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Stop Making These 5 Costly Hair Mistakes

No one knows your hair better than you do. But is it possible that in your efforts to keep it healthy and looking good, you are washing money down the drain needlessly? Consider these costly mistakes many people make.

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Mistake: Expensive shampoo

Come on … ‘fess up. You feel guilty using $.99 shampoo because it’s really bad for your hair. And anybody knows the $24 salon variety is so much better especially for chemically treated hair, right? Wrong! Price has nothing to do with it.

The secret to shampoo intelligence is to know your detergents. Look at the list of ingredients on the shampoo bottle. Water (or some fancy name for it) will be the first ingredient. Next comes the detergent. It’s tricky, so keep this list handy.

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate – very harsh
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate – harsh
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – still harsh
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – mild, great choice
  • TEA Lauryl Sulfate – gentle, good choice
  • TEA Laureth Sulfate – gentle, also a good choice

When purchasing shampoo, consider just two things: price and the type of detergent (the list above). If you clip shampoo coupons and match them with shampoo sales, you may never pay more than $1 for shampoo again.

Pro tip

Many in the Herbal Essences and Suave lineup of shampoos—found in most supermarkets and drug stores—contain the mild option Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). But don’t assume—read the label.

Mistake: Overwashing

Shampoo strips essential oils from hair. Day-old hairstyles better and generally look better than freshly-washed hair. Cut back your daily shampooing to three or four times a week. Your hair will love you and your shampoo will last twice as long. If you want to freshen up your locks in between shampoos, spritz with a good dry shampoo.

Mistake: Too much shampoo

You don’t need a giant head of suds to know your shampoo is working. Start with just a small amount and concentrate on scrubbing your scalp which will take care of cleaning the roots. The suds will run down from the top of your head and get those ends clean anyway.

And the old adage that you need to shampoo, rinse and repeat? You can confidently skip the repeat. It’s just not necessary.

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Mistake: Rinsing too much

Colored hair is much different than hair that has not been chemically treated. Since colored hair absorbs and releases water much more easily, when the water leaves, it takes some of the color with it.

Rinse quickly to protect that expensive color job. Also, stick to lukewarm or cooler water since heat also removes color faster.

Mistake: Too much conditioner

The ends of your hair should be the focus when putting on conditioner which is formulated to be super-hydrating. When your scalp is covered in conditioner, you’re likely to end up with a tacky film that leads to build-up.

Use only a small amount of conditioner and then work it into the ends of the hair, avoiding the scalp area.

With the money you save on the shampoo, buy a quality conditioner. Unlike shampoo that washes down the drain, the quality of the conditioner does make a difference. Just keep in mind that it takes only a tiny amount to get the job done, so go easy!


Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Bellafaye Garden

First published: 12-28-18; Revised & Updated 4-24-20

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13 replies
  1. Cheri Gee says:

    For lush hair, try a bit of castor oil mixed in your shampoo of choice. Don’t use a lot because it would be hard to wash out. Castor oil will also help hair, eyelashes and eye brows with new growth. Enjoy.

  2. Pat Moore says:

    Mary, I am 79 years old and I thank you for reminding me about those shampoo ingredients and how they have treated my hair and scalp and made me so miserable. You make such a wonderful difference is so many of our lives. Love you.

  3. Jackie says:

    Mary: You mentioned the following items to look for in shampoos: Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate – very harsh; Ammonium Laureth Sulfate – harsh; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – still harsh; Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – mild, great choice ; TEA Lauryl Sulfate – gentle, good choice; TEA Laureth Sulfate – gentle, also a good choice (all the sulfates, sulfites, and sulfonamides)
    I would say none of these are goof for a person with a sulfa/sulfate/sulfite allergy. I know from experience that they are not good for people with any of these allergies. I know that they say they are not the same thing to a sulfa allergy but I ask them why when I was diagnosed with a sulfa allergy they told me not to use the others either. The simple truth is they are derivatives of Sulfa and believe me when I use them I get real problems/ I also have problems with body soap for the same reason and the allergy can come on you slowly because people don’t believe they are related. I really break out bad from the sulfates, sulfites and sulfonamides and start to have breathing problems and if I don’t take a benadryll immediately I can go into anaphylactic shock which is no fun. Since we live 45 miles from any hospital and 180 miles from the VA we use.
    Please warn people about these additives.

  4. Cathy down on the farm... says:

    Thanks for the “heads up”, Mary! Looks like I have been doing something right! I just commented to my husband the other day that I bet people would think we are serious Cheapskates – we are – if they saw our bathroom. All they would see is an economy size Coconut Suave bottle of shampoo and cream rinse and a small vanilla and creme hand washing pump with a couple of bars of soap in the shower. Living simply is so much easier … and cheaper!

  5. Nicki says:

    Using a shampoo/conditioner for color-treated hair can help extend your haircolor, even a week or two. In the long run, the small amount of shampoo is insignificant to having to color more frequently.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      And … I’ll suggest that those pricey products “for color-treated hair” are shampoos with one of the gentle detergents. Check it out!

  6. Jan New says:

    Would it be possible to identify a few of these shampoos by name? I’ve looked on-line and have only found baby shampoo by Johnson and Johnson.

    • CHERYL says:

      I personally like the Suave Professionals, Rosemary Mint shampoo. It makes my hair feel clean and the smell in the shower helps me get moving in the morning. I hope that helps. :0>

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Try the two links in the post … Herbal Essences and Suave. You can see the ingredients list if you click on the back view of the products. T

    • Tracy Smith says:

      Don’t do baby shampoo! I’ve been in hair for years (not currently). But that has always been a no-no! And sadly I don’t have the reasons why.

      • linda says:

        i can tell you why i refuse to use it…i must be strange, but it burns my eyes just as bad as regular shampoo and i hate the smell of it.
        i actually use a bar of pine tar soap. my hair likes it and there is no plastic bottle to add to the discarded plastic waste, whether or not you recycle. and vinegar rinse

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