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To love or not to love silicones…is that really the question or can the question be can we do both? Silicones are not the enemy but rather some silicones are to curly girls and for good reason. They can weigh our hair down with a vengeance and then stay on our strands and scalp if not removed thoroughly. Despite their negative connotations, silicones can do a lot of good for skin and hair, namely giving a protective barrier to strands so heat styling tools cannot cause heat damage. They also make hair smoother, softer, and easier to manage so in all fairness not all silicones are bad. In the same token, not all silicones are good either and it takes learning about each to find out which category they fall into and whether or not they are good for curly girls. 

Good vs. bad silicones

There are good silicones for hair as well as bad, and the good tend to be water-soluble, which allow for easy removal and are great for curly girls who co-wash often. The bad would be the non water-soluble silicones, which require either using a clarifying shampoo or a shampoo with sulfates to remove them. Whether water-soluble or non-water soluble, all types of silicones coat the hair and need to be removed.

Read more: Silicones: Good, Bad, and the Ugly

What is stearyl dimethicone?

Stearyl dimethicone is a siloxane polymer that is a synthetic skin-conditioning agent. It adds opacity with a protective layer that gives hair a silky and softer feel. This waxy ingredient is often used in skin and hair emulsions, color cosmetics, and some deodorant sticks.

Pros

Stearyl dimethicone is a non-greasy silicone that adds a silky gloss to hair and improves pigment dispersion. It is safe to use on skin and hair and often used because of the silky feel or slip it gives to hair without being or looking greasy.

Cons

Stearyl dimethicone requires a sulfate shampoo or a clarifying shampoo for thorough removal. It can leave your roots looking and feeling greasy (over time if not properly removed). Always remember to follow up with a deep conditioner after using a sulfate shampoo to prevent further damage from an open cuticle.

Dimethicone vs. Dimethiconol

According to scientific consultant Yolanda Anderson, both of these two  polymers often get mistaken for one another because they are essentially  equivalent in their performance in regard to the amount of deposition and 
when coming hair wet. The differences lie in their performance in other  instances occurs because dimethiconol has an increased molecular weight  and has a different end group with hydroxyl (-OH) groups and most of those  groups contain alcohols. Despite those differences they are very similar.

The Takeaway

Stearyl dimethicone can give a silky gloss and make hair look and feel softer, but the buildup will be problematic and if used often will mean a continuous use of sulfates or clarifying shampoos. Curly hair cannot afford using sulfates regularly so this type of silicone should be used sparingly if your hair cannot manage shampoo frequently.