blonde woman with wavy hair
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Silicones have created such a huge debate amongst the naturally curly hair community. These ingredients tend to get a bad rap when used in hair and skincare products because some silicones block all moisture out of the hair cuticles, causing dry, brittle or sticky curls. However, there is one silicone in particular that can be beneficial to hair during the summer months. It acts as a heat protectant and works wonders for frizz-prone, textured hair, and you may recognize the name, "dimethicone."

Dimethicone's pretty popular, actually

You will find Dimethicone in a large range of beauty and hair products usually within the first five ingredients after water. This is due to its slick lubricating coat that helps with detangling hair and smoothing any imperfections on the skin. Dimethicone is a silicone-based polymer, meaning that it is “a molecule made up of several smaller units bonded together” says Dr. Frank Lipman. It provides curls with sleekness and shine, and is mostly used in conditioners, stylers, and detanglers. 

This ingredient coats the hair strands creating a barrier against the humidity. As we all know, humidity and a high dew point cause curly hair to have more frizz, especially in the summertime. This is due to the larger number of water molecules in the air. These molecules create a bond on the hair causing the hair to fold back on itself at a greater rate, which we experience as frizz.

It blocks humidity and prevents frizz.

Dimethicone coats the hair strands, creating a barrier against the humidity. Humidity affects curly hair in the summer time due to the higher number of water molecules in the air. Its bond on the hair causes the hair to fold back on itself at a greater rate (commonly known as a frizz halo).

If your hair frizzes and poofs up quickly outside in the heat, try a hair serum or heat protector that contains Dimethicone to reduce shrinkage and frizz. This works by sealing moisture in and out of the hair shaft, preventing frizzies from sticking out of the hair.

Still, many curlies avoid it

Since Dimethicone is not water soluble, your scalp is prone to more build-up that sometimes cannot be rinsed away easily. Dimethicone sticks to hair strands, and to remove them you have to use a shampoo with sulfates or a cleanser/no-poo with the ingredient ‘Cocamidopropyl betaine’ in it.

Many curlies avoid both silicones and sulfates in their curly hair regimen, but not all silicones across the board are non water soluble. One way to enjoy the benefits of Dimethicone without resorting to the use of sulfates is to use products that contain the ingredient ‘Dimethicone Copolyol’ --this type of silicone is water-soluble and will give you less build-up and can be rinsed out with the water washing method.

Popular curly hair products (with Dimethicone)

Many of the Holy Grail hair products that are often reviewed and praised in the curly hair community actually contain Dimethicone, you may even find the common ingredient on the labels of your favorite products:

Here is a list of water soluble and non soluble silicones, so you can decide for yourself if your hair products require the use of a sulfate cleanser or not.

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)

  • Trimethylsilyl Amodimethicone
  • Dimethicone
  • Phenyl Trimethicone
  • Cetearyl Methicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Amodimethicone
  • Stearyl Dimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone
  • Stearoxy Dimethicone

Do you avoid products that contain Dimethicone? Or do you find that they help reduce your frizz?