Why you should know the difference between Salon and Store Hair Products.
The biggest difference between store and salon bought hair products is the ingredients. Or should I say lack of. Most store bought brands flaunt their content of hydrating oils and proteins when in fact, the amount in them is insignificant but just enough to be allowed on the bottle. Hair Products are not required to put the amount of each ingredient in the bottle, but instead the ingredients are listed by how much of what is in the product. For instance, if water is first, that is the majority of what is in there. Why in the world is water listed as the first ingredient when that is the only ingredient we already have?
Salon products are concentrated, meaning less water and more product. That means your product will last longer and you won’t need as much of it. That alone makes up for the price difference. But there is so much more.
Store products contain sulfates that are aggressive on the hair and suds so much that it tricks you into thinking that it is a superior product, when in fact, there is no need for a lather to actually clean the hair, we are just programmed to think that way. These aggressive sulfates strip the hair of its natural oils and sending your expensive color down the drain. You may as well be using laundry detergent. You wouldn’t wash silk or cashmere with laundry detergent, why would you treat your hair any differently.
Salon shampoos use Sodium Laureth Sulfite which is the most gentle lathering agent out there. Look for sulfate-free when buying a shampoo but also be aware if it sounds too good to be true (cheap), there are other types of lathering agents available that will do just as much damage but can be labeled sulfate-free. Another reason to trust the professionals on this one.
Conditioners are so important for our hair, they provide us with the necessary nutrients that our hair needs to be healthy. Store brands can have a wax or a lard base to make your hair feel like it is being conditioned, when instead it is being coated. These feel soft and silky to the touch but the surefire way to tell if it is actually doing anything for your hair is to shampoo it out. The way your hair feels when it is clean of waxes, oils and silicones is the best way to feel how healthy your hair really is. If it feels rough and is hard to get through then it is in need of moisture and is more than likely just getting coated.
I haven’t always used salon hair products. Before beauty school, before I knew better, I used store bought shampoo and conditioner. My hair looked like straw on the ends while looking like I hadn’t showered in weeks at the roots. That is because the shampoo destroyed my ends while the conditioner coated my roots, making them look greasy.
Salon conditioners contain beneficial ingredients like Keratin (protein) and Argan Oil and have large amounts of it. Oils are another tricky topic when talking hair products because many companies boast the use of oil in their products. But not all hair oils are created equal. Natural oils penetrate the hair and will condition from the inside. Silicones sit on the hair and will weight the hair down. That doesn’t mean silicones are bad, they’re just not adding any benefits. But this is a whole other can of worms. To find out more about these worms read The Truth About Argan Oil.
Products that are store bought have unsteady pH levels ranging from 4 to 9 while salon products are always within the safe 6 pH range. Hair and skin are both covered by a very thin fluid layer made up of oil, salt and water, called the mantle, which is slightly acidic (pH = 4.5 – 5.0). This acid mantle is very important in maintaining the proper balance of moisture in our hair and skin. It is also crucial in making the cuticle lie flat against the surface of the hair shaft, which makes hair smoother and shinier as the flat scales better reflect light.
“Mildly acidic products can be applied to the hair to harden the outer layer, flatten the cuticles, and shrink the diameter of the hair. This serves to make the hair glossy, shiny and less prone to tangling and snagging on adjacent hair strands. Hair that is close to its ideal pH of 4.5 – 5.0 is also at its peak strength. Shampoos and conditioners that are mildly acidic also have been noted to provide longer life to the color of hair that has been dyed. Alkaline products cause the hair to swell, the cuticle to lift and remove oils from the air. This results in frizzy, dull, brittle hair that is prone to breakage and tangling. Extremely alkaline solutions cause the disulfide bonds between keratin protein molecules to break down and can eventually dissolve the protein completely. These types of solutions are the ones used to perm or relax the hair and can be extremely damaging, especially to hair that is already fragile.” -naturallycurly.com
Lastly, there is a reason why on Salon Brand Products it reads, Only Guaranteed If Sold In Professional Salons. This means if you find these professional products at your local drug store, they could be compromised. Some are past the expiration date, others could have been tampered with. Either way, those products should not be there and as stated, are not guaranteed. To learn more about product diversion here is Matrix’s Anti-Diversion Policy.