We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
There’s a rising movement against silicone, a common ingredient in many hair products including shampoos and conditioners. Opponents say silicone weighs your locks down, damages your tresses, and gives you a head of dull, lifeless hair.
But the pro-silicone crowd says silicone helps make your mane shiny and free of frizz. So what are you supposed to do? The choice to go silicone-free may come down to your hair.
Silicones are manufactured molecules used in everything from caulk to breast implants to personal care products and more.
They are used in hair care products because of their ability to form a coating around the hair, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
“Silicones protect the hair, smooth the cuticle, hydrate the hair, and even add volume to the individual hair shaft itself,” he explains. In turn, this may help hair appear softer and shinier and also reduce frizz.
Hair products containing silicones are safe to use, Zeichner says. A 2014
Some people love to use hair products with silicone. For them, it turns unruly, frizzy hair into silky, soft, shiny tresses. For others, “silicones accumulate on the hair over time, weighing it down,” Zeichner says. “The hairs then become heavy and greasy as more and more silicone deposits on the hair.”
For people with straight hair, this leads to lifeless, limp strands.
For folks with curly hair — especially those who co-wash (wash with conditioner rather than shampoo) or use the no-poo method — silicone may lead to less bouncy curls or even flatten out curls. Going silicone-free revives hair and makes it feel cleaner.
The other option is to use a clarifying shampoo to remove the silicone buildup. However, “these are harsh on the hair,” Zeichner adds. “Use them every once in a while, only when your hair or scalp needs a reset.” For some, that may be once a week, and for others, once a month.
Ultimately, the choice to use silicone-free shampoo comes down to personal preference. If you like how your hair looks, there’s no need to change your shampoo. But if you think silicones are the culprit behind your limp locks, you might consider using silicone-free shampoo and see if you notice a difference.
No two people are going to love the same shampoo. Even the scent that one person raves about may turn away another person.
For this list, we aimed to select silicone-free shampoos at various price points while keeping all types of hair in mind. We looked at online reviews, price, and ingredients, double-checking that the product truly had no silicones (typically these ingredients end in “-cone”).
- $ = under $15
- $$ = $15–$25
- $$$ = over $25
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo
Formulated for all type 3 and type 4 hair, this silicone-free shampoo also contains no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, or petroleum. Reviewers say it makes your hair feel clean and adds volume, shine, and bounce.
That’s likely due to the ingredients. Shea butter moisturizes and conditions the hair and scalp, while the namesake Jamaican black castor oil is a source of vitamins and minerals that support strong, healthy hair.
Pantene Gold Series Sulfate Free Shampoo
Specifically designed for Black women, this shampoo cleanses without removing your natural hair oil.
The argan oil softens hair, repairs damage, and even helps undo tangles, some reviewers say. Additionally, the pro-vitamin B5 and antioxidants help to strengthen hair. What doesn’t the shampoo have? Parabens, sulfates, and silicone.
Garnier Fructis Smoothing Treat Shampoo, Avocado Extract
The Garnier Fructis Treat line of shampoos and conditioners contain no silicone, parabens, or artificial colorants. They’re 98 percent naturally derived, vegan, and 94 percent biodegradable, perfect for green-minded showerers. You can also use them on color-treated hair.
TRESemmé Botanique Nourish and Replenish Shampoo
The coconut milk, coconut oil, and aloe vera in this product revitalize dry hair while cleansing. The shampoo also smells amazing — a blend of coconut, sandalwood, white musk, green fig milk, water lily, and plum.
More than 5,000 reviewers give it an average 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon. They say the dye-, paraben-, and silicone-free shampoo adds volume and leaves hair super soft.
Pacifica Rosemary Purify Invigorating Shampoo
This silicone-free shampoo leaves your hair minty fresh. But it doesn’t only smell good: The mint also gives your scalp a feel-good tingle as you wash.
Reviewers say the shampoo removes product buildup and grease, leaving your hair soft and even reducing flakes. The formula is 100 percent vegan and free of silicone, parabens, petroleum, SLS, and phthalates.
Pantene Nutrient Blends Hair Volume Multiplier with Bamboo Silicone-Free Shampoo
Reviewers rave about the smell of this shampoo and how it leaves hair smooth and shiny without leaving behind any buildup. Even users with fine hair report the shampoo gives body.
The product contains B-vitamins extracted from bamboo shoots as well as antioxidants to nourish thin hair while removing dirt and oil.
In addition to no silicone, the shampoo is also free of parabens, mineral oil, and dyes. And it’s safe for chemically treated hair.
Bread Hair-Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser
Another silicone-free shampoo for hair types 3a through 4c, this gentle cleanser has fewer suds than traditional formulas but cleans just as well. Plus it’s vegan and also free of sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, and mineral oil.
The argan oil moisturizes hair while aloe vera juice hydrates your scalp and lemon tree oil soothes your scalp. Reviewers say it smells like fruity cereal (in a good way) and leaves hair soft and fresh.
BIOLAGE R.A.W. Nourish Shampoo
Fans say it’s good for both fine and thicker hair, as it doesn’t weigh hair down or dry out your scalp. The formula is free of silicone, sulfates, parabens, and artificial colorants.
Living Proof Full Shampoo
No parabens, no sulfates, no phthalates, no silicone, and no animal cruelty. This shampoo is safe for both color- and chemically treated hair.
It eliminates product buildup and uses a patented formula to restore the hair’s body to its fullest potential while leaving it cleaner longer. Reviewers say it lives up to its name, bringing flat, fine hair back to life.
OWA Haircare Moondust Collection Hair Wash
While the price tag may seem high, a $29 bottle of this waterless shampoo is said to be the equivalent of four standard bottles of liquid shampoo.
Plus, it’s free of silicone, sulfates, parabens, and animal-derived ingredients. Coconut makes your hair soft and clean, while rice protein adds body and shine.
Reviewers say the rich lather doesn’t strip away your natural hair oils, but it can take some time to learn how to use it: You sprinkle some into one hand, then rub your hands together before rubbing your palms over your hair and working it into your strands like any shampoo. As you do this, it will lather.
You can also take this in a carry-on without worrying about TSA confiscating it or having it leak all over your clothes.
Bumble & bumble Curl Moisturizing Shampoo
This shampoo is created for people with curly, wavy, and coily hair. It uses a combination of jojoba, avocado, and coconut oils and shea and cocoa butters. These hydrate hair, tame frizz, and add a healthy shine. And it’s vegan and free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicone.
While it’s safe to use shampoos that contain silicones, some people find that these products build up in their hair over time. This can lead to greasy, limp locks.
If you’re noticing this, using silicone-free shampoos may help your hair have more body and look and feel cleaner.