Ask The Stylist :: Professional Vs. Grocery Store Shampoo

Q. Does using professional shampoo really make a difference? Why does it cost so much more than other brands bought at the grocery store?

A. I get this question a lot, mostly because of the cost of professional shampoo. The two I am most familiar with are Pureology and Neuma, both of which range from 22-55 dollars a bottle depending on type and size. But in my opinion, the money spent is absolutely worth it.

The biggest difference is the ingredients used to make the shampoo. Most professional shampoos are sulfate-free or contain much fewer sulfates than shampoos sold at the grocery store. The reason sulfates are so commonly used is that they create the sudsy lather you get from scrubbing at your head while washing. There’s an idea out there that if your shampoo doesn’t lather, it is not working, which is why most professional shampoos out there still use some sort of cleansing agent to create suds. However, sulfates do suck moisture out of hair, strip hair color, and can also create a waxy, greasy appearance. When I run my fingers through a person’s hair to see what we are working with before a service, I can literally feel a difference on the individual hair strands if a good shampoo isn’t being used. It doesn’t feel clean and soft, it feels coated and waxy. In beauty school, I had a teacher run her scissors alongside a few strands of a client’s hair that had just been previously washed with a grocery store shampoo and I watched in amazed disgust as a layer of wax built up onto the scissors off her hair. When you are using a sulfate-free shampoo, you get intense cleansing and squeaky clean softness.

You can also go longer in between washes after getting your hair used to the new shampoo because you are no longer cleansing and building up on top of harsh ingredients. You are getting all of the pollutants, products, and general dirtiness out of your hair in a good wash, so the natural oils that produce from your hair follicles can do their job and moisturize in between washings. When you have too much buildup from a grocery store shampoo, the natural oils can’t produce and cleanse and you are left with a greasy appearance almost daily. So, when you should only have to wash your hair about three times a week, you end up washing daily and continuing the process.

Professional shampoos are also highly concentrated. Because of that, you need to only use about a nickel size amount of shampoo and a dime size amount of conditioner, depending on how much hair you have. I don’t have as much hair as most women, but it literally takes me about 8 months to get through one bottle of a medium sized shampoo and conditioner. And 50 or so dollars every 8 months is a commitment that most people can make for beautiful, clean, soft hair.

Any more questions? :)

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