Are amphoteric and non-ionic surfactants capable of removing water-insoluble silicones from hair?

alasilvaalasilva Member
Hi there! In this era of "demonization of some ingredients", there is an ongoing war against water-insoluble silicones in hair products and there's little scientific-based information there I could find on this topic.

So I would like to know if amphoteric surfactants like Cocamidopropyl betaine will indeed remove water-insoluble silicones from the hair. Could anybody help me? :smiley:  

And what about a nonionic surfactant like Decyl Glucoside? Are they capable of removing the water-insoluble silicones from the hair?

Formula examples:

Aqua, Cetearyl Alcohol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Parfum, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Polyquaternium-10, Xylityl Sesquicaprylate, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Anhydroxylitol, Linum Usitatissimum Seed Extract, Salvia Hispanica Seed Extract, DMDM Hydantoin, Benzyl Alcohol, Caprylic Acid, Xylitol.

Aqua, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Glycerin (Vegetable Derived), Decyl Glucoside, Melaleuca Alternifolia (tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Extract, Eugenia Uniflora Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol, Menthol, Zinc Oxide, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Sodium PCA (and) Sodium Lactate (and) Arginine (and) Aspartic Acid (and) PCA (and) Glycine (and) Alanine (and) Serine (and) Valine (and) Proline (and) Threonine (and) Isoleucine (and) Histidine (and) Phenylalanine, Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance/Parfum, Benzyl Benzoate, Citral, Citronellol, d-Limonene, Eugenol, Geraniol, Linalool



  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Yes, they remove silicones.  Maybe not as efficiently as something like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate but cleansing surfactants clean surfaces.

    Although, both of the examples you listed are conditioners. They have not been formulated to clean hair. I wouldn't expect either of those to clean anything off hair except for maybe the product itself.

    For example, this shampoo would be perfectly fine for removing silicones. 
  • alasilvaalasilva Member
    edited July 14
    @Perry Hi, Perry! Thanks a lot for your help. :blush:

    Those two formulas that I've posted are from products that are sold in Brazil as "washing" conditioners, or "co-wash", as some people call it. They are meant to be used by people who don't want to use strong surfactants/sulfates in their hair, like SLS and isethionates, etc. So they basically wash their hair with this.
    But my main concern is: some people may be using other hair products like lotions and creams that might contain water-insoluble silicones, like dimethicone. Since they are not using any strong surfactant on their washing routine, will those amphoterics and non-ionics surfactants like "cocobetaine and decyl glucoside" be able to remove the water-insoluble silicones traces left by other products?
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @alasilva - I do understand that those products are sold as "washing" conditioners, but the reality is that those formulas are just conditioners. They have no cleansing ability at all. They are conditioners meant to leave behind conditioning agents like Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride & Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine.

    The amounts of betaine and glucoside used help keep the formula stable and aid in rinse off, however, they offer no cleaning power for anything. They will not even help clean hair that simply has oil in it.  So no, they won't take off silicones or any other material on your hair for that matter.

    "Cleaning" hair with a conditioner is not cleaning the hair at all. You are simply putting "clean" dirt on top of your existing dirty hair. 

    It's the equivalent of washing dishes with salad dressing instead of detergent.
  • alasilvaalasilva Member
    @Perry ;Thanks so much for your help again. I really appreciate it. I've been researching some more and I have one more question: do you think that the concentrations of the amphoteric surfactants used in those formulas might aid their cleansing power? It seems that in Brazil they are allowed to use 2.5% concentration of those ingredients. Does that make any difference? 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Sure, increasing the amount of surfactant will increase their cleansing power.
    However, with the amount you mentioned it's like going from "no cleaning at all" to "almost no cleaning at all"

    If you want cleansing, and you want to use amphoterics, you would have to use a lot higher percentage (10%) and get rid of all the things in the formula that interfere with cleaning such as...

    Cetearyl Alcohol
    Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
    Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Xylityl Sesquicaprylate

  • alasilvaalasilva Member
    @Perry Hm, I got it! Why do these agents interfere with cleaning? 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    When you wash your hair, you clean everything off. Oils, dirt, styling ingredients, and conditioning ingredients are all removed. If you clean it really well, this can leave the hair less manageable and tangled. That's why conditioners were invented. They put things back on your hair. Conditioning ingredients like guar, polyquat-10, or stearamidopropyl dimethylamine are meant to be left on the hair. 

    The cleansing surfactants don't know the difference between things that are good to be left in the hair (conditioning agents) and things that should be removed from the hair (dirt & oil). So, they just try to remove everything they can.

    When you put conditioning ingredients in your shampoo, you are adding more "dirt" to hair that the cleansing surfactants try to remove. More dirt = less effective cleaning.
  • alasilvaalasilva Member
    @Perry I understood! :smiley: Thank you a lot for your assistance!
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