roots, but also makes my hair feel almost twice as thick. Unlike most mousses, it doesn't make hair crunchy.
Aubrey B-5 Design Gel gives my hair definition, shine and body without feeling heavy or greasy. It also provides protection from blow dryer damage.
Mastey Enplace Sclupting Spray Gel is a bodifying spray that gives hair texture. Unlike most sprays, it is alcohol free and does not dry out the hair.
Mastey, Aveda and Yes to Carrots make some other great 'cone free products as well (though Aveda has some products with silicones - check the labels!)
Here are some other brands that make silicone-free hair care products that get some good reviews (I haven't tried most of these):
Giovanni, John Masters Organics, MOP (modern organic products), Earth Science, Kiss My Face. Again check the labels because I can't guarantee every product from these lines is 'cone free, but many are.
My favorite deep conditioner is just plain extra virgin unrefined coconut oil! Warm it between your fingers, massage into the hair (put a generous amount!), tie hair up, and leave it on the hair for a few hours. Wash it out with your usual shampoo and conditioner, and hair will be shiny and bouncy - and smell like coconuts, mmmm :)!
Do you have any favorite silicone free products? Have you tried going 'cone free? How did it work for you?
I purchased all of these products myself and have no affiliation with the hair care brands I recommended.