Is there really a difference between the salon version and retail version of hair products other than price?
Professional Products Sold In Salons Versus Retail – Not Drugstore Versions
To clarify, I am not talking about the difference between professional salon quality brands and drugstore only brands. That is a whole other ballgame.
I’m talking about when professional salon quality Brand A similar to Paul Mitchell, Phyto, Goldwell or similar is sold both at the salon and at a reputable retail outlet such as Sephora, Ulta or similar.
I am not talking about the difference between a professional brand such as, for example, Paul Mitchell and a drug store brand like Pantene or similar.
Drinking The Hair Industry Kool-Aid
To be honest, I’ve struggled with this question since the mid-1990s when I opened the first consumer hair and beauty site on the Internet.
Hair Care Styling Mousse – Courtesy Of Hairboutique – All Rights Reserved
This question haunted me even more when I eventually sold professional salon quality versions of hair care products (with express permission for the manufacturers) in my e-store.
Initially I drank the Kool-Aid and believed there was a major difference between the salon version and the retail version.
Deconstructing Hair Product Ingredients
Eventually, to truly become a content matter expert, I attended two different cosmetology colleges and took constant hair related classes.
Cosmetology college and many of the hair related classes opened my eyes to a wide range of hair product ingredients.
When I started writing reviews of a dizzying array of hair care manufacturer’s lines I started to change my mind based upon my own experiences with various products.
I seriously doubted that there was any difference at all in a professional hair care line’s ingredients and qualities regardless of where they were sold.
Experiences With French Hair Care Lines
In the late 1990s I went to New York for a major hair show and discovered two incredible French hair care manufacturers who used the highest quality of ingredients in their product lines.
I started using the various products on my own hair.
Initially I didn’t expect a lot, but was shocked how much of a noticeable difference they actually made in the overall health and beauty of my hair.
After using the products consistently for many months I continued to be immensely impressed with the exceptional quality of all the products.
I still use those same two French hair care lines on my hair 25+ years later and they still do amazing things for my hair.
No Difference Between Salon And Retail
Although the French hair care lines were initially sold only in salons, as the retail world of hair expanded, including e-stores on the Internet, these two well-known French brands distributed their products in all channels.
Luckily my now-closed e-store was one of the first US branches to sell the French hair care lines on the Web.
I can tell you absolutely without question that there was no difference between the salon and retail products.
The products I wold through my retail based e-store did not differ in any way, shape or form from what was sold in professional hair salons.
Not only was the packaging exactly the same, any promotional deals or sales were identical.
Not All Hair Care Brands Are Created The Same
One of the very serious issues which started to occur in the early 2000s was the rise of counterfeit hair and beauty products.
The problem continues to be a critical issues as we begin 2019.
Counterfeiting Of Hair Care Products Is An Ongoing Problem
When counterfeiting in an issue, the hair care products you buy from a salon may, in some cases, not be the same as what you buy in some retail outlets.
In this scenario, the hair care manufacturer is not too blame and is usually desperately trying to stop any counterfeiting of their products.
Counterfeited hair products may include an array of cheap ingredients substituted to mimic the original authentic brands yet maximize the profits.
In raids of suspected counterfeited hair and beauty products, it’s been discovered that some of the fake products contained substances such as cyanide, mercury, and rat droppings.
Health Risks Of Counterfeited Hair And Beauty Products
Not only is the quality of the ingredients compromised, the reputation of the manufacturer is questioned.
Sometimes it’s difficult for consumers to tell if a product is actually a fake or the real deal.
Counterfeit goods account for almost 10% of worldwide trade, according to the World Customs Organization.
If the product is substandard the manufacturer or the distributor may be blamed even though they are unaware of their products have been knocked off.
Not All Manufacturers Are The Same
It’s important to note that not all hair care manufacturers follow the same business philosophies.
While it has been my experience that most reputable professional hair care brands sell the same exact products to their salons as well as into retail outlets, there are always exceptions to every rule.
There are also issues with counterfeited products and how reputable the salons or the retails outlets are.
When All Factors Are Equal
All things being equal, a high quality professional hair care line sold in salons which are also sold in reputable retail locations are the exact same products.
There is no difference.
Not everyone will agree with me, but that is my opinion based on 25+ years working on both sides of the hair care aisles.
Yes, there are always exceptions to every rule, but if I can’t buy my favorite professional quality products from my stylist or her salon, I will buy them from a highly reputable retail distributor.
Salons Want Customers To Buy Products From Them
If anyone tells you otherwise they may be a professional salon owner, manager or employee who sells products and wants to keep the sales in the salons.
I understand that mentality, but it’s important that hair consumers are aware of their options to purchase products either at the salon or at the large retail chains.
Do Your Homework And Make Your Own Professional Hair Care Buying Decisions
Personally I support my stylist and her business by buying products from her directly, even if I pay more.
It also gives me more peace of mind that I am not dealing with counterfeit products.
Not everyone feels that way and I totally respect their right to find the very best professional quality hair products for the very best price.
DISCLAIMER: I neither sell nor promote any companies, their products, nor do I have any online shopping outlet of my own to promote. What I write is based up my own experience and belief in the techniques I share.