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Salon vs. supermarket hair products: What’s the diff?

When it comes to hair products, your hairdresser is a little biased: They will obviously tell you to ditch supermarket brands in favour of their stocked ranges because they have a fiscal interest in your decision. Are they really worth it?

Splurge-worthy or a waste of money?
Beautiful hair

Supermarket brand hair products will set you back around $3 to $8 a bottle, while hairdresser alternatives can be priced at up to $50 each for shampoo and conditioner. For many women, it’s a financial no-brainer: At a quarter of the price (or even less), the supermarket brand wins.

But according to Emiliano Vitale, Creative Director for E Salon, the financial savings involved in using supermarket products pale in comparison to the benefits of using high-quality products.

“The key differences between professional salon and non-professional or supermarket products really does come down to one major fact — the amount of quality ingredients, and the concentration levels,” he says.

Harmful detergents

“You may notice that some shampoos lather quite easily. This is usually due to the harmful detergents and surfactants that are used to produce this,” Vitale explains.

“Professional, salon-only brands often lather less because they have gentler, more-concentrated surfactants.”  

Conditioning agents

Supermarket shampoos and conditioners generally have a high detergent base, so they overcompensate for this by ramping up the conditioning agents to provide a softening effect for the hair.

“This causes the hair stress, resulting in a synthetic build-up or residue in the hair,” Vitale says.

Concentration levels

The purchase price of each bottle of shampoo and conditioner you buy may not be the most accurate means of comparison, Vitale suggests, as you will generally use less product per wash when using a higher quality product.

“Salon-only products are more concentrated — their ingredients are more refined, and the product is not watered down. Therefore, you will use less each time,” he confirms.

Expert endorsement

Without the benefit of clip-in extensions and a professional stylist on hand, you may not be able to create magazine-quality hair looks from basic grocery store shampoo brands. This is particularly the case if you have dry, damaged or frizzy hair, which requires special attention to nurture back to health.

If you want to achieve a certain outcome with your hair, such as more shine or less breakage, consider seeking out a hairdresser with a look and style that you admire, and ask them what products they are using?

“The reality is, we, as hairdressers only use products that we believe in and contain the latest developments in research and development needed to deliver the very highest quality ingredients that deliver genuine results,” Vitale adds.

“Ultimately, you be the judge. Use what you have found gives the best results for your hair. Just remember that what you use for smoothing will not help you achieve volume, and what you use for volume will not deliver soft, supple and silky smooth hair. Specific products deliver specific results and only your stylist can tell you what is best for your hair type and condition.”

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