Salon Shampoo vs. Supermarket Shampoo: Is There Really a Difference?

Alterna Ten Shampoo, $60
I can't count the number of times stylists have asked what kind of shampoo and conditioner I use as they examined my hair for the first time.


"Pantene," I generally say. The look I get from them in response ranges from deep pity to thinly veiled disgust. 


I've yet to meet a stylist who doesn't believe that salon shampoo is infinitely superior to supermarket brands.


Me? I'm not so sure ...


There was a time when I exclusively used salon shampoo on my hair. I wouldn't have touched the supermarket brands for anything.

Then I got my first apartment and my first job.

Goodbye, salon shampoo. Hello Pantene.

Pantene Pro-V, $6.99

I consider Pantene to be the gold standard of supermarket shampoos and conditioners, based solely on the fact that my hair has responded really well to it. These days, I could afford salon shampoos (the $60 shampoo pictured above excluded), but I just don't have the time or energy to make a special trip to a salon or beauty supply store to pick up shampoo and conditioner. So Pantene it is for me.

Occasionally, I have strayed into salon shampoo territory with Bedhead, Aveda, and Paul Mitchell products. They certainly smell divine, but I haven't noticed any real difference in the volume or texture of my hair.

What does seem to make a difference is minimizing the use of hot rollers, straighteners, curling irons, and hair dryers. I rarely have more than a few minutes to spend on my hair these days, so it's most often left in its natural state and frankly, since I've become a mom, it's never been in better shape.

Now that I've pontificated on my shampoo/conditioner philosophy, I want to know what you think about this debate. Are salon shampoos really better? Or are they just a way to part a fool and her money?



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mandy... mandyhornbuckle

Yes, I think there's a difference (though I definitely can't speak for the $60 shampoo above). I think a fancy conditioner makes much more of a difference than a fancy shampoo, though. I'll use panteen shampoo with Biolage conditioner and it's perfect. However, I really like Brilliant Brunette shampoos and conditioners now. They work wonderfully and the conditioner isn't watery like other cheaper brands!

Taylo... TaylorBaby

suave is actually the best thing you can buy from the store and it's the cheapest. i am a hairdresser and thats what i use.

Linds... LindsayFerrier

I'm using the new Suave Professionals line now (I got them as freebies) and I LOVE the way they smell. I like Pantene better on my hair, though, to be honest. When I buy more shampoo, I'll probably go back to Pantene.

clean... cleanaturalady

I use baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair.  Guess what kind of looks I get from the stylist when he/she asks me what I use.  The are always both disgusted and complimentary at the same time because my hair is in great condition.

Mom_e... Mom_et_al

I believe the type of hair you have makes all the difference.  I have women friends with fine, straight hair who have no problems with supermarket shampoo.  I have thick, frizzy, and curly hair, and when I use products such as Pantene or Suave the results are disastrous.  For my type of hair, Suave is extremely drying and promotes further frizz. I have learned that I require a salon product to keep my hair manageable. I have had the best results with the Sexy Hair line, and before that I LOVED Halo, but much to my dismay it has been discontinued. My daughter inherited my hair and at four years old I had to take her off the kid version of the Suave two-in-one and switched her over to adult shampoo.  We’re trying the hydration version of Herbal Essences right now, and had no choice but to start using a gel with her as well to combat the frizz. There is no doubt in my mind that the type of hair you have will dictate the quality of product you need to purchase.

LoriA... LoriAnn87

I use head and shoulder on my head because I sometimes get icty scalp and i have use salson shampoo but with my hair being thick it left my hair feeling weight down and oily.

nonmember avatar VHMPrincess

I switched to Redken from Aveda because my mom could get it 1/2 off - after 3 weeks my hair was less shiny and frizzier at the end (it is colored over my greys).  It wasn't soft. It was very dull.  3 days after going back to Aveda and it was PERFECT again.  I will never stray again.  Even my mom uses Redken because Aveda makes her hair TOO SOFT (she likes it VERY POUFY and WIDE - so less soft hair is better) and only uses Aveda like once a week.

nonmember avatar Betsy Madison

My hair stylist doesn't disapprove of supermarket shampoo but did advise me not to use Pantene when I started coloring my hair.  I was a Suave Professionals addict, but have started using coupons combined with CVS sales.  I'm using John Freida Root Awakening currently and am impressed--and it was super cheap!!

Midni... Midnite00

Suave I was told by a hair stylist was used to get lid of lice..... But I like the way my hair feels after I use the natural shampoos, Say Yes to Carrots,  Jason, etc.  I hav every fine thin hair and when I use those shampoos my hair feels thicker and is less greasy.   I also use very little shampoo. 

RanaA... RanaAurora

I get almost as good of results with $3 Aussie products as $15 Biolage products (who I don't buy anymore since it's tested on animals and owned by L'Oreal/Nestle).

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