Beth is bemused: Why is it when I go to the salon and have my hair washed, cut & blow-dried, my hair feels so smooth & fantastic? If I purchase the same shampoo, conditioner or other salon products and use them at home — my hair is clean, but it never feels as great as that first time. Is it the fact that the hair has been cut, styled and dried by someone else? Do the shampoo people have some secret ingredient that we never see or feel them put in our hair? Just wondering.
Hair’s the Right Brain’s response:
Ah, the mystery of the salon shampoo. Rest assured, there is no “secret” ingredient. The reasons salon products don’t work quite the same at home are a bit more mundane.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Some salon brands would suggest an explanation is because you bought inferior product at a store. They’ll claim if you didn’t buy at an “officially licensed” salon you may have counterfeit, diverted product. While this is possible, it’s more likely nonsense as this post on salon product diversion explains.
Assuming you’ve bought the same products used on your hair at the salon, here are 5 plausible reasons why they don’t work the same.
#1 – Stylists are better stylers than you
As suggested in the question, the way your hair looks and feels is mostly dependent on how it’s cut, dried and styled. Your stylist has gone to school, learned & practiced specialized techniques, and does hundreds of heads a month. Naturally, they are going to be able to do things with your hair that you can’t do.
#2 – Stylists have to make hair look good
In addition to being better than you, they’ve also got more incentive to make your hair look good. Giving you a bad look is bad for business. So, they have to develop more patience. When you style your hair and a section doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to, you get frustrated. Eventually, you might give up and throw your hair in a pony-tail. Stylists don’t have this luxury.
#3 – More thorough application of product
When you apply your salon product, you put it in your hand and smear it through your hair. It’s easy to imagine that you miss significant sections just because you can’t see where you’re putting it. Stylists have a better angle and can apply the product more thoroughly. Their position also allows them to shape your hair in ways that you can’t.
#4 – Unknown product combination
Another possibility is that the stylist used a product on your hair that you either didn’t buy or they didn’t tell you about. Maybe they spritzed a leave-in conditioner and spread it through your hair without telling you. Unless you watch and ask them about everything they are using, you may not be getting all the same products.
#5 – You spent money
Finally, no matter what your hair looks like, you’ll be more inclined to believe it looks and feels better when you pay someone to get it done. That’s just human nature. No one wants to feel foolish or ripped-off. You want to believe. It’s the same phenomena that makes people believe a $30 salon shampoo is better than a $1 store bought shampoo. This would be true even if the products were EXACTLY the same in all other ways as this study about pricey products demonstrates.
Beauty Brains bottom line
There are a number of reasons your salon products don’t seem to work as well at home. One sure way to get them to work better is to get yourself a roommate who is also a stylist. It’s worked well for Sarah.
Why do you think your salon products don’t work as well for you? Leave a comment below and let the rest of the Beauty Brains community know.