Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Wash and Go

Ok, so this may seem a bit of an odd post, but it’s amazing the amount of people I speak to who wash and condition their hair but don’t really know why, or who don’t realise how bad some shampoos and conditioners can be.

I have been told by so many hairdressers that an easy way for them to strip colour off a client’s hair is by piling on Head and Shoulders shampoo and leaving it for a few minutes! The thought of what it actually does to your hair and scalp was enough to put me off for life.

Until I worked in the beauty industry where I am lucky enough to get sent things to try rather than buying them, I would use shampoos bought from my local supermarket and couldn’t really work out why you’d spend the money on salon only ones. It is only since using these regularly that I can see a huge difference in the condition of my hair and they last so much longer. If you compare a supermarket bought shampoo to a salon only one, you can see the quality difference instantly: the consistency in the professional product is much thicker as there is less water in it, meaning you don’t need to use as much, get a better result and it lasts longer. I realise there can be a big difference in price compared to a £1.99 bottle you can buy, but it really does last for months, rather than weeks. The cheaper end of the professional products will actually only be about £5 difference and I find my shampoos and conditioners easily last me at least 3 months, washing my hair every other day.

Another huge difference is the amount of silicone in the supermarket brands; it is a cheap product and provides a temporary smoothness and shine by completely coating the hair. You’ll find that the more you use of this, the build up gets worse and will eventually stop you actually getting any nutrients into the hair shaft itself. I used to be prone to frizzy hair and had to rely on hair serums to smooth it even after straightening. Since using professional products I can straighten my hair and leave it without any styling product in, meaning my hair also stays cleaner for longer, and if I don’t straighten it, the condition of my hair has improved so much that it has enhanced my natural wave making it look styled rather than looking like I haven’t even run a brush through it!
I realise I’m sounding like some kind of advertisement for professional products but honestly, it makes such a huge difference, please just try it once and then if it really makes no difference to your hair or your life, then go back to what you were using before!

So, the correct way to do this is shampoo, treatment, condition. Shampooing opens up the hair cuticle to clean it completely and keeps it ready for conditioning which closes the cuticle. By using the treatment after conditioning you won’t get as good a result as the cuticle is closed so can’t penetrate the hair shaft effectively. But not conditioning at all leaves the hair cuticle open so it doesn’t lie flat and smooth and is more prone to damage. The reason you get a head massage at the salon when they are washing your hair is partly for the customer experience, but mainly because it stimulates the blood flow in the scalp ensuring vital nutrients can get to the hair root so if you can give yourself a bit of a massage while washing your hair then it is actually worth it. Also, the cold water thing is not a myth; by rinsing your hair in cold water after washing and conditioning (if you can handle it) then it really will make your hair shinier as the cold seals the cuticle.
After that little lesson here are my favourite professional products to use. They can differ from person to person as to how effective they are so if you really like how your hair feels after you’ve been to the hairdressers then the products are obviously working for you, you may be able to buy a sample size to try and take home with you if you’d prefer to do that to start with. Lots of salons have a high end product line as well as a reasonably priced one, so if you don’t want to spend too much then ask what their cheapest one is, I promise it will still be better than your supermarket brand! It’s important to chat to your stylist about what they think you need as you may not know what your hair type actually is. Most ranges are safe for coloured hair and you should always use products to protect your colour if you want it to last. Salon only lines also have products for problem hair such as oily scalp, dandruff etc so there really is no excuse not to go professional! It’s worth trying to find two different ranges that work for you and alternate them so your hair doesn’t become immune. Once you finish one set of products then buy a different one and do it in that way, it’s also quite nice to try something new anyway, especially as these last for so long.

I love Alterna's range of products (from £20 RRP) and I personally use the hemp repair line as even from the first wash my hair felt softer and in better condition and they have shampoos and conditioners for all hair types and problems as well as styling products which are great. Alterna is also the creator of the Ten range (from £48 RRP) which is a shampoo, conditioner, masque and hairspray made with ten of the world’s most expensive ingredients, extremely pricey but the results make it worth it!

Another range that leaves my hair feeling so good is Goldwell Dualsenses (from £7.50 RRP). Again, they have a complete range of products for all hair types and the 60 second treatment is one of the best I’ve tried. The line up consists of a shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner and a treatment.

Bumble and Bumble’s Crème De Coco range (from £16.50 RRP) contains a shampoo, treatment and conditioner and smell gorgeous, as well as leaving the hair in great condition with beautiful shine.

There are so many more great products out there, I’ve written enough already, and as I mentioned earlier, they all work differently on each individual so ask your hairdresser next time for advice.


  1. such great info, as I am a supermarket buyer. But, NO LONGER!

  2. My old roommate used that Bumble and Bumble creme de coco, I miss it! I used to use it all the time :) I may have to invest in some of my own.

    Interesting about the silicone, I never knew that.

  3. Interesting blog, thanks for the education!! :D

  4. Totally agree, great post. I use Aveda, they have some good products! xx

  5. hey thanks for being my new follower :)

  6. Hooray - glad I've managed to convince some people, it's usually much harder! Aveda are fab as well actually, am going to do a natural products round up soon and they'll be featured. xxx

  7. i am a HUGE bumble and bumble fan.. love it!

  8. Such a great post and wonderful advice! How do you feel about dry shampoos. My hair is very thick and I try to manage it with shine serums and flat irons. Recently I have been using organic shampoos and conditioners and am enjoying the results without the salon price tag. Love your blog. Come stop by when you have a chance sweetie...

  9. You're right- I'm one of those people that just uses shampoo and conditioner but I never really knew much about what actually happens. I love all the pointers!

  10. thanks for all the great info! <3

  11. This is very interesting - I will have to revisit my shampoo routine.

    I love your blog. Just joined. Come and check out mine if you get a chance.


  12. i just found your blog today and am so happy i did! i'm already learning a lot of new information from you! i completely agree that using professional hair care products vs. supermarket products makes a big difference initially and in the long run.

    do you use ones that are sulfate free? i want to try a shampoo and conditioner that are...any recommendations?

  13. Hi Miss Red Lips, thanks so much for your lovely comment and I'm glad you're learning something!

    I absolutely adore Alterna (as mentioned in this post) and that is sulphate free. Davines are also lovely shampoos which are completely natural, but watch this space for a round up of natural products!

    Thanks again, and if you have any other questions, just ask! xxx