Salon Professional Product VS Shop Products – the Real Truth… by Candice Donadel

I have been in this industry for 21 years, SIX of them working out in the trade as an Educator for L’Oreal, Redken and Pureology, and NINE of them owning my own hair salon – MIRRORS.  I also do crazy things to my hair, and at the moment I am Platinum Blonde, so I speak from my experiences with my own hair, and also because we have tried and tested a lot of shop products against professional products in my career.

There are so many new Shop products out there. I cannot speak for all of them, I am just sharing what I know from my background.  


There is a misconception that Professional Products are so much more expensive than our Shop products out there. This may be true when you look at the price tag – BUT – if used correctly, a Salon product can last up to 5 months as it is super concentrated. A Shop product is bought on a monthly basis, so the costs actually work out the same!



  • Your pH scale runs from pH0 – pH14 with pH7 serving as neutral indicating a balance.
  • A measure below pH7 indicates Acid. A measure above pH7 – pH14 indicates Alkaline.
  • Normal healthy hair is between pH4.5 – pH5.5. It is considered Acidic.
  • When hair is in it’s correct pH the cuticle is compact and closed, protecting the internal structure and giving the appearance of shiny smooth overall healthy hair.
  • Hair that is a healthy pH level has natural bounce, shine, detangles easily and has radiant condition.
  • If the hair is in an Alkaline state above pH7, the cuticle is raised and may even be torn or singed. The hair fibre itself is also swollen.
  • This gives the hair a very dull, dry appearance. This hair is very difficult to comb when wet.
  • The hair will not accept colour evenly, unless a pre treatment is done.

ph scale

  • A Relaxer normally sits at pH12-pH14.
  • Permanent Straightener or Curls sit at pH11-pH13.
  • A Permanent Colour sits at about pH9 and a Semi Colour sits at about pH6.
  • A good In-Salon treatment will be a pH3. This helps to lock in hair colour.


  • All professional products have an Acidic pH.
  • A shampoo which is supposed to open our cuticle scales should be between pH5-pH6.
  • A conditioner should be between pH3.5-pH4.5 as it’s meant to close and seal our cuticles which leaves our hair shiny and smooth.


  • Now shop products are generally a high pH, or a lot of them will say “Ph Balanced”.
  • That sounds like it could be good for the hair but we now know that “balanced” is a pH7, when we need a pH4.5-pH5.5 for our hair to be healthy.
  • Unfortunately, a lot of the so-called “colour safe” shampoos are way above 5.5.



  • Sulfates are derived from salt.
  • They are basically detergent surfactants.
  • They penetrate and break down dirt and create foam.
  • In the case of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (main ingredient in Shampoo) it has a small molecular weight that will allow it to penetrate through the skin even into the blood stream and therefore will be carried and enter into every organ in the body, heart, brain, liver, eyes etc.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sufate has aggressive properties due to many unstable (unpaired) electrons.


  • Your Professional Products are very low in Sulfates, so your first shampoo will hardly foam.
  • The more foam a product has, the more Sulfates there are.
  • A lot of Professional products now have sulfate free Shampoos.
  • The foaming agents have now been created by using natural ingredients like corn, coconut and sugar.


  • High amount of Sulfates and that is why they foam so much and give the feeling of squeaky clean hair.
  • It often feels like your whole head of hair is stuck together until you reach for that conditioner
  • Sulfates are also responsible for stripping colour out of the hair as well as make the hair dry and dull.
  • They can also make the scalp very dry and flaky, which many people then mistake for dandruff.



  • Have many years of research behind them.
  • They are extremely concentrated and if used correctly, can last a long time.
  • The molecules are much smaller and penetrate into the hair shaft. The ingredients used are of the highest quality and go through many scientific processes in order to care for the hair.
  • You only need to use a pearl or up to a marble size amount of shampoo for your hair.
  • It is important to emulsify the shampoo in your wet hands first and to get a nice lather going.
  • Then you apply it to different areas of the head with your hands, and gently rub your fingers through hair and scalp.
  • First shampoo will never foam, and its main function is to get rid of the dirt. The dirtier your hair, the less it will lather
  • Second shampoo will foam a bit more, but never like a bubble bath on your head! It is important to do that second shampoo, as then the product will do what it is supposed to do. Rinse well. The amazing thing about professional product, is that it makes your hair feel soft and conditioned already, and you never have the feeling that it is all stuck together before you put the conditioner on.
  • Thirdly, we always recommend to towel dry the hair by squeezing the moisture out. NEVER rub your hair, as this causes split ends.
  • Apply Conditoner- no more than a marble size amount, and if hair is really long, maybe 2 to 3 marbles… ALWAYS work it in on your midlengths and ends first and then use a comb, Tangle Teazer or Tangle Angel, and comb your hair from the ends up to the roots.
  • NEVER comb from the roots down, as hair is more sensitized when wet, and can stretch up to 1.5 time more than it should, and if your are blonde, you could even break your hair
  • Rinse, towel dry by squeezing and no rubbing


  • Nowhere nearly as concentrated.
  • Their Molecular weight is much bigger, which means that the product can only work on the surface of the hair.
  • They are able to give the hair a cosmetic feeling but never really feed the hair what it needs, therefore can never really “fix” a problem

“I have expensive taste, and being a blonde is one of them”…   

Being blonde myself, like I said before, I have tried EVERYTHING out there. Blonde hair needs more TLC at home, and when you come to MIRRORS hair lab Beauty & Blowdry Bar, we tailor make Colour or Blonde packages, so that you never leave without having a treatment, and you CAN feel the difference! Our blonde clients all have really healthy hair, and it actually grows, because they know how to take care of the hair with us 😉

Try it for yourself but make sure that you are getting the right product for your hair type for best results. We offer FREE Consultations where we can analyse your hair and prescribe what we think is best!




Love Candz          (Founder of MIRRORS hair lab Beauty & Blowdry Bar)

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