For years, several people have me asked the infamous “Are professional shampoos & conditioners really worth the cost?”
To be truthful, I didn’t know that answer. The last 20 years I’ve only used hair care products that could be purchased in salons. And a “yes” or “no” response isn’t bing honest if I haven’t personally tried anything else. And to be even more honest, I admit having taken for granted being able to purchase these products at cost. The time had come to do a real trial, and for nearly a year I’ve only used shampoos & conditioners, all under $10 at home to deliver that honest answer.
Before we get into the results, every hair type reacts differently to various product formulas. For example, curly & course hair will not be happy with a volumizing shampoo as someone with fine hair. And of course, vice versa, someone with fine hair could be devastated using an oil based smoothing shampoo.
Since my hair is basically middle of the road (medium thickness, fairly wavy, normal to oily roots, dryer ends, every few months color glossing + a few highlights to break it up every so often), I chose to use a variety of products that would attempt to reach a wide range of hair types for what they look for in a shampoo & conditioner.
Here we go…
OGX Organix Argan Oil of Morocco
Shampoo: Rich lather, felt clean even with 1 shampoo. Took a little while to rinse but hair had a nice slip of moisture.
Conditioner: A little thinner than I imagined. Distributed easily, but felt I needed to use a lot because of it’s viscosity. Easy to rinse, and hair felt nice & hydrated.
Fragrance: A creamy combo of vanilla, musk, and woodsy. Stays in the hair quite well, even 2 days in.
Experience: Pleasantly surprised for my first time in ages trying a non in-salon product.
Who it’d be great for: Medium to not overly thick hair that is course or needs some suppleness to the hair. And anyone who likes fragrance to stay in the hair.
Dove Oxygen Moisture
Shampoo: Very thick in consistency, a little challenge to distribute evenly. Definitely cleaned the hair to a point of squeaky. Average on lather. Hair felt clarified while rinsing. Great for a ‘reset’ on hair that’s feeling blah with out stripping the moisture out.
Conditioner: The rehydration after the shampoo! Light weight cream that distributed easily. Hair felt soft, slightly waxy, but lightweight.
Fragrance: Clean, fresh, just like you’d imagine for Dove.
Experience: Real OK. Not the best for my hair type.
Who it’d be great for: Fine hair that gets limp easy. Also great if hair is feeling “used to” another shampoo and needs a but of purifying to lighten the feel of hair.
Pantene Pro-V Repair and Protect
Shampoo: Rich lather, cleans nicely. Slightly waxy rinsing but not sticky or rough.
Conditioner: Distributes easily and conditions immediately. Took a while to rinse but hair felt soft but not overly conditioned or heavy.
Fragrance: Fresh with light floral notes.
Experience: Again, pleasantly surprised how nice. Hair smelled nice for a couple days.
Who it’d be great for: Anyone really, except for very thick & course hair.
L’Oreal Ever Strong
Shampoo: Decent lather for sulfate free. Definitely needs 2 shampoos to feel clean (if you don’t wash your hair everyday). Rinses quickly and has a fresh feel on the scalp.
Conditioner: Lightweight. Found I had to use quite a bit. Rinses quickly leaving the hair feeling soft but not heavy. Scalp feels very invigorated by the rosemary mint.
Fragrance: Pleasant & herbal. Rosemary & mint are at the front but not overpowering at all.
Experience: Closest to a spa experience. The aroma therapy fragrance is mainly what made me like this. Hair felt light weight & stayed full but not dry.
Who it’d be great for: Anyone with fine to medium/thick hair. Great for the senses!
L’Oreal Extraordinary Clay
Shampoo: Thick & heavy. Had to shampoo twice to feel clean. Didn’t lather quickly and hair felt raw while rinsing.
Conditioner: Chalky but not thick. Hair didn’t feel all that soft rinsing.
Fragrance: Just OK… Nothing that stands out.
Experience: Not good. Hair looked dull, yet felt oily even in 2 days. In fact, I couldn’t even finish the regimen past 1/3 of the way through the bottles.
Who it’d be great for: Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone I would recommend it for. I was truly bummed because I was looking forward to using this one. Kerastase’s Cristaliste technology (a L’Oreal brand) purifies the roots and hydrates the ends, and I was hoping the technology carried over into the consumer division. Not so much…
Now, to answer the question… They’re just different. It’s a different experience. Some are excellent, some may not be the best for your hair. Just like in salon products, it’s about trying a variety, which fragrance you like in your hair, what is in your budget, and most importantly, how much you love your hair afterwards.