Well, Hello! Here was one of my favorite silicone names popping up on an ingredient list for an “all natural” line of pet shampoos. Not just “all natural”, but emphatically all natural. As I read the inner pages of the website about their ingredients, I ran into mention of the use of Amino-modified Organosilicone.
What do you suppose this company is thinking when they describe Amino-modified Organosiicone as “an organic-based ingredient”? Answer: to fool you into thinking it is a natural substance. They are counting on our ignorance. They are counting on us to associate that “organo” with “natural”, and “amino” with amino acids, as in building blocks of proteins. They are counting on misconceptions to occur. Plus, they are inaccurately identifying amino-modified organosilicone as “an organic-based ingredient”. Like a bull in front of a red cape, I am compelled to charge in and clarify.
Before I get all technical, let me bluntly state some facts (i.e., truths):
- There is no such thing as a “natural” silicone. None, nada, zero, zilch. All silicones are synthesized, created through chemistry, man-made.
- Silicone has absolutely no relationship to silk, and it is not a protein. The letters “sil” do not mean that these two are related.
- “Organic” in chemistry is not the same as “organic” in agriculture. In agriculture, “organic” means grown without harmful pesticides. In chemistry, an “organic” compound is one with a molecular structure containing carbon.
- Silicon (Si) is an “inorganic” element, contains no carbon. Silicones are derived from silica in the form of quartzite rock or sand (Si02). BTW, All petroleum compounds are “organic” in the chemical sense.
- “Amino modified” does not have anything to do with amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Not even distant cousins twice removed.
- Amino modified organosilicone is the name of a group or type of silicone polymer, not a single ingredient. This is a chemical description
What is “Amino-modified Organosilicone? It is a class of silicone substances, not a single item. Actually “amino-modified organosilicone" is a technical description. In order to understand the chemical description, we have to work from the back of the name. Stay with me, this is the chemistry part.
- The basic silicone backbone chain (Si-O-Si-O) is formed through hydrolysis and condensation of the silica quartz mineral. 1 What makes the field of silicone chemistry so fascinating for chemists is that this silicone backbone can be linked up with other substances in nearly infinite combinations to form many polymers. To the chemist, silicones are polymer heaven.
- When hydrocarbons (CH – carbon/hydrogen) are linked to the silicone chain, we have a hybrid substance that is described as an “organosilicone”. It now contains carbon molecules. The silicone fluids we use in personal care products are all organosilicones. They are not new. They have been around for decades, but we are just now seeing the chemical term being used.
- "Amino-modified silicone”, aka “amine functional siloxane" is the descriptive term applied to an ingredient we usually find identified in an ingredient list as “Amodimethicone”. Here is the technical description: “The addition of aminoalkyl groups to a PDMS siloxane backbone increases substantivity of silicones. The most widely used amine group is based on the ethylene diamine structure. Amine functional siloxanes can be trimethyl siloxy or dimethyl hydroxyl siloxy end-blocked. Typical INCI names assigned to this class of materials are Amodi- methicone, Amodimethiconol, and Trimethylsilylamodimethicone. Amine functional siloxanes can differ in length of siloxane backbone, linear versus branching of the siloxane backbone, substitution amount and type of amino groups on the backbone, and the linking group on the amino moiety. The addition of an amine group to a siloxane backbone allows for excellent hair conditioning for both leave-in and wash-off conditioners.“1 Whatever! Point being -This is not remotely similar to amino acids of proteins. Got it?? Although there are silicone-protein copolymers, where hydrolyzed protein components are molecularly attached to the silicone backbone, that is another class of silicones.
So there we have it. Amino-modified Organosilicones – highly synthesized, complex, inorganic siloxane polymers, that have been modified to have attached hydrocarbons (CH) and also modified to have attached amine groups. They are not “organic-based”, nor are they “natural”. Amodimethicones have distinct advantages over the previous generation of dimethicones. Amodimethicone is more substantive to the hair – it adheres to the hair better. Amodimethicone does not build up, it does not layer upon itself. Amodimethicone seeks out and is attracted to areas of damage on the hair shaft. Amodimethicone offers a longer lasting effect on the hair shaft. It also offers heat protection and some protection from UV sun damage. Compared to other conditioning ingredients, Amodimethicone is effective when used in very small amounts. A little goes a long way, making it cost-effective for the manufacturer. To sum, it is an effective and desirable group of ingredients.
What gripes my grits is that a company is trying to pass it off as natural. They are so determined to claim that their product line is ALL NATURAL, that they pass off a highly synthesized inorganic-based chemical as being consistent with their ALL NATURAL commitment. I’m not angry that they use the stuff, I’m angry that they don’t tell the truth. The truth is that the amino-modified organosilicone offers benefits that are pretty much impossible to duplicate with natural alternatives. So why don’t they say “seeking natural solutions” instead of claiming something to be natural that is not? Is ALL natural that important? “All natural” is an implausible stretch for most shampoo or conditioning surfactant systems. There needs to be an industry standard of what constitutes a “natural” ingredient, and a more precise definition of an “all natural” product. Meanwhile, we are misled, misinformed and marketed to our ignorance. Grrrrr!
Reference: 1. Organo-Modified Siloxane Polymers for Conditioning Skin and Hair, Eric S. Abrutyn, in
Conditioning Agents for Hair and Skin, ed by Randy Schueller & Perry Romanowski, Marcel Dekker, Inc., 1999.