DISCUSSION: Hair Products – Salon vs Supermarket

For many women justifying the cost of salon exclusive hair products is impossible, while others will avoid cheap supermarket brands like the plague.

This week’s discussion is about whether salon brands really are superior and I will let you fight it out (in a calm and friendly manner of course) in just a moment so bare with me.

I was born with unruly, unmanageable hair. It’s thick, it’s curly and it’s prone to frizz. My poor mum didn’t know what to do with it as a child so she always cut it short so she didn’t have to deal. Hairdressers used to make me cry by curling it up as much as possible so I’d look like Nicole Kidman (in case you don’t remember her hair was indeed, once curly!)

The hair straightener changed my life, and Nicole’s too it seems, and ever since I’ve worn my hair straight to some extent. Where am I going with this? The fact is, I always had hair issues and I have tried almost every product and brand out there.

shampoo and conditioner

Four personal hair lessons I have learnt are:

1. Always let a hairdresser cut my hair, and do it regularly: Split ends only get worse and having hair slightly shorter will always look and feel better than having long hair that looks damaged.
2. Never use at home hair colours:  I used to be a big at home hair colour girl in my teens and some people look really great with an out of the box colour – but for me they dry out my hair and the colour just doesn’t stick.
3. Salon brands work better but there are exceptions: Having naturally dry hair I find the more expensive brands often do improve the condition of my hair, especially masks. That being said you can get some little gems right there in your supermarket aisle.
4. Short hair makes me look like a boy...and that has nothing to do with this discussion so I’m not even going to bother thinking up a fifth point.

I have the luxury of testing products for a living so the price point isn’t a factor when it comes to haircare so they all start on an even playing field. Personally though, I am going to say that salon brands win – but not always by a long shot. However, salon colour always wins over home hair colour!

One of the most common things a hairdresser will tell you is that “supermarket brands coat your hair”. A lot of the time this is true, but what if you WANT your hair coated? What if your hair looks BETTER when it’s coated? The downside to this is you are likely to get flakiness and product build up. Is this really such a bad thing? What do you think?

Many women also feel pressured to buy when they are at the hairdresser, a haircut can be quite expensive already but it can be hard to say no.

So, who are you? What kind of hair do you have and do you prefer salon or supermarket brands? Is the cost the only factor holding you back from trying a salon exclusive product? Do you opt for DIY or is a hairdresser essential? What brands do you use on your hair and why?

Tell us what you think for your chance to win a $25 Coles Myer voucher. The winner will  be contacted by email so make sure your address is current. Competition closes 1st November 2011 Midnight AEST. Check back next Wednesday for a new weekly discussion.

19 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: Hair Products – Salon vs Supermarket

  1. I love going to the salon for the pampering, the hair wash, head massage but that is about it! my last experience having my hair coloured was that I was left with a stained head for days after, I don’t get that if I do it myself, also, it cost me nearly $100 to have a trim and colour….I can do it at home for a total cost of around $12!
    I think it’s important to have regular trims and definitely if you want a particular cut, but when it comes to products you can easily purchase them through a supermarket for a lot less and they work just as well.

  2. I have hair down to my butt.
    Im lucky now because my middle daughter is a hairdresser.
    But I have coloured my hair at home without issue. I think thats mainly because i wasnt dying it to have a total change of colour but more dying it just to go a shade lighter and brighter then my natural shade. I wasnt going a totally differant colour.
    I do think that going to the hairdressers for a conditioning treatment and a head massage once every 6 months or so is very much worth the cost.
    As far as shampoos and conditioners. My scalp is very sensitive and doesnt seem to like any one product for too long and it doesnt matter if its a salon or supermarket purchase.
    I think we all just find what suits us best and dont listen to anyone else…do as you wish….after all it is your hair.

  3. I have fizzy/wavy hair that doesn’t ever seem to look good but about 5 years ago it was dead straight. Oh how I miss that hair.
    I colour my hair at home and buy supermarket shampoos and conditioners but never the home brand or real cheapies. I do find that I like changing my shampoos and conditioners a bit too. I have found that it doesn’t matter whether it came from the salon or the supermarket some just don’t work and some do.
    I also can’t afford to have much more than a hair cut from the hairdressers so that also has an inpact on my decision.

  4. I get a cut at the hairdresser because I have lots of hair. But my hair is in great condition (except for the too rare trim). It’s long and straight and not styled so it doesn’t need regular trims.

    I don’t colour my hair often but when I do I do it at home. I’ve had it done in a salon and I did love it, don’t get me wrong, but that was before the house, the husband and the kids. Now it’s supermarket.

    Same goes for all hair products – supermarket is the way I go and all for the price difference.

    1. Having said that, now that I get to test products and the price isn’t an issue I do love the salon shampoos I have tried.

  5. I do supermarket dyes at home. Like Michelle, the kids and hubby and saving for a wedding (oh and being a tight ass) makes it too hard to justify the cost. I do get my very special, wonderful hairdresser to do my cut because my hair is short and I like to try to keep it funky. I have found over the years that the newer brands tend to be better. I have a heap of grey coming through and have since I was 21 so I’ve tried them all! At the moment I’m having a love affair with a mousse one. I do my hair black (so it’s brown after a few washes) and I find this one doesn’t leave any colour on my scalp for a week after!

  6. I really support the work that professional salons do. Anyone knows that once you find a stylist who ‘gets you and your hair’ you stick to them.

    Depending on your job & lifestyle, I would say salon but I think that if money and time don’t allow there are ways to save. Here are my preferences:

    Haircut: ALWAYS salon
    Colour: SHOULD always be done in a salon if you are going foils, colour splicing or something a little different. If you are just after a shade of brown, supermarket is ok.
    Hair Treatments: i think there are actually some great treatments out there that you can do at home however Keratin treatments should be left to a salon
    Hair Extensions: Unless they are clip-in SALON. Always. I’ll never forget the sight of someone who tried to do it herself and you could see the join.
    Dazzle Strandz tinsel/feathers/gems: SALON. The application will last longer, be cut to size & you’ll betaught how to style them
    Perms: IF you actually get one of these anymore, ALWAYS salon.

  7. My hair is straight/gently wavy and frizzy most of the times. I’ve been using products I can get in Priceline (they’re in supermarkets too). Garnier Fructis has great ranges of shampoos and conditioners I’ve been using for around 3 years now. I used the Oily Roots Dry Ends range and currently trying their new Nutri-Repair range. It contains avocado and olive oil and is really great to nourish your hair and repairs those dry/split ends!
    I also love the Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum, it works well and I usually apply it to half-dried hair in the middle of blow drying. The cost is around $11 as far as I remember.

    I recently purchased Schwarzkopf Extra Care’s Deep Nutrition Intensive Care Mask and loving it. This hair mask definitely reduces frizz and it works in only 1 minute! It is enriched with shea and cashmere and the brilliant liquid keratin. I use this 2-3 times a week after shampoo & conditioner and my hair is noticeably smoother and smells really good! It comes in a 250mL tub and costs about $9 and can be found in any Priceline and any supermarket.

    I also use TRESemme’s Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray. The price is also around $9 for a 300mL bottle. I use this product before blow drying and before styling my hair with a straightener/ curling iron to protect it and it gives a nice shine and smell too!

    I have been lucky that I recently won a salon exclusive brand hair care pack, Wella Professionals. I got their Enrich range shampoo, conditioner, hair mask and the Velvet Amplifier style primer but I didn’t get to try them yet. I’ve heard that the brand is really good though, especially since professionals in salons around the globe use it. Although the price for a bottle of shampoo is $24, around 3-4 times the price I usually pay for my shampoo, I think most of salon brands do work better than supermarket ones. I’m kind of the in-betweeners, I really care about what I put on my hair (also face, body and all) but since I’m a student I also need to consider my budget hehe

    It’s not the same for everybody of course, so get to know your hair and try what’s good for it, and when you find something that works really well, I reckon stick to it.. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s an expensive salon brand or something you can get for a quarter of the price in a supermarket, as long as your hair loves it. Invest in good hair mask/ treatments! Will be amazing for the long run


  8. I don’t know which is actually better, but I always choose Salon brands because I believe they have less chemicals and bad ingredients in them but I don’t know if that is actually true.

  9. I have my hair cut in Salon only & every 6 months a full head of foils than I colour with Revlon Colorsilk Ultra Light Blonde & it keeps my foiled look and a lovely light golden base so foils $120.00 twice a year & the Revlon $12.00 a month for touch ups.

    As for shampoo & conditioner my hair is addicted to Redkens Extreme Range & Nioxins Scalp Therapy system 3 , as my budget is tightI buy all these in 1000ml bottles so they last ages for masks I use Redken Extreme & Real Control Masks as well Goldwell Kerasilk Ultra Rich leave in silk fluid.

    I have tried a lot from the supermarket as in Pantene-Fructis-Schwarzkopf & none treat my hair as perfectly as the Professional salon brands , I wish they would….but eBay saves my hair!

  10. I have been to a hairdresser a few times in my life and did not get satisfaction (how complicated can cutting a fringe be? or they always cut off more length than I requested) so for that and (hugely) economic reasons I have had home cuts for free, which means trims straight across the ends (just like in my childhood!). I used to fantasize about getting red (I mean blood red, not russet) streaks in my hair but now I may react to the dyes so my secret wild side will have to find another means of expression.

    At salons, I found hairdressers do try to “up-sell” their products, however, I prefer to use ones with no parabens or sulphates, with as few man made chemicals as possible, so I buy at health food stores – and Priceline carry these brands as well. I swap between Avalon Biotin B-Complex – Thickening Shampoo (which is a lovely shampoo but I have not found a thickening effect) and Alchemy shampoos (which seem all very similar to me no matter which variety I use). These are more expensive than supermarket brands. I don’t regularly use a conditioner but when I have, I could really feel the difference it made to the texture of my hair (extremely soft and smooth!) so if expense was not an issue I would probably buy extra products, but from the same Organic brands, not salon ones.

  11. Annie ,I love Avalon organics Lavender shampoo & Alchemy’s Macadamia conditioner, yes salons try to sell you anything they sell & need to shift I never buy anything from a salon.

  12. I have never been someone who enjoyed going to a salon. I am far too impatient to spend more than 30mins sitting down for a haircut – I like to get in and get out asap. I colour my hair at home but I avoid the super cheap dyes (they may be the same as the more expensive, but I’m too scared to test them on my scalp). I love Tresemme Shampoo and Conditioner – being a salon originated brand they make me feel a little bit luxurious while still being affordable. I also love how they are available from supermarkets so I can buy them at the same as my groceries.

  13. My hair seems to have some sort of vendetta against me and decides to make each day rather eventful when it comes to taming it – my hair is quite thick and prone to feeling dry. It’s long which probably does nothing to help the dryness, but I too can’t have short hair – I spent my whole childhood with short hair and cringe whenever I see photos!

    I like to be pampered (and which lady doesn’t?) and also a tad glamorous. Going out to have my hair colored and cut professionally makes me feel lovely and feminine. Seeing as I pay for it – why not spend a little extra money? The way I see it – the nicer my hair the more confident I feel and that makes me a more pleasant person to be around…

    In terms of treatments – I use an extra virgin coconut oil mask in my hair every week – it helps to strengthen hair and leaves it beautifully soft. Plus it’s only around $15 for a jar – quite affordable!

  14. I am lucky in that I go to a hairdresser that works from her home. She cuts and thins out my hair the way I like, cost wise is fantastic but my only downside is when it comes to putting blonde foils in my hair she just does either blonde or reallllllllll yellowy blonde.
    After a few years now of seeing her though……I think I have TRAINED her now on what I like for me. 🙂
    With going to a hairdresser at her home, she only uses very ordinary shampoos/conditioners so when I come home I always have to wash my hair with my own products.
    My hair absolutely hates seasons, winter is the only time that I can actually manage my thick, dry, hair with certain products that have been bought at my usual supermarket or Priceline.
    Having used expensive Hair Salon products in the past, I am finding these days that there are other products out there that are cheaper to use and do the job but I am also using different brands eg…different brand of shampoo plus conditioner and treatment. There is no rule that you HAVE to use the same product on your hair to get great results.
    As to colouring my own hair, with the products that are on the market now, I would certainly give it a go as long as it was easy.

  15. I love to have glossy hair but I can,t always afford the expensive shampoo,s so I mostly buy the better quality ones from the supermarket ,I home colour my hair also , I have quite frizzy hair so it’s not always easy to manage but it could be worse I guess

  16. I never go to the hairdressers anymore, my oldest daughter trims my hair at no cost! I had my hair permed at a local hair dressers for my wedding day…..it ended up a real big mess with my hair breaking off…..from the back it looked like someone had ripped hair out into a messy layered job. I cried with that disastrous result and cannot trust having a perm done at any hairdressers again. I love Herbal Essences hair care range, my hair is long and fine but they make it look good. I do home dyes myself as its cheap and never bleach.

  17. I have always bought salon products until recently. I now cannot justify spending $30-40 on hair straightening, heat damage products when I have found similar products at supermarkets which are doing a great job. They are certainly not as good as the salon products, but at 1/3 of the price the result is still pleasing.

    I will only be going to hairdressers now for a cut, and will get my sister to colour my hair with a product from the supermarket. I cannot afford to pay $180 every 6-7 weeks to have my hair cut and coloured. My sister does a great job and my husband is happy with the result and also the bank balance!!

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