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Are you causing your hair harm? Professional vs. Drugstore Haircare

Are you causing your hair harm? Professional vs. Drugstore Haircare


Choosing the right haircare products can be hard enough. But when you add in the element of choosing between salon quality or drugstore, it can occasionally leave you downright frustrated. After all, is the difference between the professional quality and the ease of purchasing at your local grocer going to make that much of a difference?

In short, yes.

But there is so much more to consider that makes this a question of a lifetime. But, have no fear, we’re here to guide and inform you. And, while we’re at it, possibly transform your hair, one product at a time.

A Prescription for Haircare

Just like any care advice you recieve from a professional, haircare is prescribed. By definition, a prescription relates to anything that can only be obtained by means of a professional. In the salon, that means getting a product recommendation from a licensed cosmetologist who understands the ins and outs of the product, including the ingredients, benefits, and usage. A haircare prescription is given with consideration to your hair type, history, and goals.

Filling your haircare prescription ensures that your hair’s specific needs are being met. If your hair is curly and your need is a highly moisturizing conditioner to prevent your hair from reaching out for moisture (AKA: FRIZZ!), we’ll fill the prescription. Or if your hair is fine or thin and you need a volumizing condition that will lay the appropriate amount of fibers on top of one another to create a specific level of fullness, we’ll find your perfect match. No matter your hair goals, professional products will leave your hair softer, smoother, silkier, and shinier by adding the best quality cationic surfactants that coat each fiber of your hair. And even producing the most easily detangled hair possible (who doesn’t want to see less hair in their brush?).

And with any prescription, the best time to get it filled is upon receiving it. The most important time in your hair’s journey is to use professional haircare after getting it colored or highlighted. Once you’ve altered the color or chemical makeup of the hair, it’ll need help rebalancing with implementation of proper oils, moisture, and protein contents.

The Benefits of Salon Quality Products


When you use a prescribed haircare product, you are protecting the shelf-life and longevity of your hair color. This can allow for more weeks in between salon visits, where your hair still looks beautiful and maintains that fresh out of the salon quality and look.


Salon quality products offer protection for your hair. They create a protective barrier between UV rays and the color, preventing fading or discoloration. And, as a bonus, prolonging the life and strength of your color.


Most professional products have removed all sulfates. In your shampoo routine, this ensures that all cleansing and scrubbing is done manually with your fingertips instead of with harsh detergents that will etch away at your brand new color.


With top quality ingredients, such as ceramides and arginines, professional grade products help restore hair that has been ravaged or dried out. Some top quality shampoos use cysteine bonds to recreate the strength it once had while also adding back softness, which, up until the introduction of this ingredient, was virtually impossible for shampoos.

Ingredients That Actually Matter

Once you’ve located a recommendation from your favorite beauty professional, your next wise step should be to glance at the label. With a quick scan, you’ll need to look for certain red flag ingredients that could ruin your gorgeous locks. And the higher up you see any of these ingredients, the more of it there is in the product, and the stronger the red flag should be waving.


Did we mention this ingredient is featured in laundry detergent and toothpaste? Sulfates are cleansing agents made up of detergents used in shampoos to do the scrubbing and sudsing for you. They remove oil, dirt, and debris very effectively– sometimes too effectively, as they can be very harmful to dry or frizzy hair and sensitive scalps. These ingredients scratch the color off of the hair strand as it cleanses. In the absence of sulfates, you’ll need to make sure you are properly scrubbing your scalp to make up for the loss of cleansing chemicals. But this is the perfect opportunity to learn how to give yourself a cleansing scalp massage, to further bring the salon home with you.


If you see a word ending in “-cone”, it’s a silicone. Silicone can be a little tricky in the sense of the existence of good and bad silicones. There are “soft” silicones, which are generally considered to be on the good side, while “heavier” silicones exist on the darkside.

Soft silicones are considered breathable and water soluble, meaning they can be broken down when washed with water and shampoo. A common soft silicone is cyclomethicone– and spying this ingredient on the label shouldn’t immediately raise a red flag but should urge you to tread with caution.

Heavy silicones, on the other hand, create more product build up and can cause irritation of the scalp and hair follicle. Keep your eyes peeled for amodimethicone and dimethicone, silicones that signal danger ahead, especially in excess.

Sodium Chloride

As the name suggests, this ingredient is salt. We use salt on roads to reduce moisture and to melt snow and ice, we don’t need it to reduce moisture in our hair, too. Adding this ingredient to your shampoo can create a very dry scalp and, if unchecked and untreated, can lead to hair loss. When companies add sodium chloride to their product, it reduces the excess moisture that is left on your scalp. So when it comes time to brush, blow dry, and style, your hair is dried out, prone to damage, and can be too easily broken.

Fill Your Prescription with the Professionals

We know why it’s important to invest in salon quality products, and we know what specific ingredients are harmful to use on your beautiful head of hair. All you need now is a roadmap to find these lovely products.

When you purchase from your home salon, you are not only ensuring that your personally prescribed products will be with you the whole way, but you’re saying to your hairstylist “I trust you, and I trust our plan”. Investing in the plan with your stylist shows that you are committed to the goal and that you understand your role in achieving that dream hair.

But. Let’s be honest. Sometimes you may be out of town, or nowhere near your hair salon, or (GASP!) just found a better deal. As salon professionals, we support our guests and want them to use top quality products no matter what it takes, even if that means finding that product elsewhere. And if you have a final destination in mind, be sure to pay attention to the road signs along the way.

You have already made the investment in your hair, continue this investment in yourself and protect all of your hard work. We are here to assist you in answering any questions you may have, and would love to offer professional recommendations from a licensed professional during your next visit at our salon!

Never purchase your products from Amazon

You cannot guarantee they weren’t tampered with, and you’re flirting with the possibility that they are knockoffs or poorer quality. #Diversion is a very massive problem on the platform. Instead, focus on a retailer such as Ulta or Sephora: where your products are new and guaranteed, and you’re rewarded with a loyalty system (APH has one, too!)

Be cautious with discount retailers.

This means fan favorites Ross, TJMAxx, Home Goods, and Nordstrom Rack. They frequently sell old and expired products, and even place opened items back on the shelf if they’ve been returned. By using grocery or drugstore products instead of professional, you can almost always guarantee that they are loaded with exceptional amounts of water and alcohol. The extreme of these ingredients will dry out your hair and begin to rapidly undo all of the hard work, time, effort, and money you spent inside of the salon.