I bet if you look at the ingredients label on one of your conditioners you’ll see this weird looking word: Dimethicone.
It’s pretty safe to say that almost any word you see ending in “cone” in natural hair products is a silicone. So this one is no different. But I want to discuss the effects dimethicone has on our hair types and which naturals should flock to it and which should cautiously stray away. It’s all up to the type of natural you are!
Although certain silicones have their benefits, like making the hair easier to detangle and sealing in moisture, most are not water soluble. This can be an issue as it can actually make your hair dry in addition to causing unwanted build-up.
But this is halfway the case with dimethicone. It’s been said to provide great slip to your hair and control frizz. Dimethicone, although a silicone, acts as a permeable water barrier. This simply means that it forms a thin barrier to water but doesn’t necessarily keep it all from entering or exiting. I guess it just slows the process.
Dimethicone is not really about the hair type you have as it’s more about your hair’s porosity level. However Type 4 hair will always have a friend in silicones since your cuticle layers are thinner and your hair type is more prone to damage.
The key is to actually get it into your hair! But you have to do it the right way.
The benefit of this ingredient is the permeable water barrier it provides.
Dimethicone is most common in conditioner sprays and creams. Some naturals may become frustrated that their hair is dry even after putting mounds of hair product on it. If your product contains dimethicone, the dryness could be due to it preventing water from absorbing into the hair. And because this ingredient is not simply washed out with water (because it’s not water-soluble) it could still prevent water from entering the hair cuticles.
Make sure you check your leave-in conditioners!
Dimethicone is a common ingredient in leave-in conditioners because it locks in that moisture. Many naturals make the mistake of assuming leave-in conditioners mean more moisture, when in reality most are used to keep in the water you have.
The order of the first five ingredients are extremely important and the most relevant. I would suggest to only treat dimethicone seriously if it’s in those first five (after water). Products that have dimethicone first, second or third contain a higher percentage of it than products that list it fourth or beyond. Consider that when structuring the order of your product regimen.
So for my low porosity sistas, instead of using products with dimethicone when you first hop out of the shower or when you’re ready to begin your day, use products rich in glycerin, panthenol, hexanetriol, propylene glycol, sorbitol, and sodium (just to name a few) and THEN finish with dimethicone as it will seal in the water and hydrating ingredients you’ve put into your hair with a thin barrier. And if you need more protection, then step it up with a stronger sealing ingredient (like products that contain petroleum, araffin, butyl stearate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetyl/cetearyl stearate, etc.)
For my high porosity sistas, dimethicone could work as soon as you’re ready! Sometimes it’s like a race against the clock to lock in water before it completely evaporates from your hair so keeping a good product with dimethicone by the tub could save you a bit. Look for products where dimethicone is not listed first or second so you can still mix it with other moisturizing products once you do leave the bathroom.
Remember: Dimethicone is not water soluble.
It can be suppressed and rubbed off to a small extent but water is not enough to completely rinse it out. So it is possible to experience build-up with this ingredient. Clarifying shampoos or shampoos that contain sulfate are the best ways to completely rinse it out. I knooow there’s some naturals that hear the word “sulfate” and run for the hills. This is mainly due the entire natural hair community deeming it as the devil’s nectar right? Look, if sulfate is what you have to use in order to keep you hair healthy and free of product build-up then so be it! I use it! Just because most of the natural hair community is throwing stones doesn’t mean sulfate has no benefits. Everything is not for everybody but you’ll never know until you try it first!
In the end, dimethicone works for who it’s going to work for. I can’t really tell you who should avoid it altogether. I can only tell you the characteristics of it. So it’s up to you to decipher whether that ingredient agrees with your hair and your regimen. There are plenty other silicones out there for you to choose from but at least now you know a little bit more about dimethicone. Enjoy and experiment!