The Naked Truth On Shampoo From a Marketing and Stylist Perspective
For many of us, switching up our shampoo is a fun and easy way to spice up our daily routine. New suds can transport us from a mundane morning shower to an exciting sensory journey, and let's be honest, it gives us something new to occupy ourselves with as we put on our detective hats and see if our experiment actually "worked".
And who could blame us? We are bombarded with promises of thicker, fuller, shinier, longer, faster-growing, bouncier hair without frizz, flakes, flyaways, split ends, and all accompanied by a ring light/fan combo that follows our every move to achieve those glassy, flowy locks, just like in the ad. Ok, I got a little carried away with that last part, but you catch my drift. The big beauty industry is looking to make money, and to do that, they put out a lot of information that exploits our insecurities and leads us to their solutions (i.e. products).
I get it. I’ve been there. Shampoos are confusing, and don’t even get me started on the other things! We all want to spend our money on quality items that are priced fairly and leave us better off than before we used them. I’ll take off my stylist hat for a minute and tell you as a person, I've traveled that new product path and spent far too much money searching for answers, just like many of you. I grew up dealing with thick, coarse hair that was never smooth and an itchy, flaky, irritated scalp that was never tamed. I would flat iron the hell out of my already-straight hair and shampoo obsessively, unknowingly exacerbating the problems I was trying to fix.
While I studied marketing, I was a part of the camp that thought drugstore products were just as good as the pros (now I've learned there are good and bad actors on both ends). It wasn't until beauty school and experimenting with professional products that I realized shampoo ingredients and their concentration do matter. What I thought was dry skin and dandruff my whole life was actually reactions to product residue and inflammation caused by fillers and irritants in my shampoo.
Clogged follicles, shedding, and residue on skin and hair
I came to learn that choosing the right (or wrong) shampoo can have more serious consequences than just dull hair (i.e. hair loss by clogged follicles /bacterial or fungal infection/pain/embarrassment). We have been trained to look for solutions from our shampoo other than it's main job: to clean. The more it claims to do, the more unnecessary, potentially clogging and irritating ingredients added. When you think about it, shampoo is one of the only things we apply directly to our scalps, the barriers to our oh-so-precious hair follicles and blood supply. What we put on our scalp directly affects what comes (or doesn't come) out of it. It's not as complicated as they made it out to be.
Happy scalp = Happy Hair/Body/YOU.
This all started my obsession for acquiring the naked truth behind and around shampoo and its relation to hair and scalp health as a whole.
As a stylist, I always have clients asking about shampoo: how often to shampoo, are sulfates really bad, which shampoo should I be using, are drugstore brands ok, do certain shampoos really make your hair fall out, etc...and to be honest, you'll get many different answers depending on which stylist you ask. To be fair, the sea of contradictory information surrounding stylists is not totally their fault. Hairstylists are people too, subject to the same marketing messages as our clients, and although we studied all things hair, a lot of information we receive is through education sponsored by the product manufacturers who are looking to sell their products. Stylists are like their little indoctrinated army who they train to go out and fight for their particular cause.
These causes are many. Some contradict, some overlap, and some are nothing more than passing trends. When shopping for hair products, how many times do you encounter:
"clean" -- "natural" -- "organic" -- "silicone-free" -- "sulfate-free" -- "gluten-free" -- "cruelty-free" -- "vegan" -- "professional" OR "repairing/restoring/strengthening" -- "hydrating/moisturizing/conditioning" -- "plumping/lifting/volumizing" -- "smoothing/anti-frizz/glossing"
Although there's nothing wrong with these claims (who in their right mind wants to support animal cruelty?!)...these are all buzzwords to get you to buy a product, depending on your values, needs, and preferences. Sometimes we don't even know how being "free" of something even benefits our hair, but if it is followed by "-free", it must be bad, right?
However, after all of my research, professional AND personal experience, I have learned that there are pros and cons to each cause. For example, "natural" ingredients can cause the same problems (or even worse) than the synthetic ingredients they replace, and "professional" products, although more concentrated, can be more concentrated with the wrong ingredients. No wonder the world of haircare is so confusing!
Since leaving the corporate salon world, I was able to do some soul searching and choose products that aligned with what I felt was best for the health and wellbeing of those I serve. For my own cause, I've chosen to defend and uphold no-nonsense, non-irritating products that truly deliver, do-no-harm, and contain only the best and necessary ingredients. As a person who suffers from sensitive skin and scalp, ingredients are super important to me, and as a person who works hard for her money, how these ingredients deliver value are of equal importance. When researching what to offer, I made sure that the products I chose had a functional and monetary value that matched, or in other words, gave the the best bang for their buck. I read past the marketing claims and read up on the science. I’ve done the work, I’ve tested the products, and if I offer them, it’s because I believe in them and want to share the experience of a healthy hair and scalp with the world, one client at a time. 😀
P.S. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs. That's what makes life so interesting!! I strongly encourage you to do your own experimentation and research. A good source that aligns with my values of "no-nonsense, non-irritating products that truly deliver and do-no-harm" is the blog by ColorWow. Whether or not you have hair color is beside the point. Their logical approach to hair care benefits all hair types and textures and is something I can get behind.