Professional versus drugstore shampoo: what’s really in the bottle?

Professional versus drugstore shampoo: what’s really in the bottle?

There are two types of people in this world: the ones who read the label on the shampoo bottle and those who simply wash their hair. And there are two types of shampoos: professional products and drugstore finds. Label-reader or not, have you ever wondered what the ingredients in your shampoo really do? What’s the difference between the lather you get at the salon and the lather you get at home? 

At Manzer, like most salons, we use professional products. And for good reason. It’s not so we can sell pricey shampoo to our customers, it’s because they’re simply better. We love Kevin.Murphy shampoo, conditioner and styling products and AG Hair products. And here’s why:


Yes. Professional shampoo is more expensive than drugstore shampoo. But here’s a salon secret you may not know: Professional shampoo is more concentrated than its less expensive counterparts. Want more lather while using a pro product? Add more water. Want more lather while using a drugstore brand? Add more shampoo. 

Simply put, while professional shampoo is more expensive. It lasts much longer—up to 10 to 12 months for 1 litre! The cost per use works out to the same or less than drugstore shampoos.


There’s a significant difference in ingredients between drugstore and professional shampoos. First, drugstore brands often include salt to thicken—again why you’ll need more product to get a better lather rather than just adding water. Salt can be abrasive and damaging to hair.

Have you heard of parabens? They are preservatives often used in beauty products, including shampoo and are known to disrupt hormone function, which can lead to breast cancer and reproductive issues. Both AG Hair and Kevin.Murphy products are paraben-free, which is another reason we love them!


While it may sound funny to only buy beauty products that fit with your values, when you really look at the practices of some brands, you may think again. At Manzer we only carry products that are PETA-approved, meaning that they don’t test on animals. AG Hair and Kevin.Murphy are vegan-friendly as well.

Ph balance

Shampoo should have the same pH as your hair or a slightly higher pH (around 4.5 to 5.5). This opens the hair’s cuticle—your hair’s outermost protective layer—so the surfactants can help remove excess oil and dirt the hair. Drugstore shampoo brands have a range of pH balances. You can’t be sure what you’re getting. But, you can feel confident that most professional brands, definitely AG Hair and Kevin.Murphy, will have a pH balance formulated to be gentle on your hair.

It’s worth mentioning that hair conditioner should have a lower pH (3.4 to 4.5) to close the hair’s cuticle, leaving hair looking smooth and silky. Professional brands meet this requirement, but may drugstore brands use silicones and other additives to create that smooth feeling. Unfortunately, these additives can build up on and weigh down the hair.


If you’re spending money and time on your cut and colour, it’s worth investing in quality products to keep your hair looking fresh. This will ultimately save you money on styling and colour services, because you’ll need fewer cuts and colour touch-ups.

Still not convinced? Think of it this way: if drugstore products were so great, wouldn’t salons be selling them, too?

1 comment

Awesome message. Congratulations on all your efforts!

Liza November 27, 2021

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