To answer your question simply: yes. YES (could you hear the resounding echo of stylists around the world on that one?)
Ok, fine, but WHY?
You’re asking all the tough questions today, huh? Before we really dig into the not-as-simple answer of salon products vs the drugstores', let's start with the facts. There are 2 types of hair products - mass market and professional. Mass market products are chain brands that are mass produced for those specific stores, these are your Garnier, Pantene, Suave etc. These are the products that are designed as 1 size fits all. If those are your jam and you love how they make your hair look, then rock on with your bad self, just know you are MISSING OUT and potentially getting a few things you didn't bargain for (excuse the pun). The other type, professional products, are much higher quality, designed for results and to meet texture needs, manufactured and distributed only for clients to purchande in salons.
I won’t get into the whole issue of "Diversion," but as you can tell (I mean, you’re staring right at it at in the grocery store) these products can be found outside the salon. It looks identical to what your stylist showed you and it’s a fraction of the price - tempting indeed. While they may look the same on the outside, they are definitely NOT the same on the inside. That’s not to say that your local store employs a legion of Boxtroll types to fill empty bottles with some backroom hair product moonshine (although I’m sure someone has a not-so-far-off story).
The truth is that there is no way to guarantee the integrity of what you see in the grocery store, even if it did somehow find it’s way there from a salon (again, getting into Diversion territory). There’s a good chance that the products are expired (yes, hair products can expire) as there’s no telling how long they sat in a warehouse before being delivered to your store, or even what condition they were stored in. Also, products on a shelf in a grocery store are more than likely completely comprised. Think about it. How many people are touching the bottles, opening them up, putting their nose in it, sticking their fingers in it, and whatever other weirdo things people do to “test.” Air, germs, oils from fingers etc. all have an effect on the product, so by the time you buy it, that shampoo is far from what you’d get in a salon. We wont even get into the studies done on bacteria count found in products that have been opened to see what's in the bottle. (insert loud "ewwwww" and look of horror).
The other major problem with buying hair products from a supermarket (besides liquid germs in a bottle) is that you are missing a very crucial element in the process: your stylist! This is gonna sting a bit, but you do not know best when it comes to your hair. Go check your bathroom and see how many products you’ve used a couple times and never touched again that are just taking up space. Go ahead, we’ll wait…..
It’s a lot isn’t it! Stylists went to school for hair. They spend everyday with their hands in it and using all sorts of products on every hair type. They know what kind of hair you have, what products are needed to create any given style and how your hair will react to it. When they recommend a product to you, you can be sure that product was designed to get your specific hair type to do whatever it is you want. If you are buying on your own, you are essentially buying blindly. Without any recommendation or explanation on how to use the product, you may not be getting the right thing, or worse, using something the wrong way. It may look great in the bottle, but using a clarifying shampoo as a daily wash will F your hair up! Using something meant for hair thicker than yours will leave it feeling heavy and overly saturated with product. And then, you end up disappointed in the product, and it sits in the wasteland under your sink along with the other products that have failed you, when in reality, they just may not have been right for you to start with.
So, when you fork up a little extra cash at the salon for some shampoo, you’re not only paying for the superior product, but also for the expertise of your stylist. And that’s absolutely worth the difference from the $8 bottle of mystery goo at the drug store.