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Do Salon Products Really Use Better Quality Ingredients?

Avatar • May 8, 2012

via The Beauty Brains

Reylena asks…Talking with my hairdresser she suggested that I use Oribe products which they sold at the salon. I told her that I was very well pleased switching off between my Aveeno and Garnier products, and asked her what was so special about this Oribe line of hair care that justified the price outside of smell and a pretty bottle. To this she told me that Oribe products are made with premuim grades of basic ingredients such as sulfates and silicone. And that the cones in drugstore products where made with cheaper, inferior, weaker silicone and sulfates. While I understand that their are different types of cones, and i’m sure that they all work a little different. However always I thought that good old Dimethicone would be the same bought in bulk by any company, for any product. Or are there truly different grades of quality?

The Right Brain responds:

This question comes from a discussion in our Forum where Reylena commented that her stylist “looked like I punched her in the face when I told her I use drug store brands.” Thanks for making me smile, Rey.

Higher cost does not mean higher quality…
As you suspected, your stylist is a bit misinformed. As we’ve explained before, stylists are often at the mercy of whatever they’re told by the salon companies which is often inaccurate, to say the least. In this particular case, it is NOT true that salon products buy higher quality grades of cosmetic ingredients than companies that make retail products.  Having spent over 40 years in the beautyindustry, we’ve worked with all the major suppliers of cosmetic raw materials and we can assure you that there is not a two-tiered pricing structure for retail and salon.

…but there are differences between ingredients
It is true, however, that you can purchase better types of ingredients. For example we wrote how the more expensive Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) is milder than the less expensive Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). And it’s true that you can buy different grades of a given raw material that may function differently. For example, a high molecular weight dimethicone can condition better than a lower weight of the same material. BUT, and this is the important part, all these different ingredients (and different versions of ingredients) are available to anyone in the industry who wants to purchase them.

Some ingredients are exclusive
So are we saying that there are no ingredients that are exclusive to certain companies? No, we’re not saying that at all. There are (at least) two situations where a company may be able to purchase (or at least use) a type of ingredient that is not available to any other company. The first situation occurs when a company has an exclusive purchasing agreement with a supplier.

It’s not uncommon in the industry for a raw material supplier to go to a beauty company and say something like “Hey I will give you exclusive rights to this raw material if you can guarantee me you will buy a kabillion pounds every month for the next 20 years.” However, and again this is the important point, this kind of arrangement only works when the beauty company is able to buy a large enough quantity of the raw material to justify the deal.

In other words, big companies who will buy a lot of a raw material are given the opportunity for these exclusive arrangements. And guess what?  Most salon brands are not big enough to justify these kind of deals. If a large manufacturerwho owns salon brands (like P&G, Unilever or L’Oreal) enters into an exclusive raw material agreement they’re likely to leverage that raw material  across as many brands as possible to make the use of it more profitable. The small salon companies just can’t afford to do this.

Patents can be exclusive
The other situation which can lead to one company having an exclusive use of a raw material involves patented technology. If a company has patented a certain application for an ingredient or combination of ingredients they may have exclusive rights to the use of that ingredient under certain circumstances. But guess who has the deep pockets required to research and develop new patented technologies? That’s right, it’s not the small exclusive salon brands.

The Beauty Brains bottom line
With all due respect to stylists (who really are haircutting artists and not technical gurus) salon companies do not buy better grades of raw materials than companies who make drugstore or other retail brands. So, spending more money on salon products does NOT guarantee you’re getting a better quality product.

Ladies, do you opt for salon quality products? Why or why not?

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stylistkendria
stylistkendria
8 years ago

As a licensed hairstylist, I learnedfrom and appreciated the information presented here, but I resent the the resoloution that a licensed hairstylist is just a ‘haircutting artist”. Many of us are technical gurus because we come across so many different hair textures and scalp conditions (not to mention hairloss issues) that out of necessity we must learn and create PROFESSIONAL ways to offer people styling options that suit their needs and many times, their lifestyles. I frequent this blog and blogs like it to learn how to better serve my chemical free client list, and I take offense to being… Read more »

Gia
Gia
8 years ago
Reply to  stylistkendria

I understand where your coming from but in BGLH’s defense if the author isn’t BGLH then it’s from an outside blogger and not necessarily the views of those on BGLH.

Thembi
Thembi
8 years ago
Reply to  stylistkendria

I hear you, and it is nice to know hair care professionals recognize the importance of sites such as this. Perhaps bglh might incorporate written submissions from hair care pros ; such as yourself:)

Annie L.
Annie L.
8 years ago
Reply to  stylistkendria

I read ‘technical guru’ as someone with advanced knowledge of the chemical components of ingredients found in beauty products in general or inside knowledge of a particular company’s brand (like a consultant), and “ ‘haircutting artist’ ” to be a skilled hair professional. I didn’t note any implied derision but that was my interpretation which could certainly be wrong so hopefully the OP will clarify.

merry
merry
8 years ago

i mainly use natural products. so, i start from there. i consider petroleum derived ingredients to be cheap ingredients, cuz they are. also, other chemical/man made ingredients also tend to be cheap. a person would have to decide for themselves whether paying $30 for miss jessie’s whatever is worth it considering many of their products are mineral oil based (petroleum), fake fragrance, artificial dyes, etc. if it works for someone, then good for them but i would not consider miss jessie’s products to be “quality.” there are however different grades of natural products. certain oils may be of a first or second pressing.… Read more »

sandy
sandy
8 years ago

I think only products with 100% natural ingredients should be used on hair. If I look at the list of ingredients and I see one word I cannot pronounce its going back on the shelf. hair products with 100% natural ingredients is what works best on any type of hair. products with chemicals you should stay far away from. I mostly find natural hair products at African beauty supplies and such. I currently use 100% natural black soap as a shampoo which leaves my hair soft, shiny, and clean. It also works great for skin . And i use 100%… Read more »

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago
Reply to  sandy

@ sandy — I really wish I could believe this. I really do. (And I’m being totally serious, not facetious.) In theory, I know it’s right. But in practice, it just doesn’t work for me. So I am slowly, surely coming to grips with the fact that my hair simply does not look or feel its best if I only use 100% all-natural products like you described. Now I have hesitated to jump off this part of the natural hair bandwagon for the better part of two years now. But I recently (read: Sunday night) succumbed to the allure of hair… Read more »

hehe
hehe
8 years ago
Reply to  BlackOnyx03

Creme of nature is the best shampoo I’ve use. It’s better than any of the %100 natural shampoos I used. It moisturize,clean,and keep my scalp from getting itchy and flaky. I tried so hard to go the all natural route but found that products that aren’t 100 percent natural can work great on my hair.

Toni
Toni
8 years ago
Reply to  hehe

So far in my search I have found this to be true

Amber
Amber
4 years ago
Reply to  sandy

But the thing is, everything on Earth is a chemical. “Natural” materials from the Earth are technically chemicals. Ever heard of the period table of elements? Those elements make up everything we know in existence. A lot of the ingredients on the back are just different forms of the natural substances from Earth. Many of the other gimmicky labels on products like aloe are actually just water or do not contain enough to truly affect your hair. However, the best way to know your hair care is to make it yourself, but many “chemicals” on the back of bottles are… Read more »

Natalie
Natalie
8 years ago

In the UK it is known that with food and other products some companies will have a premium product and then use the same ingredients for a cheaper version of their product, I think the same is probably true for the cosmetic and hair industry. Personally, I do not use manufactured products on my hair or skin and avoid processed foods as I understand many of them contain MSG and the sweetner aspartame, in fact you would be surprised at what processed foods contain sugar or a sugar derivative. It is quite simple to make your own hair and skin… Read more »

Amber
Amber
4 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

MSG actually isn’t any worse for you than table salt. The study that everyone freaked out about was done on rats injected with enough MSG for a horse. In other words, the study was not done on humans. The rats had it injected, second of all, rather than eating it, which makes a world of difference. Intravenously is not the same as orally. The amount that was injected was also equivalent to more than 20 times the amount that a human would ever ingest in one sitting. There are no other studies that point out the “dangers” of MSG other… Read more »

J
J
8 years ago

I use anita grant,aubrey organics and lovea bio and they all work well for my hair.synthethics ain,t gor nothing on nature because it’s the best.Salon brands can be deceiving if only people would read the label they would fix their ways quick!

Henry's Hair studio .
Henry's Hair studio .
7 years ago

Hello I’m trying to find the Afro Hair Supply in Brisbane and if you can help me that would be wonderfull thank you .Regards Henry.

Am
Am
4 years ago

I only do if they are on sale and I only use Redken! I don’t buy most of the hype; obviously the salon industry is formulated to maintain a monopoly on certain products so certain companies with control can control the prices. I have bought some cheaper conditioners and shampoos at beauty supply stores that haven’t disappointed me either. Honestly, your shampoo and conditioner are only a small part of the entirety of hair care. A lot of the rest depends on diet, what leave in products you use, how often you use heat tools, what you use to brush… Read more »

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