Professional VS Drug Store Shampoo

A client once told me “I seriously love my dove shampoo.” , I politely asked her “why?” As I cringed.


“Well it makes my hair so soft.” Again I cringe and try to politely explain to her in non-technical terms just why it is making her hair feel so soft. The conversation continues to go back and forth for about 10 minutes, and then a light bulb goes off in her head and she is immediately disgusted by the fact that she has been abusing her hair for most of her life, which wasn’t her fault because none has ever taken the time to explain to her the positives and negatives of hair products. That’s where I come in.

First, let’s start with why drug store shampoos make you hair feel so soft. Frankly, it’s all in the ingredients and not only the quality of ingredients used, but the quantity as well. Some brands boast using the same products as salon quality shampoos. That is probably true. What these drug store brands fail to mention is that they are not using the equivalent amounts of those ingredients.

So just what are these drug store brand shampoos using? Good question.

Drug store brands such as Herbal Essence and Suave may be using a small portion of the high-grade ingredients that salon brands use, but the rest of the products consists of fillers and chemicals. Lots of ingredients that are harsh on your hair sound similar to products that are nourishing for your hair. Take for example the common ingredient sodium laureth sulfite, that creates the “safe” sudsing effect in the shampoo. Many companies have come up with versions of this ingredient that sound very similar but aren’t so great for your hair, such as ammonium laurel sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, or sodium laurel sulfate. These are actually harsh chemicals that strip your hair of natural oils, essentially drying your hair out. This is often confusing to the consumer because all of those ingredients sound the same, especially when you have no idea what any of that means.

The typical pH of hair ranges from 4.5-5.5 and averages at about 5.0. Salon grade shampoos are tested and have a pH that range from 5 to 7, which is considered neutral. Drug store grade shampoos range greatly from 4-9 on the pH scale. At this point you might as well be washing your hair with baking soda which has a pH of 8.4.

So, how could these products be making my hair so soft? Common client question. The answer? Fillers. Fillers can be anything at all to “take up room” in the shampoo so that it costs the company less money to create the product. Ingredients such as wax and animal fat among many other gross products that leave a build-up on the hair shaft that gives the illusion that your hair is softer when it’s really not. What its really doing is creating a waxy build up that is preventing your hair from accepting any positive ingredients from any other salon grade product that you may use. So if your drug store grade shampoo is full of fillers, just how much of the product do you have to use in order to clean your hair?


“But I cannot afford salon grade shampoos, they just aren’t within my budget.”


A typical retail sized salon grade shampoo is usually somewhere around 10 oz, pretty similar to drug store grade shampoos. ColorProof retail size shampoos get anywhere from 65-85 shampoos depending on hair length and density. Even if you’re washing your hair every single day, which most people do not do, you are getting at the very minimum of two and a half months-worth of shampoos out of your ColorProof shampoo.
How many shampoos are you getting out of a similar sized drug store grade shampoo? Definitely nowhere near 65 shampoos, which brings me to the point of guaranteeing your shampoo. Typically, salons guarantee their products; meaning if you don’t like the product you can bring it back and return it for a product that might work better for you. Have you ever gone into a CVS and asked to return a shampoo because it just isn’t working for you?

So the next time you are in the drug store and you think about picking up that awesome smelling shampoo, take a second to think about the fact that the product is just a watered down version of a salon product with harmful ingredient substitutes that leave tons of build-up on your hair and is essentially costing you more money. Let’s be honest when your hair doesn’t look good, you don’t feel good. Take a journey into the world of professional products and see and feel what your hair has been missing.

By Jacklyn Brunning