A wide range of beauty products contain silicone. While this protective material is completely safe and beneficial for many hair types, some find that it weighs their hair down, making it appear dull and lifeless. Silicone-free hair products are a convenient alternative and can keep your hair nourished and soft without adding weight to your hair.
Whether your hair's curly, straight, greasy or dry, you'll find everything you need to pick the perfect silicone-free conditioner in our buying guide. We've searched sites such as Amazon and John Lewis to compile a list of ten recommendations for affordable, nourishing conditioners - and there's not an ounce of silicone in sight! To ensure our info is extra informative, we've teamed up with Dermatologist Felipe Patarreiu.
Felipe Partarrieu is a dermatologist, who is GMC registered with a full licence to practise in the UK. Specialising in cosmeceuticals, facial skin care, and hair disorders, we worked with Felipe to bring you top quality information to help you make informed buying decisions and understand more about what goes onto your skin.
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Felipe Partarrieu is a final year dermatology resident, who is GMC registered with a full licence to practise in the UK. Specialising in cosmeceuticals, facial skin care, and hair disorders, we worked with Felipe to bring you top quality information to help you make informed buying decisions and understand more about what goes onto your skin.
In hair conditioner, silicones (which end in 'conol' or 'cone' - e.g. 'dimethicone') help the hair shaft retain moisture by coating it in a fine layer that smoothes frizz and imperfections. However, the silicone layer also prevents moisture from penetrating the hair, sometimes attracting dirt and build-up that can leave some hair feeling heavy and potentially cause damage.
The key to deciding whether silicone-free hair care is for you depends on your hair type. Thick, coarse hair types may find silicone works well to smooth rough tresses, but fine hair can be weighed down and become limp, making silicone-free conditioners a much better option.
Conditioners with a thick, heavy consistency can feel great on damaged and frizzy hair, but can weigh fine hair down, leaving it heavy and floppy after over-use. Conditioners and masks with a lighter consistency work well for greasier hair types as they nourish the ends without any excess oils.
Unlike silicone, these two oils have a molecular structure that allows them to fully penetrate the hair, repairing damage from within rather than (literally) glossing over the problem. The trick with conditioners heavy in plant and fruit oils is only to apply the product to the ends of your hair if it tends to be oily at the root.
Though the word alcohol can be alarming in cosmetics, two other beneficial ingredients are cetyl and cetearyl alcohol. These are actually fatty alcohols derived from plant oils which act as an emollient; providing moisture for hair and skin too. They can also lubricate the strands of your hair extra deep, making light of de-tangling post shower, helping you avoid knots tugging at your comb.
Silk proteins can also reinforce hair as they contain cysteine; one of four amino acids involved in keratin production. Silk amino acids in turn have a jelly-like structure which fuses hair fibre together to provide both elasticity and strength. It is worth noting that protein-rich conditioners can cause brittleness in hair with low porosity (meaning the hair doesn’t absorb water quickly).
Sea kelp is also packed with nutrients damaged hair loves, from potassium, iron, and magnesium to vitamins A, B1 and 2, C, D, and E. It contains more natural calcium than any other food – a mineral of great importance for hair strength. So opt for conditioners with a high concentration of sea kelp if your hair is weak.
Aloe vera is high in proteolytic enzymes which are vital to the reproduction of skin cells on your scalp. The soothing plant oil is also a good ingredient to seek out if your roots are itchy or irritated, and used on the ends of hair can create a mirror-like shine.
Where possible, we highly recommend looking for silicone-free conditioners that are vegan and/or cruelty-free. Vegan conditioners are those without any animal-derived ingredients. They're usually easy to spot and will be labelled as such - often bearing a Peta or Vegan Society seal of approval - but if not, check the ingredients list for common culprits such as milk, honey, keratin and silk proteins.
Cruelty-free products are those whose ingredients have not been tested on animals. Look out for a verified logo cruelty-free logo or consult a list written by an internet authority such as this one. We're sure you agree that both vegan and cruelty-free conditioners are worth seeking out. Bear in mind, however, that not all vegan products are cruelty-free, and vice versa, though the two often intersect.
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Be Curly Conditioner
Tame and Strengthen Unruly Curls
Double Effect Nourishing Conditioner
A Cruelty-Free Conditioner Than Can Promote Hair Growth
Cocomino Marula Cream Conditioner
A Nourishing Conditioner From a Dedicated Silicone-Free Brand
Faith in Nature
Stimulating Rosemary Conditioner
Affordable and Gives Volume to Limp Locks
Moisture Rich Curl Conditioner
A Lightweight Hydrating Formula That Detangles and Smooths
Natural Hydrating Conditioner
A Vegan Conditioner That's Completely Cruelty-Free
Botanical Shine Conditioner for Dry or Damaged Hair
Natural Hydration for Dry and Damaged Locks
Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Conditioner
A Gentle Formula for Strong, Immaculate Curls
Amino Acid Conditioner｜200 ml
Protein Power from Root to Tip
Pantene Pro-V Miracles
Lift 'N' Volume Silicone Free Thickening Conditioner
A Nutrient-Packed Conditioner to Protect Your Hair From Styling Damage
Roots calls its silicone-free conditioner a 'double effect' conditioner because it performs two functions. First, it strengthens and revitalises the hair and scalp. It's even been proven to help reduce hair loss when used as part of Roots' three-step system.
It also uses baobab oil, aloe vera and moringa oil to moisturise your hair, keeping it shiny, hydrated and nourished. Better yet, it's completely vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, making it a fantastic all-around choice.
Drunk Elephant is a brand committed to creating beauty products that don't use silicone or other harmful ingredients; instead, packing them with active ingredients that benefit the health of your skin. They've teamed up with world-famous hairstylist Chris McMillan for this conditioner.
It consists of a range of beneficial plant oils and butter that soften and smooth your hair without weighing it down while also protecting it from styling damage. It also has a naturally sweet almond oil scent. Yum!
A conditioner that moisturises your hair without weighing it down is something of a holy grail for those with curly locks. Look no further than this lightweight, yet moisture-rich, curl conditioner from celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess.
It's fantastic for once or twice a week washes, and as well as moisturising your curls, it also boosts their shine while softening and detangling them, and isn't that what everyone wants from a silicone-free conditioner?
Tested by the Swiss Vitamin Institute, this silicone-free conditioner is packed full of nutrients that protect your hair from styling damage. The only major downside is that Pantene isn't yet a cruelty-free company.
Written and researched by Annie Hopkins
No. 1: Aveda｜Be Curly Conditioner
No. 2: Roots｜Double Effect Nourishing Conditioner
No. 3: Drunk Elephant｜Cocomino Marula Cream Conditioner
No. 4: Faith in Nature ｜Stimulating Rosemary Conditioner
No. 5: Kristin Ess｜Moisture Rich Curl Conditioner
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