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Does Your Hair Need a Silicone Detox?

Courtesy of the Body Shop

When it comes to frizz fighting, silicones are the secret weapon in most smoothing products (often disguised as the scientific ingredient name: dimethicone). Like a raincoat for your hair, silicone coats each strand to seal out humidity. Slippery and silky from the silicone polish, hair is less tangled and looks shinier and healthier—at first. You see, the problem is the coating: "Too much silicone prevents oils and moisture from penetrating into the hair," explains celebrity stylist Leonardo Manetti, owner of the ION Studio salon in downtown New York City. "Eventually, hair will be drier and look more damaged," he adds. One look at my lackluster locks, and Manetti declares that I'm suffering from a silicone overdose.

Turns out, the deliciously-scented oil I was applying to my damp mane every night was saturated in silicone. As my strands got drier and drier (just another casualty of this unusually-hot summer, or so I thought), I applied more and more "oil" to the ends. And of course my hair just kept getting even more straggly and brittle. Because what's one of the first ingredients listed on the back of the product bottle? Dimethicone. A raid of my current favorite shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizing masks reveals more offenders. Dimethicone. Dimethicone. Dimethicone. My hair must be suffocating from under all that silicone!

Time for a detox. A miracle worker for smoothing and anti-frizz when used in moderation, silicone is meant for occasional use, according to Manetti. He suggests that I switch my shampoo and conditioner to silicone-free formulas to help wash out some of the sticky product build-up that's keeping moisture out of my thirsty strands. Because while using a silicone-laced smoothing serum during the day is fine if you wash it out in the shower, using a silicone-infused shampoo just re-deposits more of the slippery stuff on your hair, never giving it a chance to breathe.

Thank goodness for The Body Shop's new Rainforest Radiance shampoos and conditioners, just hitting stores now. Sulfate-, paraben-, colorant-, and silicone-free, these color-protecting formulas have an addictive fruity scent, like Dewberry, that Body Shop classic from my high school days. Hopefully, with my new detox regimen, I'll have the healthy hair I had in high school too—just in time for September.

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