Read more: Silicones: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
What are silicones and how do they affect our hair?
Silicones are substances composed of organic and inorganic polymers and “are produced by reacting silicon—one of the earth's most common elements- with methyl chloride and further reaction with water which removes the chlorine atom,” according to the American Chemistry Council. Silicones are manufactured in several forms namely liquid, solid, and semi-solid, greases, oils, and rubber. They are also hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. When it comes to silicones on the hair we find that the differences matter greatly. For one, there are three types that can be found in our hair care products.
- Water-soluble (the good): These types of silicones dissolve in water and easy to rinse out of hair and without buildup on the scalp and hair.
- Semi-soluble (the bad): These types of silicones do not fully dissolve into water but most evaporate from the hair while the rest can be washed out by a shampoo. May cause buildup on the scalp and hair but are still easy to remove.
- Non-water soluble (the ugly): Considered the worst of silicones for hair, as they will cause buildup on the scalp and hair and can only be removed by a shampoo with sulfates or a clarifying shampoo.
What is cetearyl methicone?
Cetearyl methicone is a non-water soluble silicone that is a siloxane polymer. It functions as a skin-conditioning agent or emollient. It aids in adding a protective barrier to the hair strands that allows for better slip as well as a protection to the hair for heat applications. Cetearyl methicone aids in protecting the skin. It is known as a barrier ingredient that provides excellent lubricity and spreadability.
Non-water soluble silicones, like cetearyl methicone, are great for creating a protective barrier around the hair strands and will keep water in while also creating slip to the hair. It will make the hair feel softer and help to keep hair from detangling. They are great at protecting the hair from heat tools directly damaging the hair and causing heat damage.
Cetearyl methicone will create buildup on the scalp and hair when not cleansed off regularly, especially for fine strands. To remove this ingredient from the hair, it must be cleansed with a clarifying shampoo or a shampoo with sulfates, and many curly girls steer clear of sulfates because they are extremely drying to our strands. The coating they impart on the hair gives the impression that one has healthier hair because it makes it softer, removes fizz and friction, but it is only cosmetic or superficial. It only gives the appearance of healthier hair but it does not actually make the hair healthier.
To remove this ingredient from the hair, it must be cleansed with a clarifying shampoo or a shampoo with sulfates
Cetearyl methicone is a non-water soluble water silicones that imparts buildup on the scalp and hair. It makes hair softer or gives it slip, but it merely coats the hair and does not add any health value other than aesthetic. It is a good ingredient in a heat protectant, as it creates a barrier on the hair strands and protects the hair from heat styling tools.