Ingredients. When you examine the ingredient list on a bottle of shampoo, what you see listed first is what there is most of in the bottle and so on until the end of the list which is what there is least of in the bottle.
The first ingredient will frequently be water and the last ingredient is often a dye. Toward the top of the list you will notice an ingredient such as ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium laurel sulfate, or sodium laureth sulfate.
These are surfactants. Their purpose is to make water wetter, or to put it differently, to help the cleaning agents lather. A surfactant can also be a cleaning agent in and of itself. Salon products should contain gentler surfactants than your store bought shampoo.
You will then see some conditioning agents listed. Your salon shampoo should contain higher quality protein based conditioners or moisturizing conditioners, thus enabling the conditioner to penetrate deeper into the hair shaft or scalp and lock in moisture. These quality ingredients contribute to the cost of the product and is why they are not typically found in store bought products.
The remaining ingredients are largely consumer appeal ingredients, or what we call ‘fluff’. These contribute towards color, aroma, and consumer buzz words such as honey and aloe.
Although it is true that honey can have beneficial affects on your hair, it is very unlikely that it can do anything in the quantity available in the bottle. Honey is added as an ingredient to appeal to your idea of what is good, whether it is based on scientific fact or not. Aloe is nothing more than water unless it is ‘stabilized’ aloe.
Lastly, a few ingredients are stabilizers and preservatives, but the most important ingredients to keep your eyes on are the surfactants. We prefer the sodium laureth sulfate. It is the gentlest of the surfactants but will lather very little which is why most shampoos won’t use it. Consumers believe their hair isn’t getting clean unless there are tons of bubbles. In truth lather has no beneficial affect and contributes little toward good cleaning.