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Why is the FDA banning silicones in hair and skin care products?

Did you see the news story last month about the Meth Lab guy who was busted while wearing a Breaking Bad shirt? As funny as that is, it turns out that methamphetamine production has a not so amusing consequence for consumers of beauty products.

Why is the FDA is “Breaking Bad” on silicones?

According to an FDA press release, the criminal chemists who run Meth labs are increasingly using silicones, especially dimethicone, as a source material for methamphetamine. In the past the FDA has limited access to other source materials, like the over-the-counter decongestant pseudoephedrine, but now the savvy sinister scientists of the drug world have figured out how to extract the components they need from common hair and skin care products.

Dimethicone is frequently used in beauty products because it’s an excellent skin protectant and provides slip and shine for hair. In fact, it’s unusual to find a high quality skin moisturizer or hair conditioner that does NOT include some form of silicone so the loss of this ingredient is expected to significantly impact consumers.

According to the FDA the silicone ban will take effect “as soon as it can be phased in” which does not give cosmetic product manufacturers much time to find suitable replacements.

You can click here to read the details from the FDA’s press release as well as the Personal Care Product Council’s response.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • PamG April 1, 2014, 8:51 am

    Oh, ouch!
    I saw , I gawked, I clicked!

    You got me!

  • Amanda April 1, 2014, 9:54 am

    My first thought was “OMG I hope this is an April Fool’s Day joke!”

  • Jacque April 1, 2014, 9:59 am

    Too funny! I SO hope my clients haven’t just skimmed through this because, you know, EVERYTHING on the internet is TRUE!

  • rozy April 1, 2014, 10:36 am

    Damn! I thought this was some rumor floating among the “chemicals are scary!” crowd. This really sucks. What will they do to replace silicones that will have the same quality? I really wish they would stop restricting common things. I bet this will effect Canada bc a lot of personal care products are made there.

  • rozy April 1, 2014, 10:37 am

    I mean I thought that before I read your post.

  • Jenn April 1, 2014, 10:44 am

    Hey great. Keep on punishing the general public for the actions of criminals. I already love having to show ID just to buy Nyquil .

  • Eileen April 1, 2014, 10:59 am

    Good one, guys 🙂

  • eastvillagesiren April 1, 2014, 1:17 pm

    You got me! It was more about being outraged at the silly, unfounded reaction by the FDA, but you got me to click.


  • Ling April 1, 2014, 4:42 pm

    Damn, that was good 😛

  • Massi April 1, 2014, 4:46 pm

    NOOOOO!! Damn those people for ruining everything! First Nyquil and now this! Just let them kill themselves already …

  • EvieK2012 April 1, 2014, 11:30 pm

    I truly can’t believe this. Like Jenn said, we have to show our ID’s to get cold medicines already, now we won’t be able to get the shampoos we like at all? I personally make handmade soaps and lotions, etc. I already have to order lye for soapmaking off the internet and sign away my life in forms before they’ll even sell that to me. Wonder how long before that’s banned too? Then I won’t be able to make any soap at all and my webstore has to close? This new ban already affect the lotion bases. Stop punishing the public because of these criminal idiots!

  • Tree April 2, 2014, 1:05 am

    They should take action against DHMO. Haha, a good one.

  • PamG April 2, 2014, 7:36 am

    Wait, you guys know it’s April 1, right?

  • D_BA April 6, 2014, 6:47 am

    Almost lost my breakfast!

  • jwlm April 6, 2014, 7:39 am

    Very irritating. I read your column for facts, not stupid jokes.

  • Dead_Girl April 12, 2014, 9:30 pm

    Is “Poly dimethyl Siloxan” a water-soluble silicone ?
    What about “bis aminopropyl dimethicone” ( wouldn’t it be useless in a Rinse-Out Conditioner if it’s water soluble anyway ! )

    2-Don’t Silicones clog pores , skin or scalp pores ?

    A compound that ends with “none” is it Silicone? In a body shower or shampoo would Silicones block moisturizers out- even after It’s all washed out ?

    Most important, for the scalp. Wouldn’t “Poly dimethyl Siloxan” clog scalp pores ? If so, Isn’t It Ironic to find it on top of the Ingredient list of a hair revitalizing serum- that recommends a “mild shampoo” to wash it off ? would a “mild shampoo” get it off scalp pores ?

    OK, Here is the thing:
    I had a big hair loss ( due to abuse of dyes, poor harsh diet- short though, .. and maybe more reasons I don’t know of )
    Doctor prescribed a hair serum that has “Poly dimethyl Siloxan” on top of it’s Ingredient list:

    Lindo spray
    * Hair Oil Spray with Topical Hair Serum. Fights hair loss. Accelerates hair growth.
    * An innovated blend of silicon power & herbs potency that optimizes hair life span.
    * Hair revitalizing solution. Highly concentrated formula. Botanical remedy.
    * Composition:
    – Poly dimethyl Siloxan.
    – Emu oil.
    – Wheat germ oil.
    – Jojoba oil.
    – Almond oil.
    – Olive oil.
    – Lavender oil.
    – Lemon oil.
    – Tea tree oil.
    – Thyme oil.
    * Application:
    – Apply to scalp & specially to the roots, massage it on the whole scalp for 2-4 minutes, once or twice per day.
    – To remove traces of Lindo spray do not use bathing soaps as they are alkaline, which in the long run tends to affect hair keratin. Always use a mild shampoo.
    – Use lukewarm water for rinsing & washing your hair as hot water dries out hair.
    * A product of Macro International Group. Made in Egypt. Produced by: Cosmopack Factories.

    I found it to have really good reviews all around the web (Unless it’s really good marketing)
    some reported a drastic hair loss, a while after they stopped using it all at once
    and some explained how you should never stop it but rather Gradually reduce the dose to once a week for life ..
    the thing that the doctor disagreed with stating that I can stop it once I see results with no side effects, reminding me that it’s all natural product with no Minoxidil involved.

    About the daily rinse required & the fact that I can’t wash too often – it takes days for my hair to dry and get back to normal.
    He said that It doesn’t have to be daily.
    I should wash my hair just as often – only with a mild shampoo.

    But right after I started using it, I wanted to know what the heck is that Silicone and how it will restore my hair back.
    As it turned out, I think I will be just fine dismissing it’s power.

    it’s been 44 day since my first application and so far, I have seen no difference.

    Same time, I wanna see the results they all swear by.
    I used a clarifying shampoo a month ago and limited the silicone to the hair follicles .. which is weird. It should be the other way around.

    how can I benefit from the serum/spray without having to daily wash my hair.
    if it’s water-soluble silicone, can I use .. like .. a wet cotton or something to take it off scalp the next morning? just to keep my hair safe.

    if it’s not, Is there any natural alternative to sulphate to wash it out daily?
    Anything other than baking soda. I really don’t like the idea of it.

    What about lemon or vinegars as a scalp cleanser- with or without cones ?

    The Big question here: can I use some essential oils (like rosemary , camphor and maybe clove oil ) diluted in some carrier oils (Just like the serum .. only discarding the silicone) as a scalp massage to stimulate hair regrowth ?
    Isn’t it how this spray supposed to work?
    what oils should or should I never use?
    what if I started using this kind of home-made serum weekly after I’m done with the silicone one ? how exactly should I use it?

    I’ve been mostly no poo for months.. only now I wanna do it right.

    Now, since I live in Egypt, I probably won’t be able to find any natural shampoo or conditioner recommended.
    I mean .. yeah, we have here things like pantene and Herbal Essences (which I eventually used to co-wash before I know anything about Silicones)
    So they’re easy to find.
    But I don’t think it’s the same with All natural alternative brands.
    You know.. It doesn’t seem like it could travel overseas just as easy.

    That’s why I’m off for a simple “primal” DIY hair and specially scalp wash.
    like pouring A spoonful of Apple cider vinegar in a 1/4cup of water.. how easy ! lets just keep it simple.

    Would natural acids cleanse my scalp regularly ? will it cause any harm? like, more hair loss ?

    I’m thinking; how about a ”cinnamon-honey-olive oil” mixture as a Hair wash.. and just some ACV to finish off with and help remove any cinnamon left.

    I’ve been using it already as a smooth hair lightener twice in two weeks.

    I know I have to wait for too long to see an actual difference in color but, eeeh .. better than chemicals anyway.
    the only problem I may have with it would be if it turned out to be drying my hair out>

    PS : I’m a 2B


  • Silicone fre shampuu April 20, 2014, 4:27 am

    Silicones work great on my breakout prone face as opposed to “natural ingredients” but on my hair they just look terrible. I think it has more to do with hair structure. For fine, naturally curly hair it made my hair lumpy (it would fold like paper) and hard to straighten when I wanted to. It was indeed VERY difficult to find any products without silicone. After a long search and to my surprise I found a cheap brand from a drugstore made within my own country especially for my hair type that advertized itself as “silicone free”.

    The shampoos and conditioners still contained a bunch of water-soluble silicones and sometimes other coating surfactants. Makes you wonder what it takes to be able to call a product silicone free? I’m no chemist but I did some of my own research. Finally I chose their products with only the most water soluble silicones and I have to say I am never going back. My hair has never been smoother and while yes it is no longer as “slippery” to comb through it doesn’t seem to cause any more tangling than with silicones. The signature silicone shine has changed into a more natural shimmer. Hair is more frizzy but at the same time the structure looks so much fuller and better that it is hardly noticeable. It’s a more natural and healthy look for fine, dense hair. It also feels lighter.

    This may sound odd but I use shampoo only once a week and most of the time simply wash with conditioner as it is enough to remove the oiliness during the week.

    Just food for thought!

  • Chrid August 29, 2016, 2:45 am

    Silicones clog your scalp pores and cause hair loss that can be permanent so good riddance and read why wen is being sued for making me and many others lose hair by the handful chunks.

    • Randy Schueller August 29, 2016, 9:28 am

      Hi Crid. I’m not aware of any evidence which proves silicones (which are a large class of material encompassing many different ingredients) cause clogged pores or hair loss. Do you have a reference that you can share with us? If you do, I’d love to share that with our readers. If you don’t, thanks for sharing your opinion but I wouldn’t want every one else to think what you say is fact.

      FYI, just for the record if you had clicked the link you would realize that this was an April Fools story.

    • Kelli January 21, 2017, 4:34 pm

      Unfortunately Chrid, that was just a reaction YOU and maybe a few others had to that specific product. Wen doesn’t really use any ingredients that are not common in 100’s of other shampoo’s and conditioner’s on the market. Any person can have an allergic reaction to anything at any time. Even if they were never allergic to that particular thing in the past. If you had an allergic reaction you would have noticed other signs and not just big chunks of hair falling out all of the sudden. When you first noticed irritation or maybe burning or whatever, you should have ceased using the product right then, instead of continuing to use it until big chunks of hair came out. I don’t use WEN products but I have seen their ingredients list and if you are having chunks of hair falling out with their products you should probably just consider using water only and nothing else because these are all common hair product ingredients found everywhere.

  • Jen April 6, 2018, 5:32 am

    Your link no longer works, so you are now putting false info on the net… luckily I was curious and took a peek in the comments to see this was a past April Fools joke. The reason Wen is making people’s hair out (it’s not a FEW it’s several thousand people-check the FDA complaints) is because is one requires a sulfate to wash it out. Since Wen is sulfate free, the silicone (whose main properties make it seal all of the cuticle off) builds and builds on top of each other each application…. ‘suffocating’ the hair strand because no moisture can get in. Eventually make it brittle and dry and then snapping off. There are several books written on the subject, but the one that comes to mind is The Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey (spelling?). Silicone is not necessarily bad if you can use sulfates to wash it out often. Otherwise, you will do best to avoid silicones altogether. It’s not impossible to do, just takes research and time. There are groups of Facebook dedicated to helping you find these sulfate and silicone free products in countries all over the world. 🙂

    • Perry Romanowski April 16, 2018, 9:39 am

      Interesting theory. But there is no evidence that silicone seals the hair and makes it brittle. Lorraine Massey is a hair stylist. While she may know how to cut and shape hair, I wouldn’t look to her for an understanding of the science of hair products. Hair does not “breath” so it can’t be “suffocated”.