Drugstore vs Salon Products. Don’t You Deserve the Best?


I think we’ve all experienced those “down-and-out” days when we only had enough money to buy a roll of toilet paper at a time. For many, like me, it occurred during those college days, and the thought of buying salon products for my hair or face was so far beyond me, I used to dream of the day when I could afford them.

So, I had to make do with drugstore products – my “go-to” shampoo was usually Prell, because it was a concentrate, and I could even cut the tube it came in, to scrape out the last little bit to use. Just squeeze a little bit in your hand, add water, and you had shampoo! They still make Prell with the promise that it is a water-based formula that leaves your hair ultra-clean. A 24 oz., bottle is usually priced under $4.

The problem with those drugstore shampoos and conditioners was, that while they may contain SOME of the same products found in pricier salon ones, they’re in minuscule amounts.

They typically contain other chemicals that “stretch” out their usefulness, but also act as fillers that can strip your hair of its natural oils. Manufacturers add pleasing aromas, and a creamy feel, to make you think their formulas are better than they actually are.

Another key ingredient of drugstore products is just that – the ingredients. Remember that when reading product ingredients on any label, the first one listed is the strongest and the last one is the weakest. That means if your shampoo or conditioner lists H20 as the first ingredient, your shampoo is more water than anything else.

OTC products may also include alcohol, which is a one-way ticket to hair dryness. It may not be the first ingredient listed, but if it’s it in the top 5 – buyer beware.

There’s been a lot of discussion about sulfates in personal care products, but they are still in use, frankly, because they lather well. They also have a tendency to dry out hair and strip out color.

Sulfates may be listed on the product label under several different names: ammonium laurel sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, or sodium laurel sulfate.

Sulfate-based products are much tougher on your scalp because again they literally strip hair of its natural oils. In the long run, the store brand products are going to weigh down and dry out the scalp causing dandruff, static, breakage, and just BAD HAIR.

One final note on the drugstore products: they usually have a higher pH level, in upwards of 9 range, while salon products are always within the safe 6 pH range. A higher pH count almost always strips your hair of the good ingredients, as well as leaves hair frizzy, tangled, and with a straw-like texture.

Why and When I Switched to Salon Hair Care

I remember almost exactly when I said good-bye to those store-bought products. I was in my early 30’s, and had been painting my very first condominium, when a pint of paint color fell on my head. I had bent over and accidentally hit the ladder holding the paint color and plop – it hit the top of my head. It was an oil-based paint and I knew immediately I was in trouble.

I quickly tried to wash it out, then wrapped my head in a towel and headed to the first salon I could find.

Luckily, they had an open appointment and started to work on my hair. First, they let my hair soak in shampoo, as they used a fine-tooth comb to remove the loosening paint. Then they used Olive Oil, which did a pretty good job – but I still had to have my hair cut.

I was devastated. But after working on my hair for almost 3 hours, the result was no-more-paint-in-the-hair, and an attractive new bob cut – with an armload of salon shampoos and conditioners to help “heal and restore” my hair.

I learned 2 lessons that day: one is that stylists really will go out of their way to help you out of a jam. They study your hair – the texture, the growth, the length, and any additional problems you may have that you may not even know about.

The second lesson I learned is – that after they study your hair, they can “diagnose” what’s wrong, and “prescribe” the products that can help overcome those problems…and not just for the time-being, but for a lifetime.

I was so grateful to that salon that I frequented it from then on, and purchased whatever they suggested for my hair. The products prevented my knotted and snarled hair after shampooing, and restored the luster. I never went back to store-bought products after that.

Now my experience isn’t the only reason to switch to salon products – let’s face it, how often will any of you reading this pour paint on your hair? However, it proved that for an expert solution, go to the experts, and you can’t do that standing in the aisle of your local drugstore.

When your doctor gives you a prescription, you don’t take it to the drugstore and ask the pharmacist to recommend an off-the-shelf product instead…so why trust your personal care to a mass manufacturer who knows nothing about your hair, nothing about the challenges you face – and certainly nothing about how to fix it.

I recently came across a shocking statistic: 80% of us misdiagnose our own hair problems. 80%! Most women say they want that “salon look,” to last and last – but then they go back to using cheaper products, expecting it to recapture that salon quality.

For salon-perfect hair, you have to use salon-perfect products. And yes, they are more expensive, but you may find that you only have to use a fraction of the quantity you used with the lesser-type products, so the price may even out over the long run.

You may also find you don’t have to wash your hair as often, because the products your stylist recommends contains more active ingredients of what you need – like vitamins (B complex, vitamin E, calcium, iron), proteins (like keratin), fatty acids that promote hair growth, and antioxidants to help retain color, combat dry scalp, and repair split ends.

It’s been years since that paint-spilling episode and I’ve since moved and bought a bigger house. Fantasia Salon & Hair Restoration Center not only delivers expert styling, but also professional-grade products at affordable prices.

I’ve found that as I age, my hair requires different hair care products, and my Fantasia Specialist knows exactly what to recommend – at which stage of my life. The key is to have healthy hair – and that means seeing your “doctor of hair” – a Fantasia Hair Specialist – regularly and always using what they “prescribe.”

You’ll look better, feel better, and even act with more confidence, knowing you’re doing the very best for your hair – and isn’t that what being healthy is all about?