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The Truth About Salon Purchased Professional Shampoo

Is it Really Better than the Stuff You Buy at the Store?

By

Hairdresser Showing a Client Hair Products
Rayman/Photodisc/Getty Images

Since the beginning of shampoos, the battle between professional shampoo and store shampoo has been clear. In one corner you have your beloved hairstylist, touting the pros to her fancy $30 bottles of premium shampoo. In the other corner you have your best friend with great hair, who pays $1.99 for a gallon of shampoo at the local Wal-mart. What's really the difference? Is salon shampoo really worth the price? After all, we're talking about soap here, right?

I'll be perfectly honest with you. I haven't used a store-bought shampoo in years. It doesn't mean I wouldn't if I needed to or if my budget required it. It does seem like a pretty easy place to save a few dollars in a pinch. I prefer professional shampoo, but at the end of the day we are comparing soap to soap. What's the real difference?

It was once explained to me like this. Wine is made of grapes. All wine is made of grapes and with similar processes, some wine is worth $3.99 a bottle, others are worth hundreds of dollars per bottle. A professional wine steward can tell subtle differences in many aspects of any bottle of wine when compared to another. A professional hair dresser feels the same way about shampoo.

The bottom line is that there really is very little tangible difference in salon shampoos and store shampoos. They are all meant to wash the hair and scalp. They are all made of similar ingredients. Both professional and non-professional companies are forever formulating better, safer shampoos everyday. At the end of the day, they are all soap. Alas, it is not the end of the day, just yet. Keep reading.

If that's the case why on earth would you spend $30 on a bottle of shampoo at your salon when you can get a similar bottle for $1.99 at Wal-mart? For the same reasons that you might purchase a $30 bottle of wine from a local vineyard, when you can get a bottle of wine for four bucks at Walmart. Well, maybe not the same reasons, but I've broken down the vast differences below.

The Difference in Shampoo Performance
The first thing a consumer wants to know is, "does it work?" I remember my pre-hairstylist days of cheap shampoo in my own shower. Buying shampoo at the salon was a huge luxury for me, and I rarely could justify the cost. I felt like I hit the good hair day jackpot when staying with friends or relatives and they had "the good stuff" in their showers. Are you nodding your head?

In almost all regards, I think salon quality shampoo works better. The ingredients tend to be more gentle with less fillers, sulfates, and build-up creating wax. I like the way my hair responds to professional shampoo, and I dread the day I travel and forget my shampoo forcing me to use the off brand hotel stuff.

The Difference in Shampoo Quality
When defending the price of professional shampoos, a stylist will almost always tell you that salon shampoo is more concentrated. You use less, therefore it lasts longer and the cost difference isn't really as great. This is true. While you'll often find the same ingredients in salon shampoos and store shampoos you won't find that the concentrations of these ingredients are the same. Of course, you can't tell that from the bottle. Store bought shampoos have more water, sulfates, and fillers with less vitamins, oils, and minerals that are designed to keep your hair healthy.

The Difference in Where Your Money Goes
I think the biggest difference in salon formula vs. store formula shampoos have more to do with where your money goes than anything else. When you buy a bottle of shampoo from the drug store, your money goes to the store and the company that makes the shampoo. The shampoo company uses your money to develop more shampoo, market their shampoo, and turn a profit.

When you buy a shampoo from a salon your money goes to the salon owner and the shampoo company that made the shampoo.

Your salon owner uses her money to make a living to support herself and her family, invest in her salon, and ultimately to invest in herself. Even when you buy shampoo from a chain salon, the stylist that educated you and sold the shampoo to you typically earns a commission off of the sale of your shampoo.

The shampoo company that made your shampoo uses it's money to develop more shampoo, market their shampoo, and turn a profit just like the non-professional shampoo brands, but it goes even further. They put money back into the salon industry via education, which is absolutely huge for every salon professional. Hair product companies do a lot for large scale salons and small booth renters a like. The hair industry thrives and evolves because of the focus that these companies have on the individuals that sell their product.

When someone makes a decision to purchase their shampoo from me, I really feel honored that they trust my influence and recommendation. Plus, like most salons, I offer a money-back or equal exchange guarantee on my products. I stand behind my recommendations and will help you find a great shampoo without buying several different bottles to get the right formula. Your local drug store can't say that.

Likewise, my wine analogy still applies. When you're buying a great wine from a family owned vineyard that takes great pride in recommending a wine that will be a perfect compliment to your grandmother's treasured recipe, it's worth more. It's appreciated more. Even if the ingredients are pretty similar to something you could have picked up at the drug store on the way to Grandma's house.

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