Our CurlChemist gives you the true facts about silicones

We always get lots of questions about silicones, as they are in so many products and are of ongoing concern to many curly-haired consumers. I thought this month we could tackle a couple of those questions in a quick, practical manner (hopefully) to aid in the seemingly never-ending process of ingredient scrutiny and product selection.

Which Silicones are Water Soluble?

It is difficult to actually rank the silicones in order of water solubility, simply because they are usually either soluble or not. Most silicones are water insoluble due to being non-polar, but there are a few that are chemically modified in order to render them more compatible with water. The following table lists the main types of silicones found in hair care formulations. It also indicates whether or not they are water soluble and includes which surfactants can be used to ensure good removal of the silicone from the hair. Studies have found that the water-insoluble silicones show no appreciable buildup when a shampoo containing one of the recommended surfactants was used.


Silicone

Water soluble?

Recommended cleansing agents

Dimethicone

No

SLS, SLES, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, ALS, or ALES

Dimethiconol

No

SLS, SLES, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, ALS, or ALES

Phenyl Trimethicone

No

SLS, SLES, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, ALS, or ALES

Amodimethicone

No

SLS, SLES, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, ALS, or ALES

Cyclomethicone

No

cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, other mild surfactants, or conditioner washing

PEG-modified dimethicone

Yes

cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, other mild surfactants, or conditioner washing

Dimethicone copolyol

Yes

cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, other mild surfactants, or conditioner washing

MORE: Water Soluble Silicones 101