Editorial Feature

The Role of Silicones in Haircare and Other Global Trends

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The hair market is a hugely competitive and segmented marketplace where formulators have to respond to a variety of hair types, regions, cultures, and ethnicities. An astute youth market, emerging economies and a growing group of sophisticated shoppers have to be catered to.

Silicones are multifunctional ingredients used in a variety of hair care products. They condition the hair, add shine, make combing easy, help prevent damage from heat styling, help hair look moisturized, and add volume. They also offer color protection, improve hair strength, repair damaged hair, help curl retention, control frizz or, if needed, minimize volume.

Silicones have a key role to play, whether in shampoos, colorants, conditioners, or styling products.

Consumers Shape Hair Care Needs

In 2010, the international hair market touched $67.6 billion, second only to the skincare segment, and is estimated to touch $84.3 billion by 2015, led by shampoos and conditioners. The haircare market is dynamic with more than 10,000 launches every year—about 60% of these hair care products will contain a minimum of one silicone material—and usually more in the case of conditioners.

The haircare market is influenced by the following consumer trends:

  • Individualism
  • Sensory effects
  • Health and well-being

The market is also influenced by societal trends, and they are mainly related to changing demographics, which include:

  • Growing prosperity in the developing world
  • Aging population in the developed world

Consumer Trends Influence Hair Care

Consumer trends that impact hair care include the following:


The concept of tailored products is rapidly gaining popularity as customers intend to show their individuality, and deal with particular grooming challenges based on hair type and its preferred style and condition.

Silicones can offer precise solutions for individual needs and wants, based on customer’s clear-cut hair care requirements. Easy combing is essential in the shampoo and conditioning divisions as well as in styling applications. Products are widely designed for fine, damaged, kinky, dry, or curly hair or colored tresses, and styles, from long to short, and sleek to voluminous.

Conditioning levels range from strong to light with options for frizz control as well as heat and color protection. In order to achieve the desired effect, products must provide mild to strong conditioning, adapted to hair type and condition. Silicones offer the solutions, as illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1. Solutions for Tailored Conditioning

Product Application Hair Type Conditioning Level
Mild Application Hair Type
Dow Corning® 8500 Conditioning Agent Shampoo Dry damaged    
Dow Corning® 8411 Smooth Plus Emulsion Conditioner All hair types
Dow Corning® 5-7113 Silicone Quat Microemulsion Conditioner Dry, damaged    
Dow Corning® AP 8087 Fluid Conditioner Dry, damaged    
XIAMETER® MEM-1664 Emulsion Shampoo Dry, damaged    
XIAMETER® MEM-1784 Emulsion Shampoo Dry, damaged    
XIAMETER® OFX-5330 Fluid Shampoo Thin, dull    
XIAMETER® MEM-0949 Emulsion Shampoo Damaged, color-treated    
XIAMETER® MEM-8194 Emulsion Leave-in conditioner Frizzy    


It is very important to protect the hair from excess heat. Hair keratin becomes softened when hair dryers and other heated appliances are used. In case the appliance is very hot, water in the hair starts to boil forming tiny steam bubbles inside the softened hair shaft. This decreases the fiber strength and potentially results in total fracture.

Silicones have high-thermal stability and spread easily on hair, forming a protective film to help stop water loss from the hair shaft caused by heated styling tools or the heat from dryers. Silicone solutions for leave-in conditioners and styling products are presented in Table 2.

Table 2. Heat Protection Solutions

Product Leave-In Additional Benefits
Dow Corning® 8500 Conditioning Agent •• Hair repair
Dow Corning® HMW 2220 Non-Ionic Emulsion Hair repair
Dow Corning® 2-2078 Fluid Long-lasting shine
XIAMETER® PMX-1501 Fluid Shine
XIAMETER® PMX-9027 Fluid •• Shine

•• = Excellent fit; • = good fit

Colored hair is a prevailing statement of youth, individuality, and fashion. Hair colorants are used by 50% of women in the Western nations, and the hair coloring market will witness continued growth.

Shiny, lustrous hair needs protection from UV exposure and repetitive washing. Silicones offer the solution by helping the color to last longer, retain its vibrant look, protect and enhance color brilliance, and revive color and shine. Silicones that are beneficial for color protection from rinse-off and leave-in conditioners as well as styling products are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Color Protection Solutions

Product Rinse-Off Leave-In Additional Benefits
Dow Corning® CE 8411 Smooth Plus Emulsion •• •• Moisturization
Dow Corning® 5-7113 Silicone Quat Microemulsion •• •• Volume enhancement
Dow Corning® CE 7080 Smart Style •• •• Flexible styling
XIAMETER® MEM-8177 Emulsion Medium conditioning, clear systems

•• = Excellent fit; • = good fit

Products enhancing body and volume help hair to retain its preferred style and look. As a result of the creativity of formulators and the flexibly of silicones, consumers can select less volume or more volume based on the hair type. The ability to meet the dissimilar ends of the styling spectrum is characteristic of the adaptability of silicones.

Aging customers usually have thinning hair, and hence volume is a major concern. Furthermore, those who require enhanced body and volume expect a light feel that will not weigh the body down. Here again, the adaptable nature of silicones provides solutions needed by customers. This is illustrated in Table 4.

Table 4. Solutions for Body and Volume Enhancement

Product Rinse-Off Additional Benefits
Dow Corning® 5-7113 Silicone Quat Microemulsion Intensive conditioning
Dow Corning® CE-8170 AF Microemulsion Medium conditioning
XIAMETER® MEM-0949 Emulsion Intensive conditioning; when incorporated into cream colorants, adds shine and improved combing performance

• = good fit

For individuals having curly or kinky hair, volume control or reduced volume may be necessary as illustrated in Table 5.

Table 5. A Solution for Volume Control

Product Leave-In
XIAMETER® OFX-5324 Fluid ••

•• = Excellent fit

The market for frizz control products has significantly grown due to consumers who require yet another type of conditioning. The style and hair condition can be sustained, whether for smooth or straight hair, or tight or loose defining curls.

Gels, pomades, and related products created for frizz control are developed to provide a smooth finish with a silky shine, seal hair cuticles, and repair split ends. Formulating solutions are also provided by silicones for these applications, as depicted in Table 6.

Table 6. Frizz Control Solutions

Product Leave-In Styling Additional Benefits
Dow Corning® CE 7080 Smart Style •• •• Flexible styling
Dow Corning® 2-2078 Fluid   Heat protection
XIAMETER® PMX-1502 Fluid ••   Medium conditioning

•• = Excellent fit; • = good fit

Sensory Effects

The sensory impact of a product is extremely valuable and silicones provide that impact. Customers prefer products that are customized to meet their particular needs, and simultaneously value the sensation from a product in terms of pleasure, intensity, delight, or a pampered feel.

High-performing products sell well. However, customers prefer novel sensory effects such as thick conditioners that change to silky liquid skimming lightly over the hair; shine serums that offer gloss but leave hair weightless and flowing; or shampoos that have the long-lasting fragrance of a tropical garden.

Present-day premium hair conditioners and shampoos come with moisturizers. Silicones that provide the perception of moisturization in hair are illustrated in table 7.

Table 7. Solutions for Moisturization

Product Shampoo Rinse-Off Leave-In Additional Benefits
Dow Corning® CE 8411 Smooth Plus Emulsion •• ••   Shine, light weight
Dow Corning® CE 1689 Smoothing Emulsion   Specific for Asian hair
XIAMETER® OFX-5324     •• Shine

•• = Excellent fit; • = good fit

Among the materials in the table, Dow Corning® CE-8411 Smooth Plus Emulsion was developed to offer a moisturizing feel and conditioning benefits to shampoos and conditioners. This can be used for creating products for all types of hair. The product adds additional smoothness, slipperiness, and flexibility without reducing hair volume or weighing the hair down.

Health and Well-Being

Consumers pay attention to trends towards enhanced sensory effects and individualism that contribute to the general concept of health and well-being relating to the significance of appearance to both women and men.

From a hair care standpoint, consumer-perceivable advantages such as shine, color protection, frizz control, and other visual indicators play a role that will improve by the impact of silicones. Since hair makes the first impression in the world, shine and health can be realized with silicones through numerous steps in the hair care process, from shampooing to styling as displayed in Table 8.

Table 8. Solutions for Enhanced Shine

Product Shampoo Rinse-Off Leave-In Additional Benefits
Dow Corning® 2-2078 Fluid   •• Long lasting, hair alignment
Dow Corning® 556 Fluid •• Improved feel
XIAMETER® OFX-5330 Fluid Light conditioning
XIAMETER® PMX-1556 Fluid •• Medium conditioning
XIAMETER® PMX-1503 Fluid   Medium conditioning


The Role of Megatrends

Aging is related to hair thinning, fall, and dryness because sebum production becomes less. Aging people may add colorants to conceal gray hair, but their hair still requires more volume, superior sensory effects, and need to look healthy and shiny. Table 9 summarizes the numerous anti-aging advantages of silicone in hair care products.

Table 9. Solutions for Anti-Aging

Issue Consumer Needs Silicone Solution
Fine, thinning hair Enhanced hair body/volume
Avoid heavy/over-conditioning
See body/volume solutions
Dry hair, less sebum production Intensive conditioning
See tailored conditioning solutions
Straw-like, frizzy, wiry look Heat styling and soft flexible styling
Moisturizing, humidity resistance
See frizz control solutions
Graying hair, more porous Conditioning color treatment
Protection and color maintenance
See color protection solutions
Loss of hair shine, dullness Enhanced shine and color See shine solutions


Rising Prosperity

In highly developed nations, per capita spending on hair care products is robust and steady; however, developing nations also are seeing growth in the hair care sector among the middle class, because of the growing prosperity.

Silicone Safety

Silicones are reasonably safe and have been used widely in numerous hair care products since the 1970s. They are inert and stable for the planned applications. Silicones are widely studied and used in present consumer and industrial applications. Silicones continue to hold a very important position in the hair care market. Their adaptability fulfills a wide range of consumer needs, both in terms of performance and sensory effects.

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