Hair Loss: Silicones and sulfates
October 14, 2020

Hair Loss: Silicones and sulfates

Hair loss is a problem which can be derived from a wide variety of everyday threats. We will now discuss how two main ingredients, found in the vast majority of hair products in the market, can lead to a vicious cycle of hair damage which will only accelerate the rate of hair loss. These are: silicones and sulfates.


First and foremost, silicones are supposed to protect hair from damage- nevertheless, they are a double edged blade in the cosmetics industry. It is because they will create a waterproof layer on the hair in order to either make your hair “silky and shiny” or to“protect it” from humidity, heat, pollution and the surrounding environment. At first, the hair gains a velvety appearance and becomes more malleable. However, silicones coat the hair cuticles with a pseudo plastic layer which is very hard to remove.


The hydrophobic properties that the vast majority of silicones have subsequently leads to a build-up of silicones on the scalp. The scalp then becomes clogged up and the hair follicles are weakened: contributing not only to hair thinning but hair loss as a whole. Therefore it is of paramount importance to always check the ingredients on your hair products and avoid anything with -cone and -siloxane endings such as: Cetearyl Methicone, Cetyl Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Stearyl Dimethicone, Methicone, Trisiloxane.


It is very hard to clear the hydrophobic shield that silicones leave in your hair. However, without the use of sulfates it becomes much harder for shampoo brands to deliver the large amount of foam when showering that we have all come to expect!

Sulfates are aggressive detergents that remove polymers such as the necessary low levels of silicones and dirt from your scalp and hair. A detergent harsh enough to remove silicones will dismantle the hair’s cuticle, or outer layer, leaving the delicate interior of the hair completely unprotected.


Sulfates will strip both the hair’s cuticle and the first layer of skin in the scalp. Thus, hair is severely weakened (root to tips) which cause it to become brittle, frizzy and very dry. Sulfates are so abrasive that may dry and irritate the scalp to the extent of debilitating the hair cuticles which results in hair loss or even prompting dermatitis. Just as with silicones, you can spot sulfates on the ingredients list with the suffix ‘-ates’. The most well known sulfate is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is present in over 90% of the shampoos on the market; however, there are other examples such as Alkylbenzene Sulfonate and Ammonium Laureth.