August 11, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

A recent question from a good friend of mine made me think of making this post. The question was dealing with what kind of drugstore product did I recommend for his hair ( styling wise ). I am making the assumption that he is broke or just unable, for whatever reason, to afford professional product. So, that made me decide to write a bit about the difference between drugstore brands and professional hair care products and why you should buy your hair care products from your stylist or a professional beauty salon, barber, etc. only.


The first difference I noticed when I went from drugstore shampoo/conditioner to a professional brand when I started hair school was the quality. The product actually did what it said it would do. A moisturizing shampoo would actually make a difference in how my hair felt, how it styled, etc.. The reason this happens is because the majority of professional brand products take years to develop and use top of the line ingredients. There are very few if any fillers ( products such as water, salt, and other surfactants ). These fillers dilute the effectiveness of the working ingredients and allow companies to sell a bottle of shampoo at a lower price.  The problem with fillers is that now it takes more product ( shampoo, conditioner, mousse, etc. ) to do the job and it may not even do the job it says it is supposed to do. I, personally, have tried a slew of products in the past that were supposed to do something specific, such as smooth my crazy curls, only to discover that they change nothing. There are also different grades of the ingredients being used in these products and non-professional brands tend to use a lower grade of quality, making the product less effective and forcing you to buy it more often. One of the most common fillers used in Shampoos are salts. These salts are added to increase the amount of suds you get when washing your hair. There is a perception that the more suds = more cleansing, but that is not the case. The cleansing comes only from the actual cleansing agent/s, and not the suds.

I work extensively with Bumble and Bumble, an exclusive line out of New York. It may take years for them to release a new product because they will not release it without it being perfect. The ingredients used are more natural, high quality, pure and filler free. The product does what it says it is going to do because of the better quality ingredients and the R&D that goes in to formulation.

Which brings me to my next point...

( Research and Development )

I will use Bumble and Bumble as an example as I know them well. Bumble and Bumble started the retail product line with one product, Brilliantine, back in 1990. It was created because their session stylists ( stylists who do hair for photos shoots, runways, movies, etc.. ) needed a product that could create shine and smoothness in the hair without the crunchy, slicked gel look. Brilliantine was born, but not released until it went through numerous testings, formula tweaks and generally was looked at through a microscope to find the slightest flaw. What they got and still have today,is a product that does exactly what it says it does and is a still being sold in huge numbers today, over 20 years later. There are not too many products in either salons or drug store that can boast about that. In the last 20 years, the Bumble line has expanded to include over 20 products for every hair type and style. Each product goes through the same testings and examinations as the original Brilliantine did. It takes years before a product is released because it will not hit the shelves until it is perfect and Bumble and Bumble is not the only product line to do this. The K-Pak line from Joico has also undergone a lot of R&D to get it to the point it is at now. Without getting into the specifics, K-Pak uses actual human hair keratin to repair your hair. It is not synthetic keratin but actually created in a process that I only half understand, out of real human hair. The result is a product that repairs damaged hair like no other. It has taken years upon years of research and development for K-Pak to get to where it is at. It has been voted, by consumers and stylists alike, as the number 1 hair repair line 10 years in a row. Why do professional companies put so much time and effort into making sure their products are the best they can be? Because their name is tied directly to these products and their recognition comes from having a quality product, not from tv ads or celebrity endorsements. The majority of professional products rely on the quality and functionality of the product to speak for itself, thus allowing more time and money to go into developing better items. That cannot be said for most non-professional brands with major television and print ad campaigns.


There are quite a few products on the shelves from pomades to waxes, mousses to gels, voluminous sprays to moisturizing conditioners. And there are multiple brands of each one. Knowing what to choose is 3/4 of the battle. Buying from a professional salon, from a stylist you trust, gives you the benefit of knowing that the product you are walking out the door with is the right product for you. Many people will think they need a certain product for their hair; for example, they think their hair is dry so they get moisturizing products. As it may turn out, the hair may be chemically damaged and needs keratin and repairing products to fix it. No matter how many moisturizing products are used, the hair will never be repaired. If you are sick, you go to a doctor to tell you what drugs to take. If you hair is 'sick' getting the cure from a professional makes sense. In a drug store, there is no one to help in the decision and no professional who knows your hair to tell you what it needs. There are more then a few people who end up with a closet full of half full products that don't work.


Does it cost more to purchase a professional product over a non-professional product? Initially, yes. The price you pay at the time will be more, sometimes a lot more. You are paying for the R&D that goes into the product, the high quality ingredients and the training and knowledge your stylist has to recommend that product to you. But, if that is not enough to get you over the $ amount on the product, have I got something for you.

The average application of a non-professional shampoo is $0.08 per wash.

The average application of a professional shampoo is $0.05 per wash.

That's right! It is actually more cost effective in the long run to use the professional quality product.

The reason for this difference is, as discussed earlier, the quality of the products and the lack of fillers allowing the product to actually work how it is supposed to. The shampoo may not suds up as much, the conditioner may not feel as thick, the mousse may not expand as much. But, if applied properly as your stylist recommends, the product will work better so you will need to use less and it will last longer.

Another way to see the cost is that it is maintenance for your hair. If you bought a $40,000 vehicle, you would make sure you are spending money on a good oil change, good tires, transmission flushes, etc. to keep you car in top shape. You want to make sure you keep your investment at it's best. Your hair is no different. The average women spends $165 each appointment on their hair. Why would you not want to spend another 10%-20% on making sure that investment is taken care of. Colours last longer and look newer, hair can be styled for a longer period of time, and yours frustration with your hair is kept to a minimum with professional products.

Before I finish here, I just want to touch a little on something that is called diversion. In essence, professional products end up in drugstores through unauthorized means ( theft, 'fell off the truck', a salon going out of business ) and are sold. It clearly states on most of these bottles that the product should only be sold in professional salons. The problems with buying diverted products are many. The main concerns being health. There is no way to guarantee or prove that what is in the bottle is actually the product it claims to be. There is no way to know what the packaged date or expiration date is on the product or if it has been kept in proper storage before making it to the shelf. One could be buying dish soap that has been on a shelf for three years in a sub zero storage unit when they thought they were buying a Redken shampoo. If certain chemicals have been added, there could be adverse effects on your hair, your skin and your over all health.

Well, enough for tonight. Hope you had a good read! Questions, comments, insults, etc...please feel free to leave them.

Happy Hair Days


Oh, and invite your friends...there can never be too many.


  1. Thank you! That was very informative!! I noticed a big difference using the Bumble and Bumble shampoo and conditioner, and since I've finally ventured into the world of hairspray, I've not been able to get used to that gross sticky feel I get from my drug store spray. I'll be sure to pick up some good stuff next time I visit you! :D