We hear from facialists and dermatologists somewhat regularly (every single day, if you’re me), but it’s not often that we get to tap the brains of the actual people in the lab formulating the beauty products that we’re using. Recently, when I got that beyond-exciting opportunity (I’m a beauty geek, okay?), I had to ask: Out of all the personal care products out there on the shelves, which of them do we have expert-backed permission to buy on the cheap?
Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist and founder of Chemist’s Corner, says to save your money on shampoo. “Skip expensive shampoos,” he tells me. “If you are going to use a post-shampoo conditioner, then the shampoo you use doesn’t matter much.”
This is news to me, especially as someone who gets googly-eyed browsing hair products. It’s really easy to want to get those fancy-looking shampoos that promise to thicken and detox and give you good hair days on repeat, but product formulators say cheap ones are just as good at doing their hair-cleansing job.
“Brands like Pantene, Garnier Fructis, and Tresemmé are good shampoos and relatively inexpensive,” says Romanowski. “They would be fine to use alone because they contain moisturizing ingredients and are often two-in-one shampoos without advertising that they are.”
Victoria Fu, cosmetic chemist and co-founder of Chemist Confessions, agrees. “Considering hair isn’t alive, we actually don’t have too many concerns about shampoo,” she tells me. “We’re almost certain most shampoo products are able to perform their main function of cleansing pretty well.” Really, she says the difference typically comes down to how much conditioning agents are in the product, which influence just how soft your hair feels after rinsing—which she says isn’t a big deal if you’re going to use a conditioner anyways. “We wouldn’t splurge on this category since most of the functional ingredients to cleanse hair are pretty much the same across mass and luxe brands,” she says.
So, there you have it—save that money for something else in your beauty routine… like, perhaps this $265 face cream that’s poised to be the next La Mer.
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