Salon Products vs. Drugstore Brands: The Truth & Nothing But The Truth


April 1, 2009 (RALEIGH, NC) –We’ve all been there — wandering down the beauty aisle of our favorite drugstore, wondering if the .99-cent shampoo and conditioner is just too “economical” to pass up.  Jessica Williams, owner and senior stylist at Lather, a Raleigh hair salon, wants you to know the truth — and the science —  behind the drugstore vs. salon brand products controversy.

“Unless you work in the beauty industry, you have probably wondered if salon brands are actually worth the extra cost,” she said. “ More times then not, the answer is yes.”

First, she explains the science behind the truth:

“Believe it or not, all shampoos have the same basic ingredients. The differences are in the cleansing agents, which are also called surfactants. There are three kinds of surfactants: ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium laurel sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. Salon brands use sodium LAURETH sulfate, the most expensive of the three but also the gentlest.

“Ammonium laurel sulfate is the harshest surfactants, according to Williams.  It strips your hair of vital oils. And if you color your hair, ammonium laurel sulfate will strip the color MUCH quicker than sodium laureth sulfate (salon brands). Ammonium laurel sulfate is also the least expensive of the surfectants. That’s why most drugstore brands use it.”

That’s the science. Here are four more facts Williams suggests you keep in mind when you’re deciding between that .99-cent shampoo and your favorite salon’s pricier products:

(1) Salon products are professional products.  That means they are much more concentrated. You use smaller amounts of professional, or salon, products, so the product will last longer than a drugstore brand.  Bottom line: Ultimately, you won’t spend much more (if any) for a salon brand than a drugstore brand.

(2) Salon products come with more then a product in hand. They come with your stylist’s free recommendation based on his or her assessment of your hair’s specific needs. Different types of hair require different products for the best possible results. Take advantage of your stylist’s advice to get the best product for your hair.

(3) The best part about buying a salon product from a salon is that most salons will allow you to return or exchange the product if you are not happy with it.

(4)  Which brings us to the last fact: Be wary of “professional brands” sold in the mass market or discount beauty shops.  While you might possibly — possibly — be buying the same product, more times then not that product has been rerouted because it’s discontinued, old or tampered with. Typicaly, salon products are only guaranteed if purchased in a salon.

Lather is a full-service Raleigh hair salon located at 8521 Cantilever Way near the corner of Glenwood Ave./Highway 70 and Ebenezer Church Road. For more tips on hair care and products, visit Lather Hair Salon’s website (, click on “specials” then scroll down to the “Hair Academy 101” blog. Lather is also available on Facebook and at

Posted by blueplate pr

One thought on “Salon Products vs. Drugstore Brands: The Truth & Nothing But The Truth

  1. LeeAnn August 20, 2010 / 10:19 am

    I am SOOOOOO glad I found this on the internet. I too am a hairstylist in Georgia, and I have bn researching what to tell my clients about the difference between our products and the drugstore/walmart products. I just wanted some type of solid to proof to tell my clients, so it doesnt sound like I am just trying to sell them a product, that I am actually selling them the “medicine” needed for their hair. I wish everyone could read this. Thankyou so much for having this on here!!!!

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