Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Reader Questions Week : Silicones and Penetrating Oils

Yvonne from Germany asks,

'I understand you’re using products with silicones without any problems and so do I. What I used to do is that I gave my hair a pre-wash oil treatment with olive or coconut oil. Now I’m wondering if this makes any sense at all since the silicone in the products seal my hair in a heavier way than jojoba oil would do. Can the oil get through the layer of silicone at all to penetrate and strengthen my hair?'

Silicones are not really known to completely obstruct the penetration of small molecules (like water) for example. I have actually spent several days scouring through several science search engines to try and see if there is any evidence of silicone in hair products obstructing water penetration but I have nothing to report.

There are no direct references to coconut oil and silicone but I would think that similar to water, there wouldn't be a reason as to why silicones should form a complete barrier. From my own view point, I do use silicones in my shampoo and conditioner but I do not use hair serums. I think if you are using a silicone serum on a frequent basis then your hair may well have a thicker coating of silicone which could be an issue. Also since silicones tend to deposit at defects and around cuticle edges, there is some chance that coconut oil may not be able to take the easy path into hair (by squeezing through underneath the cuticle).

The good news though is that silicone (especially dimethicone) transfers extremely easily. If you run your hands through your hair or sleep with a scarf on, then you are probably taking off quite a bit of the silicone.

Hair is really a personal thing, the best assessment can only come from you. I think if your hair is in good condition and you like the results from what you are doing, then keep doing it! If you don't like the results, then it may be time for a change!


  1. Seconded. Great post. I am starting to feel silicones have been somewhat demonized however I hope I don't eat my words one day if my hair becomes adversely affected! ;-)

  2. Thank you so much for answering my question, JC. I'm using the new Fructis Oil Repair series and my hair just loves it. The conditioner is cone-free, the shampoo and leave-in treatment contain amodimethicones which are listed only in the second half of the inci-list. So they shouldn't ruin my beloved pre-wash oil ritual. Right? ;-)

    I try to avoid dimethicones and dimethiconol and stick to peg-modified dimethicones and amodimethicones instead. This way I can keep my hair smooth and frizz-free without coating it too much.


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