Silicones: The Mighty List for Buildup Prevention

Silicones, waxes, and non-natural oils can build up in hair over time making it feel coated, locking out moisture, and impeding dye uptake from natural dyes. They can be removed with shampoo or other clarifying methods, but very gentle or natural cleansing methods my not be enough to take them off.

Understanding the different types of silicone will let you know if you’re at risk for buildup from your products. This doesn’t mean that ~silicones are evil~ it just means that you should use what your hair likes, but also know if you might need to clarify more often. By extension, if your hair is fragile or you’re a chemical dye user and don’t want it to fade so fast, using a water-soluble silicone (or no silicones at all) removes, or reduces, the need for clarifying.

Silicones that Risk Buildup

Silicone ingredients end with the suffixes -one, -onol, or -xane. Silicones that are most prone to buildup and that are best avoided if you are experiencing dry hair, snappy hair,  poor dye uptake from henna, or your hair feeling coated These include:

  • Amodimethicone
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone Cetearyl methicone
  • Bis-Amino PEG/PPG-41/3 Aminoethyl PG-Propyl Dimethicone
  • Bis-Aminopropyl Dimethicone
  • Bis-Cetearyl Amodimethicone
  • Bis-Hydroxy/Methoxy Amodimethicone
  • Bis-Phenylpropyl Dimethicone
  • Cetearyl methicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cetyl PEG/PPG-15/15 Butyl Ether Dimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Cyclopentasiloxane and C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer Cyclohexasiloxane
  • Di-Isostearoyl Trimethylolpropane Siloxy Silicate
  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethicone Propyl PG-Betaine
  • Dimethicone/Vinyldimethicone Crosspolymer
  • Dimethiconol
  • Diphenyl Dimethicone
  • Disiloxane
  • Divynildimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer
  • Hexamethyldisiloxane
  • PCA Dimethicone
  • Phenyl Trimethicone
  • Phenylpropyldimethylsiloxysilicate
  • Polysilicone-18 Cetyl Phosphate
  • Silicone Quaternium-16
  • Silicone Quaternium-18
  • Silicone Quaternium-22
  • Simethicone Stearoxy (or Stearyl) Dimethicone
  • Stearoxy Dimethicone
  • Stearyl Dimethicone
  • Trimethyl Silylamodimethicone
  • Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone
  • Trimethylsiloxysilicate
  • Trimethylsiloxysilicate
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone
  • Trisiloxane

Waxes and Non-natural Oils

Waxes and non-natural oils that can cause buildup include:

  • Bees wax
  • Candelilla wax
  • Mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum)
  • Petrolatum

Low or No Buildup Silicones & Other Ingredients

These ingredients are exceptions and are either water-soluble silicones (meaning they dissolve and rinse off with just water), look like silicones but are not, or are other ingredients that are safe to use with limited risk of buildup:

  • Benzophenone-2, ( or 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • DEA PG-Propyl PEG/PPG-18/21 Dimethicone
  • Dimethicone Copolyol
  • Dimethicone PEG-8 Phosphate
  • Dimethicone-PG Diethylmonium Chloride
  • Emulsifying Wax
  • Hydrolyzed Silk PG-Propyl Methylsilanediol Crosspolymer
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat protein/hydroxypropyl polysiloxane and cystine/silicone co-polymers
  • Lauryl methicone copolyol
  • Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone
  • Methychloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Natural oils: Avocado oil, Olive oil, Coconut oil, etc.
  • PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone
  • PEG-12 Dimethicone
  • PEG-33 (and) PEG-8 Dimethicone (and) PEG-14
  • PEG-40/PPG-8 Methylaminopropyl/Hydropropyl Dimethicone Copolymer
  • PEG-7 Amodimethicone
  • PEG-8 Disteramonium Chloride PG-Dimethicone
  • PEG-Dimethicone
  • PEG-Hydrogenated Castor Oil
  • PPG-8 Methylaminopropyl, Hydroxypropyl Dimethicone Copolymer
  • Silicone Quaternium-8
  • Silicone Quaternium-17

Removing Buildup

There are several method of clarifying, but the easiest one is a baking soda rinse, followed by a clarifying shampoo. A clarifying shampoo is a more aggressive shampoo that removes not only the day-to-day oil and dirt from the hair but also the buildup from styling products, oils, or other leave-ins. You don’t need an expensive salon brand—an inexpensive grocery brand one is perfect. It’s better to do multiple washes than to risk damaging your hair by going for something crazy and overpowered like baking soda or dish soap.


Following up with a chelating rinse like Alluvial will also remove hard water and mineral build up from your hair.

Read more in Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs


This giant list of silicones is excerpted from Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs, which has tons of information if you’re hungry for more! More than 300 pages of text, pictures, charts, diagrams, and recipes make Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs the definitive resource for natural hair coloring. With it, you’ll be able to give yourself the hair you’ve always wanted, naturally.

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