Several questions came up in response to yesterday’s post on silicones by our Resident Curl Chemist Nicole Hollis of Hair Liberty. She addressed them in an email and I thought I’d share them with you!
Q. Okay, so I’m using silicones again… which shampoo, or better yet, which type of surfecant removes them?

A. The answer is that any shampoo can mitigate build up. Build up is a term that’s been defined and redefined by the Internet and I think people are really just saying “how do I keep my hair from getting really dirty?”. Answer = Wash it with shampoo!

The surfactant discussion confuses people because “sulfate-free” is a marketing term. Even if a “harsh” surfactant is used in the shampoo like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, the product maker can mix it with a really mild surfactant like Cocamidopropyl Betaine to make a gentle, but effective shampoo. Effective enough to remove excess silicone, but not so strong to strip the hair. So, you can’t analyze a shampoo based on the sheer presence of the ingredient, the amount and combination of surfactants is critically important.
To give you a little more insight, my worst hair setback was caused by an organic shampoo targeted to naturals.. It is “sulfate-free” and only uses a very mild surfactant, Decyl Glucoside. The problem was that it was not pH balanced and my hair got totally stripped. Clean, clean, clean…no cones left on the strand whatsoever. And you know what? My hair looked Awful. Fly aways, feather-light, completely uncontrollable. I suddenly realized how much progress my hair had made because after one week with that shampoo, all of the progress was literally washed away.

Also, we don’t want to remove all of the silicones, most silicones (amodimethicone for example) are attracted to the damaged areas of the strand (like two magnets). If it doesn’t come off with shampoo, that’s because the damaged area won’t let it go. It is the closest thing we can get to permanent repair.

For more information on ‘gentle’ surfacants, see THIS ARTICLE.

Q. Which shampoos do you recommend? Nikki likes Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo,
CURLS Curlicious Curls Cleansing Cream, and Giovanni.

A. Those are all good. The Giovanni shampoos are all pretty similar, but Smooth as Silk looks like one of the better options there.

To assess a shampoo at a glance, see if it has more than 1 surfactant (there’s usually at least 1 ingredient ending in -ate, and coco betaine). If they have a combination of surfactants and they are marketed as gentle or for curls that’s a good bet. Elucence and CURLS cream stand out from Giovanni because they also contain polyquats. For all intents and purposes, polyquats are the same as silicones, but with more humidity protection. I’ll definitely talk about them in the ant-frizz post coming soon! Polyquats are often used as the “conditioner” in conditioning shampoos.

Q. I’ve always wondered– after you seal, can you moisturize and seal again in a few days? I would think that the moisture can’t get through the layer of oil on the hair.

A. Yes, you can re-moisturize after using a silicone. The water may absorb more slowly if you’ve used a serum, but it will still absorb, just moisturize as usual and let it be. With regard to silicone in conditioner, re-moisturizing is not affected at all. People co-wash with Herbal Essences all the time and don’t worry about the silicones in that affecting their moisturizing routines. Silicones are not extra thick (serums are usually lighter than castor oil) and they are not glue-like. Most of the time you can’t feel them on the hair at all, and if you do, it translates as softness.

**Got questions for Nicole? Shoot me an email and use ‘Nicole the Chemist’ as the subject line!**

In the meantime, check out her site Hair Liberty for more information!