Silicone….a silly con?

From 2008 to 2010, here at WITS we refused to deviate from Pantene….we’d have put it above sliced bread. It made us swoosh our hair about as though we were starring in….well…a Pantene advert. We could almost hear Natasha Bedingfield serenading us as we sashayed along the high street.

Until we told our hairdresser.

The P word was uttered, her jaw was on the floor, and she was giving us the kind of look that we thought was only found on death row.

After hearing that we might as well be coating our locks in strychnine because of the high level of silicone in Pantene, we forlornly turned our backs upon it….but recently we’ve been beginning to wonder if the rest was still unwritten.

Silicone is a much maligned hair ingredient…but why? Let’s find out!

What is silicone?

Silicones are synthetic compounds made from silicon, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and other elements. Silicones are not waterproof, but repel water and make excellent water tight seals, which is why they have such diverse uses. You can find silicones being used in practically every industry from dry cleaning to contact lenses to aquarium joints and cookware.

…so why does everyone hate using hair products that contain silicones?

Here’s where things get a little complicated, but don’t worry…just like MC Hammer, we’ll break it down.

Firstly, silicone is an umbrella term for lots of different compounds with varying characteristics. There are two types of silicones used in hair products water soluble and non water soluble. Both types coat the hair and give it that much longed for L’OrĂ©al swoosh, whilst preventing moisture loss. Water soluble silicones can simply be washed away with water; however non water solubles need to be washed away with sulphates, which also strip the hair of moisture. So if you’re looking to retain moisture we’d advise using a water soluble silicone.

but how do I know which one is which?!

Well, we like to look after you…so here’s a quick reference guide (you’re welcome!)

Water Soluble Silicones
Dimethicone Copolyol
Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
Hydrolyzed wheat protein (Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane)
Any Silicone with PEG as a prefix

Non Soluble (not water soluble)
Phenyl Trimethicone
Cetearyl Methicone
Stearyl Dimethicone
Cetyl Dimethicone
Behenoxy Dimethicone
Stearoxy Dimethicone

So, after a bit of scratching our heads, and reading lots of complicated words that we can’t even begin to pronounce, we think that silicones aren’t as deserving of the bad name they’ve been given thus far. We think that with a good clarifying shampoo and sporadic use, water soluble silicones aren’t the worst thing we could put on our hair.

What do you think? Will you be reconsidering the S word for a one off swoosh?

If you want anymore info on silicone or any other posts, you can tweet us @weareWITS or email us at

Finally, happy mothers day to all you lovely WITS Mums out there!