In today’s world, we are bombarded with advertisements of hair products that guarantee beautiful, silky, and shiny hair. Punch lines such as “strong hair that can pull a truck” or “soft and silky hair with a bounce”, are the marketing strategies of hair products. We all would like our hair to live up to those expectations. And the wonder ingredient that can deliver some spectacular results in our hair is nothing else, but a humble inorganic molecule called silicone.
Silicone, also known as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, is a derivative of silicon that is found in glass, quartz, and sand. Silicone has been an ingredient in cosmetics of the skin and hair since the 1950s. Silicones are inorganic polydimethylsiloxane polymers that are modified based on the product. The inorganic silicone molecule is flexible, with a long backbone of repeat units and different side chains that are linked to the silicone atom. The different side chain groups result in different types of silicone products. They have an oily, liquid consistency.
There are 2 types of silicone products: water-insoluble and water-soluble. The water-insoluble silicone products coat the hair and form deposits since they do not get washed out with water. While the hair remains frizz-free, it also slowly starts to form clumps and becomes brittle. Water-soluble silicone products (eg. dimethicone copolyol and PEG-modified dimethicone), however, are easier to wash away with water. All cosmetic products that contain chemicals ending in “-one” are indicative of containing silicone products.
Silicone Hair Treatment Procedure: Silicones coat hair strands, thus creating a smooth, shiny effect on the hair. Due to the high refractive index, the hair looks glossy. The hair looks healthy and remains detangled. The hair strands do not clump together and there is no resistance while combing. The hair ends are smooth and undamaged when coated with silicone. Silicone coating of hair provides protection from heat and also retains moisture in the hair. The heat transfer utilizes water as a conductor. By retaining moisture in the hair, silicones aid in the smooth transfer of heat to the hair fiber. This property is very important when the hair is subjected to styling techniques that use heat. Silicone-treated hair also retains the color of hair that has undergone color treatment.