How to Make Smarter Hair Care Purchase Decisions

hair care product buying tipsLoads of hair products are hurdled toward consumers on a daily — near minutely — basis. From television advertisements to pop up Internet adds, glossy magazine spreads and even the posters at your go-to hair salon, product touting is inescapable in a world where we’re urged to buy, buy, buy.

This inundation often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and even unsure of our buying decisions. We ask ourselves, “What makes some hair products better than others? How do I know if my money is being well spent? Can I get the same results with a DIY hot oil treatment that I can with a $40 deep conditioner?”

I asked those very questions, and others, to expert Ron Robinson, an independent cosmetic chemist and beauty expert who’s been featured in publications such as Womens Wear Daily, LA Times and CBS News. He also serves as resident beauty expert at Allure Magazine. He’s worked as a cosmetic chemist for several large beauty brands, including Avon, Clinique and Lancome, and has had his hand in developing thousands of products.

Now, Robinson works to educate the consumer through the media and his website, about the products being sold at stores across the world. Through the brief Q & A below, Robinson will help you make smarter hair care purchase decisions.

Latest-Hairstyles: There are hundreds of products out there. What’s your best piece of advice when it comes to searching for the right shampoo/conditioner/styling products for my hair?

Ron Robinson: The best piece of advice I can give is to shop for hair products based on your unique hair type. For example: curly, thick, fine, color treated, processed, etc. Then look for those products that will give you the look you want or answer your hair concern.  For example, if you’re concerned about improving the shine of your hair and you also have fine hair, look for products for fine hair that improve shine. If you pick one for thick or curly hair, it might weigh your fine hair down and make it look more flat.

Latest-Hairstyles: When I’m standing at the store comparing products, what are the most important factors to consider?

Ron Robinson: As mentioned, look for products that address your hair type first. Ingredients matter as it relates to addressing your hair type. There is a big trend among hair products that are sulfate-free. This is referring to a group of surfactants  — or cleansing agents — that work to cleanse the hair.  These are commonly used but research has shown that they can be somewhat stripping for those with color-treated hair. This might be true but other hair types should be fine with using sulfate-containing products.

Latest-Hairstyles: Can I get the same results with DIY treatments as I do with expensive products? What’s the main difference?

Ron Robinson: DIY hair treatments are great if you have similar ingredients used in manufacturer products in your kitchen. These types of ingredients are best for hair masques and conditioners.  If you’re looking for shampoos and styling products, you are better off buying those found in the store.

Latest-Hairstyles: How do I know if I’m buying bad products?

Ron Robinson: Hair products have improved significantly over the past few years as manufacturers have spent more time researching and developing products that answer big consumer needs (for example, fighting frizz).  There are really no bad products out there, but they may not be for everyone’s hair type.

Latest-Hairstyles: What exactly are Eco-Friendly products?

Ron Robinson: Eco-beauty products can be defined as being either natural, organic, green/eco-friendly or socially conscious/responsible beauty products.

Latest-Hairstyles: What exactly are natural or organic beauty products?

Ron Robinson: Natural beauty products contain ingredients that are all or mostly natural. Organic beauty products are manufactured without chemicals. Green/eco-friendly beauty products help with the environment. Socially conscious/responsible beauty products are about companies “giving back to communities.” Consumers will continue to buy these products if they are shown to deliver performance at a competitive price.

Latest-Hairstyles: Is there a big difference between organic/eco-friendly hair products and non?

Ron Robinson: Both of the above types can offer similar performance. Otherwise it’s a personal decision if you want to support a brand/product that has a low carbon footprint.

Latest-Hairstyles: What kind of research should I do before buying a new shampoo, conditioner or styling product?

Ron Robinson: Before buying hair care products, seek advice from your hair stylist at your salon or seek help from drugstore beauty associates. Some drug stores offer this type of beauty counter service.

Want to learn more about getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to your hair? Click here.