Using Silicones in Formulating Hair Care Products

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Introduction
A new wave of consumer preference is shifting focus to Silicon-based high-end hair products. Often low in cost of production, hair care products formulated with conditioning ingredients that impart  qualities like heat resistant and fibre strengthening often fetch high profit margins. The hair care division of the general Cosmetic Industry takes the biggest  pie compared to skin products. The heavy users of these products (mostly women) focus all their attention on personal appearance (especially hair) and can go to greater lengths (financial spending) in securing what seems to them as “perfect-look” in the society

Silicones are actually among the most effective ingredients in both hair care products.
Silicones work by covering the hair strand with a thin hydrophobic (waterproof) coating and aid in reducing the porosity of the hair-which in turn makes the hair strand (shaft) less likely to absorb humidity (Which is why it’s great for smoothing and straightening!) The hydrophobic property of silicones offers great conditioning benefits to the hair because they reduce moisture loss from the inside of the hair. Silicones also lubricate the surface of the hair making it feel smoother and easier to comb. Hair care products with silicones as ingredients make your hair feel slippery and less tangled. Some silicones like D-Met C coat hair, providing great shine and conditioning to the hair.

Types of Silicones
Different silicones used in hair care that exhibit different properties. At least four types of commonly used silicones in hair product formulation are popular with high-end brands found in the Kenyan market. Some types of silicones are volatile, which means they evaporate and won’t build up on your hair. These volatile silicones give the hair a silky, smooth feel and leave the hair with incredible slip when wet and are often found in both leave-on and rinse-off products. They are also best used in conditioning shampoos.

Others are water-soluble, lightweight and provide very little buildup. They can comfortably be used in conditioning shampoos.

Silicones that have “amo”, “amine” or “amino” in their name (often categorized as amodimethicones) are a different kind of silicone that are chemically modified to stick to the hair better. That means they condition well but they can also be more challenging to remove. Amodimethicones are commonly used in leave-in conditioners.

Negative Effects
Nevertheless, anything good has its bad side, however the benefits of using silicones in your products by far  outweigh the few negatives associated with them. Use of silicones in your hair products occasionally lead to Silicone-build-up and heavy coating which makes the hair more likely to attract dirt and pollutants from the air, occasionally making the hair feel slightly  weighed down.

Some silicones (not all) are water insoluble, and therefore can be difficult to remove. However, this property makes them good for formulating hair serums and other leave-on products.

Advice
Herman, a medically trained senior industrial formulation scientist advises that the “build-up” occasioned by some types of silicones can be dealt with by washing hair with a surfactant based shampoo. “On the label of your product, he says, “always advice heavy users of your silicone based products (particularly those with D-Met C), to apply copious amounts of shampoo to lather, rinse and repeat”. He continues: “If you want the benefits of silicone without the weight, look for lightweight silicones. These ingredients won’t build up but still give your formulations very good  conditioning and shine benefits”.

Summary
Silicones are very effective conditioners, provide great shine and can help smooth and straighten hair. The best shampoos in the market, Leave-on and Wash-off hair conditioners use silicones in the formulation. Hair serums, sprays and other products that make the hair manageable (like easy combing) are carefully formulated with a variety of silicones that offer such benefits. Products with the catchy phrase “sheen” have silicones in them 

Article By: Muthoni B.CEO, Betty Industrial Chemicals Ltd

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