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

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Running & Buzzing: Lather Hair Salon in N. Raleigh Gives Back, Times Two

Jessica and Jay Williams after the Lo Tide Run in Carolina Beach.
Jessica and Jay Williams after the Lo Tide Run in Carolina Beach.

March 20, 2009 – A 10K run and a day of creating buzz cuts defined one busy weekend for Lather Hair Salon in Raleigh as owner Jessica Williams welcomed opportunities to help charities meet their fundraising goals in a difficult economy.

On Friday, March 14, Williams and her husband Jay participated in the 5th Annual Steve Haydu St. Patricks Lo Tide Run at Carolina Beach, an annual event that raises money for individuals and families battling cancer with little or no insurance coverage. The Steve Haydu St. Patrick’s Lo Tide Fund is a non-profit organization created in 2004 to assist the family of Steve Haydu, a Carolina Beach native, who was without health insurance when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Williams admitted that she placed 196th out of the 214 runners participating that misty day on the Atlantic Coast (her husband placed 50th), but placement in the race wasn’t the point. “I just liked the feeling that I’d accomplished something – something that helped an extremely good cause,” she said.

Then on Sunday, March 15, Williams and her staff showed up at Lynnwood Grill near Raleigh’s Glenwood Avenue/Highway 70 to shave heads as part of the annual St. Baldrick’s event to raise awareness and funds to cure children’s cancer by supporting cancer research and fellowships. “Shavees” donate to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and solicit other donations from friends and family. As a result, they get their heads shaved to show solidarity with kids undergoing chemotherapy.

According to St. Baldrick’s website (, the event began “as a casual conversation between friends and has exploded into the world’s biggest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer! In nine years, events have taken place in 18 countries and 48 US states, raising over $50 million, and shaving more than 72,000 heads.”

Nearly 100 people – men and women —  showed up for the Lynnwood Grill event, sitting out on the restaurant’s porch as the Lather stylists and other salons shaved them bald.

“It was fun to play ‘barber’ for day,” said Williams, noting that her upscale salon seldom gets a request for a full head shave! “But most importantly, I love the fact that this is one more way for Lather to give back to our community. We’re always looking for opportunities to get involved with the community that makes it possible for us to be in business.”

Williams announced recently that Lather is offering free shampoos, cut and styles for any who comes into her salon to donate their long hair to Locks of Love ( Appointments are recommended.

A full-service hair salon, Lather opened in October of 2008 just off Glenwood North/Highway 70 at 8521 Cantilever Way,. For more information, including business hours, appointments, and to read the salon’s “Hair Academy” blog, go to Lather is also available on Facebook and at

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From Lather Hair Salon: Hair Care for Hard Times

March 2, 2009 (RALEIGH, NC) — Lets face it.  In this climate of economic insecurity, taking care of your hair isn’t quite the priority it once was. You may not be able to handle the cost of a monthly haircut, much less color maintenance. So here are some tips from the professional stylists at Lather, a Raleigh hair salon,  to help you stretch the time between maintenance visits, save some money, and still take good care of your hair:

* Choose a low maintenance hairstyle.  A “bob “is high on the list of cost effective cuts that last for months.

* This a great time to change hair color habits. Avoid dramatic colors reminiscent of crayola. They require a huge amount of maintenance.

* Consider low lights instead of high-lights. Low lights last for months.

* If you simply love your highlights and can’t imagine life with them, try to keep them a bit more subtle — no more then four shades lighter then your own natural hair. You won’t have to touch them up nearly as often.

* For those who want to cover up just a little grey, opt for a demi-permanent dye similar to your own color. This will last six to nine weeks with NO re-growth lines.

* For those who need to cover a lot of grey, keep it natural.  Get a permanent color that is within one to two shades of your natural hair color.

* Root Lifts are a great “economically friendly” way to maintain highlights without having to pay for a full or partial highlight every time.

* Excessive shampooing and conditioning can leave hair full of residue and it strips the hair of it’s natural oils. Reducing the frequency of shampooing will allow your hair’s natural oils to do the job of conditioning and save you some money on product purchases.

* Referrals. Stylists are always on the look out for new clients, and almost all of them will show their appreciation if you refer a friend or two to them.

To see many more hints and tips from Lather‘s team of professional stylists, visit the Raleigh hair salon‘s blog — “Hair Academy 101.”

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