Silicone. I find myself in an odd position with this pervasive skincare, haircare and makeup ingredient. I mostly hate the stuff, but routinely defend it against clean beauty/wellness naysayers who thoughtlessly deem it toxic. Silicone, like every other ingredient held to the highest possible EU standards (which still apply in the UK), is not toxic. It is safe. And yet as much as I will continue to bang that drum, I’ll also avoid using silicone where practical.
Silicone is used widely in high street haircare products to give a slippery, silky, frizz-free finish to hair, which is ideal for certain types. But if you’re curly and happy about it, silicone won’t suit you, as it weighs down waves, curls and coils to make them look neither one thing nor another. If your hair is fine, like mine, silicone makes it droop like cheap curtains in need of a hot wash. Avoiding it can be pricey, but there are a growing number of affordable exceptions and some are pretty great.
Garnier has undergone a quiet revolution in the past year and deserves commendation. Now certified cruelty-free, the lineup has much to offer, but its strong suit is Ultimate Blends Hair Food, a range of silicone-free haircare. Watermelon shampoo and conditioner (£5.99 each, for 350ml), bottled in 50% recycled plastic, have lived in my shower for a month and I’ve become as likely to use them as my posher washes. The thick, jelly-like shampoo smells absolutely glorious – perfectly light, cheerful and refreshing as we finally see sunlight. It lathers up properly and rinses away to leave behind nothing but softness and enthusiastic bounce. My family can’t get enough of the stuff.
If your hair is thicker, coarser or on the dry side, I envy your suitability for Umberto Giannini’s mouthwatering new Banana Butter shampoo and conditioner (£8.25 each, for 250ml). These are silicone-free but also without sulphates, which takes a little getting used to. Don’t expect a foam explosion; just massage in well and take your time over rinsing. Within a few washes, you will enjoy a real softness, rather than a fake silicone one. Gratifyingly, the tubes are made of sugarcane rather than traditional plastic – just throw into your recycling bin as normal.
Finally, an honourable mention to Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula conditioning shampoo (£3.35, for 400ml) – a thin, milky hair wash that smells like suntan oil in the most delicious way. It’s suitable for all hair types, even fine.