How To Easily Remove Silicone Buildup From Hair

how to remove silicone buildup from hair

I’m a huge fan of “>silicones-laden conditioners. Yes, you’ve read that right. I love silicones, the ingredients everyone loves to hate.

They make my life so much easier! My sleek, straight hair gets all tangled and knotted up after shampooing. Detangling it used to be a nightmare. Until I discovered silicones. Now, the comb glides so easily through it.

And they shine! Thanks to their smoothing action, they beautifully reflect shine, giving some life back to my lackluster hair. What’s not to love?

Buildup. Used regularly, silicones can leave a residue in your hair. Ugh! But I don’t mind much. Silicones buildup sounds a lot worse than it really is. In fact, it’s super easy to remove. You just need to wash your hair as normal. Huh?

Why Silicones Buildup In Hair?

Silicones do a lot more than making your hair easy to comb through. They also protect it from damage by forming a protective barrier around it. Here’s how it works.

When hair is damaged, the cuticle opens, allowing moisture to evaporate. When that happens, hair becomes dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.

The protective barrier silicones create prevents that. It also protects your locks from the drying heat from your blow dryer and other styling tools.

But they can do this only if they stick to hair, obviously. And that can, overtime, leave some buildup.

How Much Buildup Do Silicones Cause?

That depends on several factors: the type of silicone you use, how much you use it, and how often. Cyclomethicone, for example, evaporates off your hair pretty quickly. It never builds up. Instead dimethicone, one of the heaviest silicones, stays around until you wash it off.

Even so, you may never feel the buildup. I don’t. I wash my hair every other day (it’s oily, so I can’t wait too long between washes), so before I slather on a new layer of silicones-laden conditioner, the old one has already gone off the drain.

If you, instead, wait longer between washes, or like to use a ton of haircare products – rinse-off conditioner, leave-in conditioner, mask, heat-protective spray, styling mousse, and whatever – silicones will build up much faster.

You’ll notice when that happens. You hair starts feeling heavy, loses volume, and looks greasy. But it’s not damaged. It just needs a good wash.

Sunsilk Volumizing Shampoo Teddy Charles

How To Remove Silicone Buildup From Hair

The secret to easily remove silicone buildup from hair? A good old wash. Forget co-washing or no poo. That won’t work. What you need is a shampoo with surfactants.

What are they? A group of ingredients that helps water mix with oils and dirt, so they can easily be rinsed away. Unfortunately, surfactants don’t have the best reputation either. The problem? Some surfactants, like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), can be very irritating.

But here’s the thing. Something that needs to remove dirt stuck to your body can’t be too gentle. If it were, you’d have to spend ages scrubbing your body. You’d irritate your skin, and some of the dirt would still be stuck to it!

Of course, surfactants shouldn’t be harsh and irritating either. You need to find a balance. That’s why you should stay away from shampoos with sodium lauryl sulfate, and opt for gentler alternatives, like sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, or cocamidopropyl betaine.

Wash your hair regularly with a shampoo that contains these ingredients (like Osmo Extreme Volume Shampoo) and you won’t have to worry about silicones buildup on your hair. For best results, choose a shampoo without silicones. A 1994 study has found that such a shampoo can remove up to 90% of the residue from a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner!

The Bottom Line

Contrary to popular opinion, silicones have many benefits for hair. But, they can also cause buildup. Luckily, this is easy to fix. Any well-formulated shampoo will get rid of it quickly, before it has the time to accumulate too much.

Do you like silicones, or do you avoid them because you’re afraid of the buildup? If so, will you use them now?

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  1. Regn says

    Does it mean that one good wash with these surfactants will remove all build up? Most of the shampoos actually contain such surfactants. That’s why I don’t really understand why there’s so much panic about silicones. :)

    • Gio says

      Regn, yep. Unless you use A TON of products with silicones and then wash your hair with VERY gentle surfactants, buildup is not a problem at all. I guess the whole thing originated from natural companies that need to “demonize” ingredients they don’t use to make their products more appealing.

  2. says

    I’m a big fan of silicones for my thick, coarse hair. As I mentioned in a post this week, I’m very happy with Briogeo shampoo that, in spite of not having sodium lauryl sulfate, it definitely leaves my hair feeling clean. I’ve gotta look at the ingred list again to see which of the other surfactants are in there. Very interesting post!
    Allison´s last blog post ..Mermaid Nail Polish Shades: Deborah Lippman & Pure IceMy Profile

    • Gio says

      Allison, glad you enjoyed it. Silicones can do some great things for hair. It’s a shame that a lot of people refuse to use it, as all that’s needed to deal with the buildup is a well-formulated shampoo.

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