In a now-viral video, Boston-based hairstylist Daleen Jordan carefully runs a scissor blade down hair strands and scrapes off lines of white, waxy residue. “You guys. I took this video yesterday of my client. This is the result of years of using drugstore shampoo,” Jordan wrote on Instagram. “This is build-up from waxes, silicones, and parabens. Silicone is almost like rubber or plastic and is used as a sealant against water and even air. “It’s NOT a natural ingredient, and its side effects are bad for our hair. It gives your hair the illusion of shine, but it’s not the shine we want,” she added.
Other stylists have posted similar videos over the years, scraping clients’ hair with scissors to reveal product buildup. Jordan, 34, said she sees this issue with clients who use shampoos containing certain kinds of silicone. The client in her video had been using a cheap drugstore shampoo and conditioner containing silicone for the past 30 years. The client doesn’t use hair spray or any other products.
“That was the result of using a very inexpensive shampoo,” Jordan told Style TODAY. “A lot of those shampoos include dimethicone, which is a silicone that is not water-soluble. So that’s what most of that stuff is … all those waxes and silicones built upon the hair. When I’m shampooing someone’s hair or blow-drying it, I can literally feel the buildup.” Companies often add silicones to products to coat the hair and make it feel thicker and fuller, said Dr. Nicole Rogers, a Louisiana-based dermatologist specializing in hair restoration.
She says silicones that coat the hair aren’t necessarily harmful to the hair itself. “I think they’re fine for your hair because they’re inert,” Rogers told Style TODAY. “People put them on for a reason because they have wonderful, thin hair, and so they’re trying to add extra body to it.” She added that ingredients that coat the hair could protect from sun exposure, pollution, and other environmental stresses.
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Jordan said that silicones and similar ingredients could make the hair feel thicker and protect it from the elements. But in her experience, the long-term negative effects of these ingredients outweigh the benefits. Non-water-soluble silicones don’t rinse out easily, and they can block out nutrients by coating your hair.
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At first, “your hair will feel nice and soft and manageable,” she said, “but over time, you’re really just damaging it because no nutrients can get into your hair or scalp.” Jordan said that buildup from some silicone-based products could also weigh the hair down and make it more difficult to style. “You don’t get any volume; it gets really greasy really fast because all the products are blocking the pores in your scalp,” she said. “Your scalp actually overproduces sebum oil, and in turn, your hair gets really greasy.”
Jordan notes that not all silicones are bad. Water-soluble versions are excellent for the hair because they wash out more easily, she said. But to avoid buildup, she recommends people avoid non-water-soluble types like dimethicone. She also points out that even some expensive, salon-grade shampoos can contain non-water-soluble silicones, too, so it’s always important to check the ingredients list.
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To get rid of buildup, Jordan recommends clients use a clarifying shampoo about once every two weeks and “really just scrub their hair and scalp and try to rid it of as much of those ingredients as possible.” Rogers also recommends using a sulfate-based shampoo to cleanse the hair thoroughly. And she warns against using scissors to scrape your own hair because, especially when moving up the hair shaft, this could damage the cuticle, the outermost layer of the hair that protects the inner shaft.
Some people accused Jordan of doing exactly that to her client’s hair. “If I was going upward, then yes, I could have damaged the hair and scraped the cuticle, but that’s not what I was doing,” she said. “It’s an ancient technique that I learned at hair school many years ago, and I’ve seen people do it.” That said, it’s probably safest to leave the scissor scraping to the experts!
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