The beauty of the hair depends on their health. A normal and balanced production of sebum protects the scalp and hair, which is shiny and soft, we are not plagued by itching and irritation and the hair roots are strong. For a bright and healthy hair, an essential role is played by the products we use to wash and nourish the hair, such as shampoos, conditioners and masks. Most of the products on the market promise safe and quick results and, in fact, after using them the hair actually looks very beautiful. But is it really so? Let us better understand by going deeper into the mode of action of the ingredients most commonly found in hair products, such as silicones and mineral oils.
Then, we will see how natural products work without these substances.
Are silicones good or bad for your hair?
Silicones are polymers, deriving from crystalline quartz, which are added to shampoos, conditioners and hair masks to give hair shine and remove frizz. In addition, silicones are safe, as they are not toxic to the body. So all right? Not exactly. The problem with silicones is that they form a film around the hair taking the place of the sebum, whose physiological function is precisely to naturally protect the hair, keep it hydrated, soft and bright (D Souza et al, Indian J Dermatol, 2015). However, in the case of silicones, the artificial film that is created also prevents nutrients from reaching the hair, impoverishing and damaging it.
Therefore, externally the appearance is that of a healthy and shiny hair but only due to the coverage given by the silicones, under this film the hair dries up.
In addition to this, the film formed by silicones remains on the hair, is resistant and is not washed off with water but only with some types of surfactants, such as sulphate surfactants, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which however are aggressive and act by depleting and irritating the skin (Dias et al, Skin Appendage Disord., 2019 - Bondi et al, Environ Health Insights, 2015). Otherwise the silicones persist on the hair leaving residues. Silicones commonly found in hair products are dimethicone, but also cyclic siloxane, which has been shown to damage the skin barrier (Mojsiewicz-Pieńkowska et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2020).
Are mineral oils good or bad for your hair?
Mineral oils, such as paraffin, are often used in hair products, which help give the hair a shiny appearance and decrease friction between the fibers. However, as has been shown, mineral oils do not prevent the loss of hair proteins and do not preserve its elasticity and flexibility. Instead, vegetable oils such as coconut oil have been shown to be effective in preventing the loss of hair proteins (Dias et al, Int J Trichology., 2015).
Natural products without silicones and mineral oils
There are natural products on the market without silicones and mineral oils, but containing vegetable oils, with the function of moisturizing and nourishing the hair, and essential oils, capable of stimulating microcirculation and hair growth. For example, as mentioned, coconut oil is one of the most effective oils to penetrate the hair and protect it from the inside, counteracting the loss of proteins and leaving the hair soft and shiny, as well as decreasing the formation of dandruff (Rele et al, J Cosmet Sci, 2003). Argan oil protects hair from oxidative stress while, among the essential oils, noteworthy are lavender, rosemary and cedarwood oil, which stimulate hair growth (Sharifi et al, J Cosmet Dermatol , 2022 - Lee et al, Toxicol Res, 2016). Hence, natural products are definitely to be preferred for hair care, since they are skin and hair friendly, do not suffocate the tissues and bring important benefits. However, after many years of using products rich in silicones and mineral oils, some problems may be encountered in switching to more natural products. The difficulties are only in the initial stages, when you make the transition from a type of product rich in silicones to one that does not contain these substances. At the beginning, the hair will have to get rid of the silicone film and will appear more dry and brittle, as indeed they are actually under the cover created by silicones. Over the course of a few weeks the new products will begin to take effect, to really nourish the hair which will regain health, strength and vitality, this time really and not just in appearance. And we can say this because we have experienced it firsthand.