Salon brands vs. Drugstore brands: Are you really getting more bang for your buck?

Last summer, after receiving a hair cut at one of San Francisco's high end salons, I reluctantly purchased a $30 Kerastase hair masque for my dry, brittle, broken ends. After using this masque every week, I did notice that it softened my hair, but it really wasn't worth the high price. I noticed that Kerastase was, in fact, a L'Oreal product, so I headed to the nearest Walgreens to find a L'Oreal conditioner that was comparable. Sure enough I found that L'Oreal's drugstore brand called Smooth Intense had a masque for $4.99 with the same ingredients!

Kerastase also makes a hair masque for dry, brittle hair and protects color that retails for around $75. One of the first few ingredients in this product is Isopropyl Alcohol, which will strip the color from your hair as well as moisture. Instead, try Neutrogena's Triple Moisture Deep Recovery for $6.99. It contains more moisturizing ingredients such as Olive Fruit Oil and Sweet Almond Oil as well as natural sunscreens of Titanium Dioxide and Iron Oxide which is a nice protectant for the scalp and hair coloring.

It's not always true that just because you purchase from a high end salon, that you're going to get high end products. I've done some homework and found that much of the hair, face and body care contain the same ingredients as found in a drugstore.

Take Jan Marini for instance. I was told this was a medical grade skin line. I used it, read all of the ingredients and was surprised to see that for a medical grade brand, it sure contained all kinds of crap in it. I also noticed that these products contain fragrance, which is very irritating and toxic to the skin.
The SkinZyme mask was one of my favorite products to use. It contained green papaya for a stimulating exfoliation. At the time, I paid $26 retail for this mask.

Amazingly enough, I found a drugstore brand that is very comparable to SkinZyme and with healthier ingredients! For $12.59 on, Alba Organics offers up their Hawaiian Facial Papaya Enzyme Mask without artificial fragrance and harmful preservatives.

Dermalogica's best seller, Special Cleansing Gel isn't as special as you think it might be. It's basically a container full of preservatives and harsh detergents with a few botanicals thrown in. You may as well purchase Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash for the mere price of $4.99 if you want to strip your skin for less! The ingredients are almost the same except for this cleanser has fragrance added to it.

Pureology is another high end product line for hair. I was sold Shine max, an anti frizz serum for $17 when I could have bought Zero Frizz Extra Strength Hair serum for $6.99.

I've asked skin care represenatives of these hair and skin care companies what makes their products stand out and above these drugstore brands. Some say that they have the purest ingredients. Others say it's their technology. Some wouldn't even return my calls when I questioned the ingredients and drugstore products that were equal to their so called high end line.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great products sold in salons, but it's because those salons/spas have done their homework and really understand ingredients.

If you are ever unsure, write the product down and check online resources that list ingredients. Then check out for comparable brands. You'll be surprised just as I was and maybe save some money!


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