Professional hair products

Courtesy Dieter Mersmann

A recent survey by Choice Magazine again finds there is not much in it when it comes to the difference between professional and grocery shampoos and conditioners, but is this survey fundamentally floored?

When VirtualHairCare looked into their findings we found that the way consumers were tested and the range of products tested really was unbalanced.

But you be the judge:

  • Ratings were given based on fragrance, consistency, lather and that clean feeling.
  • 500 people were asked (100 men and 400 women).
  • Shampoos were tested in isolation (i.e. not with a conditioner).
  • 41 shampoos were tested of which 16 were salon only, 5 were sold in pharmacies and 20 were supermarket brands.

What we think:

  • Fragrance is such a personal thing and has little or no baring on the quality or effectiveness of a product.
  • The uneven proportion of professional v grocery products means that grocery were always going to come out on top.
  • Squeaky clean really means that the hair has been stripped of natural oils which help to maintain the acid mantel and protect the hair.
  • A shampoo tested with out a conditioner does not give a true result of its capabilities.



The difference between 'professional' or 'salon only' and grocery store products.

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When a product has been professionally diagnosed for your hairs special needs, by a hair care expert, it is going to be more suited to you than something that you have picked up off the shelf at your local store.

Good quality means nothing, as without expert advice you may not find the right one for you. In fact, you could use one that is not suitable at all. For example, general use or "family shampoo", won't treat your partners dandruff, your babies cradle cap and your frizzy ends at the same time! With statistics showing that 80% of us miss diagnose our own hair type and so purchase the wrong products, when left to our own devices, you can see where the difference lies.

A reasonably new marketing strategy of selling you a product that has a specific purpose rather than treats a specific hair type does make life a lot easier. E.g. you want volume then you buy 'volume' shampoo rather than 'fine hair' shampoo.

As with most things, price is a good indicator of quality when trying to choose a hair care product and applies equally to the products you buy at your salon or the grocery store. Once you reach the upper middle to high price range the ingredients will be of a better quality and contain more of them (e.g. real essential oils rather than the cheap non-pure versions) and on the reverse of the coin, if you buy really cheap brands you will get what you pay for.

Professional brands on the whole use gentler surfactants (a type of soap used in shampoo) in more concentrated amounts, so you need far less product than with a grocery store brand to achieve the same result. The recommended serving of professional shampoo or conditioner is 5 ml per serve (the average cap full) whilst you may have to use three or four times more to get the same result from a cheap grocery store brand. However, the quality of the upper end of the grocery brands is easily comparable to the lower to mid range of the professional brands so it really is your decision at the end of the day.

  • Your shampoo and conditioner are the foundation of a good hair style and should not be under valued when creating your look.
  • A shampoo should always be followed by a conditioner as a shampoo is negatively charged and a conditioner is positively charged, therefore one will balance or neutralize the other helping to restore the natural barrier (acid mantel) and protect the hair.

See How to Shampoo your Hair and How to Condition your Hair for more info on the importance of choosing the right shampoo and conditioner to alleviate styling problems.


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