The Costly Mistakes You Make with Your Choice of Shampoo

By Mary Hunt

July 10, 2019 5 min read

Come on ... 'fess up. You feel guilty using 99-cent shampoo because it's really bad for your hair. And anybody knows the $24 salon variety is so much better, especially for chemically treated hair, right? Wrong!

I've got the facts to prove it and the truth to counteract lots of myths out there — plus some great tips to get you on the right path.

FACTS

PRICE

Fact: When it comes to selecting the best shampoo, the price has nothing to do with it. Some of the best are super cheap.

MOSTLY H2O

Fact: All shampoos are 80 to 90 percent water. The rest is detergent with a few drops of fragrance, additives and preservatives. By the way, "agua" and "eau" mean "water" in Spanish and French, respectively.

DETERGENT

Fact: There are basically two kinds of detergent found in shampoo: anionic (harsh) and cationic (gentle).

HYPE

Fact: The only part of the shampoo bottle that's regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the list of ingredients. Manufacturers can make any claim they like on the unregulated portions of the label. Sometimes the hype has some merit. Often it has none. Manufacturers can make just about any claim they can think up!

MYTHS

BUILDUP

Myth: Shampoo builds up on hair, so you need to change brands occasionally to counteract.

Shampoo cannot build up on hair. However, conditioners, chemical processes and other products do build up, so you may need to use a stronger type of shampoo from time to time. Or do this once a month: Mix a little baking soda with your shampoo in the palm of your hand. Shampoo as usual, and rinse well. There you go. No need for an expensive "rid" product to wash buildup away.

SALON BRANDS

Myth: Salon-brand shampoos outperform inexpensive store brands.

Not true. Salon brands may have more fragrance, foam more or have more ingredients, but all of it goes right down the drain with the detergent.

REPAIR AND NOURISH

Myth: High-quality shampoo can repair and nourish damaged hair.

Hair is dead and cannot be repaired. Any hair product can only provide temporary benefits for the look and feel of hair.

NO TEARS

Myth: Baby shampoo (no-tears shampoo) is great for adults because it is so gentle.

The detergent in baby shampoo is way too gentle and not designed for cleaning adult hair, especially when a lot of styling products have been used.

HERE'S THE SECRET

The secret to shampoo intelligence is to know your detergents. Pay little, if any, attention to anything on that bottle or packaging except for the list of ingredients. Water (or some fancy name for good old H2O) will always be the first ingredient. Next comes the detergent. The following are examples you might find:

—Ammonium lauryl sulfate — very harsh

—Ammonium laureth sulfate — harsh

—Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) — still harsh

—Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) — mild, great choice

—TEA lauryl sulfate — gentle, good choice

—TEA laureth sulfate — gentle, also a good choice.

GOOD CHOICES

Many in the Herbal Essences and Suave lineup — found in most supermarkets and drug stores and online — contain the gentle option sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). But don't assume. Read the labels.

With the money you save on the shampoo, buy a quality conditioner. Unlike shampoo that washes down the drain, the quality of conditioner does make a difference!

BOTTOM LINE

When purchasing shampoo, consider just two things: price and type of detergent.

Interestingly, the rinse-and-repeat instruction you will read on every shampoo bottle goes back to a marketing campaign one manufacturer created to increase sales. It does that all right, and you can make your shampoo last twice as long if you skip "repeat."

Rinse thoroughly. If your hair turns out dull and lackluster, the problem may be inadequate rinsing. Tip: Pour 1/2 cup white vinegar through your hair during the rinse process. This will remove all traces of the shampoo and leave your hair sleek and shiny.

If you clip shampoo coupons and match them with shampoo sales in your grocery store, you may never pay more than a dollar or two for shampoo again!

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: jackmac34 at Pixabay

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