Those who are deeply concerned with hair health sometimes fall into using terminology that others might not recognize. Cones, in reference to hair, is one of those terms. In these discussions, cones refers to a group of chemicals, silicones that are found in many commercial beauty products. Silicone chemicals act as sealants, are hydrophobic and can add some slip to your hair. Hair lovers often claim that cones are evil. Often, those seeking advice on how to better care for their hair will change their routines and how the treat their hair, while taking the advice of people who have been hair conscious much longer and removing cone heavy products. Typically they have some fantastic results, but is that because of the removal of cones from their hair care regime or because they are simply taking better care of their hair? Some go no further than to find some good results and believe that cones were the cause of all their hair ills, but I know that other people have great success using some products with cones. Therefore, here is a closer look at what cones are and what they do.
There are different types of silicones, and the difference in chemical structures between the silicones is reflected in the names. If you read the ingredient list of many conditioners and skin creams, you can find and identify most silicones easily. Most of the silicones end with the letters ‘cone’, hence why they are often just referred to as cones. Two examples are “Amodimethicone” and “Dimethicone” which are tongue twisters on the best of days. However, some equally hard to say ingredients are also cones even though they do not end in “cone,” such as “Cyclopenthasiloxane” or “Dimethiconol.” Those are the most common cones that you will see in your hair products, so if you do not see any of these or anything that looks like them then it is likely that the product does not contain any cones at all. There are other cones with more difficult and hard to recognize names, but there is no way to find and list them all.
Now, once you get past the sneakiness of manufacturers, you might wonder what cones are designed to do. Cones are very popular and are found in a very wide variety of hair care products, with many different purposes. In shampoos, cones can help provide slip, making it easier to massage shampoo into your hair. In conditioners cones can help detangling the hair, reducing static, and reducing breakage because they smoothing down the surface of the hair. This also increases shine. Cones are not water soluble, which means that they help lock moisture in your hair, and that is always a good thing.
Now for the bad side on cones, which mostly stem from the fact that cones are not water soluble. Depending on the cone and your own hair, it can be difficult to remove cones and any resulting build up from hair. Sometimes a sulfate shampoo is required to fully remove cones, but again that depends on the cones and your hair. This becomes a problem with many hair conscious individuals, because one common routine is to remove shampoo from the routine and only wash with water, herbal rinses or conditioner. Therefore, if you are using a conditioner with cones and no shampoo, this can quickly lead to cones building up on the hair. Too much of this build up will undo all the good that cones might have originally brought to your hair, moisture will no longer be absorbed into the hair and get locked in, instead it will be locked out of hair. Ultimately, this can lead to hair that is dry and tangled. So does this mean that the cone haters are right? Maybe, but nothing is really that simple.
Everyone has different hair, and everyone’s hair can react a little differently to each cone. The speed in which cones can build up on the hair varies greatly because of the person, the amount they use, the combination of cones that they use, the other products they use and their hair itself. Some people can notice a buildup after a single use, but others can use a cone conditioner for eight months or so without problems. However, having a build up of cones in your hair does not mean that you need to say goodbye to your favorite conditioner or other products. But you will need to clarify your hair with a shampoo or other favorite means as necessary to keep you and your hair healthy and happy.
In short, the general pros and cons of using cones are as follows, keeping in mind that any single item might not be true for everyone. Pros are that cones can provide slip, prevents tangles and therefore breakage, can make hair shiny and locks moisture into the hair. The cons include cones building up on hair, being unable to be removed without detergents, locking moisture out of the hair and different results for everyone. People that feel strongly, either way, about cones can have heated discussions. However, like everything about personal care, everyone is different. Your hair might love or hate cones, and you might agree. There is black or white, only personal preference and results. Do what makes you and your hair the happiest; do not be swayed by naysayers that have a difference of opinion.