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Is Silicone in Shampoo Bad for the Environment?

Silicone is the 3rd ingredient found in shampoo and it can be dangerous for your health. It also assumes other names such as Dimethicone, Methicone, and Hydrogenated Silica, etc. However, Silicone’s synthetic form is used in shampoos and many beauty products for its water-repelling properties and to make the hair shiny and sleek.

Is silicone in shampoo bad for the environment? As far as effects on health are concerned: Silicone coats your hair strands and prevents them from getting wet (which is the main purpose of rinsing the shampoo off your hair). Therefore, it does not get eliminated from your body and may accumulate there and create health problems.

What is silicone?

Washing Hair

Silicones are synthetic polymers, which means that they’re man-made. They were developed to help protect waterproofing and provide a more manageable look to hair.

They come as either liquids or solids and can be added directly into hair care products or as part of a formulation process that uses various agents such as surfactants, alcohols, glycerin, or other chemicals to bind it together.

Silicones are one of the most widely used types of chemical additives in cosmetics by the beauty industry and just about every day personal care products such as hair spray, lipstick, foundation, and many others. They make your hair instantly manageable after shampooing and keep it healthy for a longer time.

Silicones are used in personal care products to condition, waterproof and preserve the product’s texture, while also helping it mix or blend with other ingredients.

The most commonly known silicone is dimethicone, but there are many others that are found in your everyday cosmetic products including Cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, amodimethicone, and Cyclopentasiloxane.

See Related: Is Hair Biodegradable?

What are the most common silicone hair products?

Hair sprays are the most common form of silicone hair product that you will find out there. They coat your strands and give them a shiny and healthy look. Other silicone hair products include:

  • Anti-frizzy hair serums – When your hair is exposed to humidity, these silicones protect it from frizzing up and looking dry.
  • Volumizing shampoos – These products are designed to give hair more volume with the use of silicone.
  • Conditioning treatments – Silicones help condition your hair so that it feels silkier and looks shinier than ever before.

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Why is silicone bad for you?

  • Silicone coats the hair strands and prevents them from getting wet (which is the main purpose of rinsing shampoo off your hair). Therefore, it does not get eliminated through rinsing and may accumulate there causing health issues.
  • Because silicon is insoluble in water, it doesn’t come out with shampoos and washes. Over time it builds up in the body, especially in the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and other organs where it can cause cellular damage or block pores.
  • Silicones are used to replace healthy oils that your hair needs to stay hydrated. Without natural oils, your scalp will get dry and flaky which is why using silicone-laden shampoo can lead to hair loss and damage.

Silicones also contain many toxic chemicals which you would rather not have in contact with your scalp and skin. Some of these include:

  • Parabens – used as a preservative in the cosmetic industry, it is currently under review for safety concerns. They mimic estrogen in the body which can produce undesired effects.
  • Cyclotetrasiloxane – a colorless liquid that is used as a solvent and an anti-foaming agent in products such as shampoos, conditioners, shaving creams, hand creams, etc.
  • DMDM Hydantoin – an antimicrobial agent commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics, shampoos, and hair conditioning products.
  • Formaldehyde – commonly used as an embalming fluid for dead bodies, this chemical can cause cancer.
  • Fragrance – the cosmetic industry uses fragrances to mask the smell of chemicals that are not exactly pleasant at times. The problem with fragrances is that they can contain anywhere from 100 to 300 different chemicals which may be irritating for your skin and scalp.

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What damages could it do?  

The main problem with silicone in hair care products is that it coats your hair strands and prevents them from getting the moisture that they need, while also preventing water from penetrating into the cortex.

Hair becomes dry and brittle when it is not properly hydrated. If you continue to use silicone products, the damage will worsen and your hair will become more damaged each time that you shampoo.

Silicone can also cause split ends if your hair becomes tangled during the process of drying out which causes breaks in the strands. Once they break, there is nothing that can be done to repair it.

Since the silicone is not eliminated with your shampoo, it builds up over time and can cause health problems in the body. The worst aspect of this build-up is that you do not even realize that this is happening.

Your hair may start falling out because of this accumulation which has been proven to be one of the most common symptoms of silicone buildup. The accumulation in the body is known to cause cellular damage and block pores which can lead to health issues such as:

  • Liver problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Skin irritation – This condition causes your skin to become dry, rough, and itchy. In severe cases, you may have a rash all over your body.
  • Damage in the lymph nodes

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How to tell if a shampoo is a silicone-free shampoo

Washed Hair

The best way to detect whether or not your shampoo contains silicone but organic compounds in its ingredients is to read the list of ingredients on the bottle. If you spot any of these words listed, then they are most likely harmful chemicals which you want to stay away from.

  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Phenyl trimethicone

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What is the hair shaft?

Hair shaft is mostly made of keratin which makes up about 95% of hair’s dry weight. Other materials include fat, soluble proteins, melanin, and water.

The average diameter of coarse hair is around 70 micrometers. The length can vary from 1-7 cm depending on the type of hair. The diameter is the same all over the strand of hair which is why it looks round. The cross-section, on the other hand, can be triangular or square-shaped depending on whether the cortex or medulla are present.

Another important part of your hair is the hair cuticle which covers it as skin does for your body. It strengthens your hair strands but also makes it hard for your hair to absorb moisture.

The cuticles are made of scales which are overlapping one another. These layers have ridges that overlap each other. The shape of these ridges will determine the condition of your hair.

If it is straight, then this means that water can travel along with ease and you will have healthy-looking hair. On the other hand, if it is wavy or curled, commonly in curly hair then your hair will be prone to damage and your hairstyle may not last for long.

The cuticle shape can change depending on the environment in which you live. Hot air and excessive sunlight can cause them to curl up while when water enters the picture, they become straighter.

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How does silicone affect the hair shaft?

Silicone does not interact with the protein structure of your hair but it coats them to make them look shinier and provide more volume.

By covering your hair in silicone, you are inhibiting the ability of water to penetrate the cuticles which causes dehydration. You may think that this is a good thing because then the natural oils from your scalp would not be removed but it is the opposite.

It has been proven that excess oils on your head can lead to a lot of problems similar to those which you notice when you do not wash your hair regularly enough. The natural oil from your scalp is meant to seal off moisture and keep the hair hydrated and protect the next layer underneath.

Because of this silicone, the same effect cannot be achieved and you will notice that your hair may start looking greasy as well as losing its volume.

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How does silicone affect the environment?

Cleaning Hair With Shampoo

The negative impact of silicone on the environment is that it can affect aquatic life when they are mistaken for food by fish.

Silicone is not water-soluble which means that it will not dissolve in water or be carried away with currents. Fish will ingest this substance only to find out later that their digestive system has been clogged up because of it. This can ultimately lead to sickness and even death in severe cases.

Another way that the environment is affected by silicone is when they are washed down the drains and into large bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and rivers via hair products that have been rinsed away from people’s heads.

Silicone tends to accumulate over time which leads to an increase in concentration and poses a serious threat because it affects how aquatic life will be able to survive.

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In the end, it is up to you whether you want to use these silicone-based hair products or not. You should know that silicone will not negatively affect your hair just by touching it.

It is only once they have been applied and rinsed off that this can take place. To avoid this from happening, always make sure that you use the products correctly and wash them away with water.

If you ever experience any problems, it is recommended that you stop using products that contain silicone and consult a doctor so you can be properly informed of all potential side effects.

A hairstyle is important because it not only helps define your look but also shows what type of person that you are. But responsibility towards our health and the environment is also important.

Make sure to invest in silicone-free products so you can maintain hair health and protect it against any damage which might be caused by harmful chemicals at the same time protecting our environment.

See Related: Why Should We Care About Climate Change?

Final thoughts

Silicone in shampoo is bad for the environment. It can be pumped into lakes and rivers when people wash their hair, which disrupts or even kill marine life.

Several scientific studies show it’s even harmful to humans because silicone can accumulate in our bodies and affect our hormones or blood cells. And can also cause further damage to our hair.

Shampoos are already part of our daily lives, but choosing silicone-free shampoos won’t hurt. We should always look for natural alternatives to achieve both healthy hair and a healthy environment.


Is silicone in conditioner bad for the environment?

Is silicone in conditioner bad for the environment? Silicone in conditioner is a synthetic ingredient that is non-biodegradable and can accumulate in the environment. While it is not necessarily harmful to the environment, its persistence in the environment can contribute to pollution and harm wildlife. It is important to properly dispose of silicone-containing products and consider alternatives that are more environmentally friendly.

Is it recommended for shampoos to be silicone-free?

Silicone-free shampoos are becoming increasingly popular due to concerns about the environmental impact of the synthetic ingredient. Silicone is a type of plastic that is non-biodegradable and can accumulate in the environment. Additionally, some people find that silicone can weigh down their hair or cause buildup on the scalp.

However, it is important to note that not all types of silicone are harmful and some can actually provide benefits to the hair, such as improving shine and manageability. Ultimately, the decision to use a silicone-free shampoo is a personal one based on individual preferences and values.

Why are silicone-free shampoos better?

Is silicone-free shampoo better? Silicone-free shampoos are better because they do not contain silicones, which can build up on hair and weigh it down over time. Additionally, silicone-free shampoos may be better for the environment as silicones are not biodegradable and can accumulate in waterways.

Are shampoos harmful to the environment?

Is shampoo harmful to the environment? Shampoos can be harmful to the environment due to their chemical ingredients and the way they are disposed of. Many shampoos contain chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances that can pollute waterways and harm aquatic life.

Additionally, when shampoo bottles are not properly recycled, they can end up in landfills and take hundreds of years to decompose, contributing to environmental pollution.

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