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. Let Lather, a Raleigh hair salon, solve the mystery! Keep reading to find the truth and the science behind drugstore and salon brand products.

Unless you work in the beauty industry, you have probably wondered if salon brands are actually worth the extra cost.  More times then not, the answer is YES. And here’s why:

Believe it or not ALL shampoo’s 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 of the three surfectants.  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.

Here are a few general facts to keep in mind, science aside.

* Salon products are professional products.  That means they are much more concentrated.  You use smaller amounts of professional, or salon, products, which means the product will last longer then a drugstore brand.  Bottom line: Ultimately, you wont be spending much more ( if any) for a salon brand than a drugstore brand.

* Salon products come with more then the product.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.

* 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.

* 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 the product has been rerouted because it’s discontinued, old or tampered with.  Typically salon products are only guaranteed if purchased in a salon.