Hair-Care Product Steals- Get Gorgeous Hair for Less

Airdate: 8/21/13

In a sea of hair-care products, which ones really work? Can you really find great hair care at the drugstore? Paula and Bryan reveal the beauty bargains that take hair from dull to dazzling, all without breaking the bank. Learn how to shop smarter for hair care and save money, regardless of your hair type or hair care concerns.

Paula Begoun: Hi, it's Paula Begoun and Bryan Barron, "Keeping you Beautifully Informed." We're part of the Paula's Choice Research Team. Bryan Barron and I are author of the current edition and many other editions of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me." You can visit us at which is my line of skincare products that the Paula's Choice Research Team and I have developed.
00:00:29 And, oh god, we do so much. I mean, we have We have We have dozens of articles, just advice that will shock you because nobody else, well, maybe not nobody else, but we're definitely telling you what the research says is true about skincare or hair care.
Bryan Barron: And sometimes when people, we find that they're sharing the same information. And we dig a little deeper and find out they're fans. They are sharing the information they got from us.
Paula Begoun: We love that. Sometimes they share it and they don't quote us back, but that's fine. As long as it's the truth.
Bryan Barron: Just the fact that there's so much misinformation out there.
00:01:06 And to have other people, people besides us getting the truth out there is great.
Paula Begoun: So, our basic philosophy is expensive doesn't mean better and wasting money isn't pretty. And what we're going to talk about now is hair care product steals. Get gorgeous hair for less. Because, and I say this unequivocally, we have written books on hairstyling -- three editions of "Don't Go Shopping for Hair Care Products Without Me."
00:01:35 There is no reason to spend a lot of money on hair care products, particularly styling products, anything much over $10, and it better well be a pretty large size container, is just throwing money down the toilet. The ingredients it takes to keep hair in place, to make hair feel clean, to condition hair, to make it feel soft, those ingredients are not unique or special.
00:02:06 The similarity between formulas and hair care is shocking -- shocking, shocking, shocking.
Bryan Barron: I have a little story.
Paula Begoun: Oh!
Bryan Barron: So, it perfectly dovetails with that point. I was at the Gene Juarez Salon.
Paula Begoun: A local salon here in the Seattle area.
Bryan Barron: Here in the Seattle area. And I was there for a massage. A 90-minute incredible massage.
Paula Begoun: And somehow this will go back to hair care.
Bryan Barron: Ah, my god, that massage was amazing.
00:02:34 But, yes, so I'm checking in…
Paula Begoun: But now I want to go get a massage.
Bryan Barron: I know! Now I want to step away from the radio show and, yeah.
Paula Begoun: Go back to the Gene Juarez salon.
Bryan Barron: So, I'm standing in line to get checked in, and there's one line for check in and, of course, another line for check out. And there was at least three women in line who had clearly just had their hair done. And they were all holding armfuls of Kerastase products. And Kerastase is a hair care line that's sold in salons. It's owned by L'Oreal.
00:03:01 And many women are shocked to find out that the products differ minimally, if at all, from what you will get at the drugstore when you buy L'Oreal.
Paula Begoun: And they're like four times more, the Kerastase is four times more expensive.
Bryan Barron: It is so hard in situations like that for me to not go over to those women and say, "Stop! Don't spend that money." You know, the hair service alone I'm sure was over $100, and then you've got $150 of product in your arms.
Paula Begoun: That are small containers, because they're smaller than what L'Oreal sells.
Bryan Barron: Of course.
Paula Begoun: And you end up going through it, so if you decide those are, you know, the stylist recommended it, so that's why you got to buy it, you're going to be…
00:03:42 I mean, I can't. The amount of wasted money on hair care products drives me crazy. Because if you know anything about formulation, and it's hard to know, because those words are so complicated on the back of the container, you're just stuck. You're stuck buying products that are unnecessarily expensive. You know, it's interesting, when I think about styling products and the good and the bad about styling products, or shampoos and conditioners, it's actually hard to find a bad product.
00:04:15 It's not that there aren't bad products, but more so than ever before advances in hair care are really stunning. And so more so than when we wrote the first edition of "Don't Go Shopping for Hair Care Products Without Me." And one of the reasons we actually stopped -- we didn't go past the third edition of the book, although we do have some hair care product reviews up on Beautypedia, is because it just got tiring to say, "This is a good product. This is a good product. This is a good product. This is a good product."
Bryan Barron: Yes. Just to clarify, there are no hair care product reviews on the Beautypedia portion of
Paula Begoun: Oh, sorry.
Bryan Barron: But, in the expert advice section we have a little block of hair care articles.
00:04:53 Actually, quite a few. And throughout most of those articles you'll find product recommendations. Not formal reviews per se.
Paula Begoun: And the reason we don't do formal reviews is because it got really boring going, "This is a good product, this is a good product, this is a good product, this is a good product," because it's hard to find a bad hair care product. The reason you might use a hair care product -- let me be very clear about this.
Bryan Barron: And not like it.
Paula Begoun: And not like it is because you bought a hair care product that wasn't right for your hair type as opposed to that it's a bad product.
00:05:27 You might have wanted soft hold and it's firm hold.
Bryan Barron: Or, part two is that you believe the claims on the label.
Paula Begoun: Ah! Like "Repairing hair." Do you want to speak to that?"
Bryan Barron: Well, you can't repair hair.
Paula Begoun: You can't repair hair.
Bryan Barron: Hair is dead.
Paula Begoun: Dead. Drop dead. Dead. You cut it, you don't go, "Ouch."
Bryan Barron: Yes.
Paula Begoun: Right. So, all of the claims about repairing hair, they're lying. Lying. Fibbing. Right through their teeth.
Bryan Barron: Or, any other word they use like "Reconstruct, Rebuild," especially after a chemical service such as coloring or like a Brazilian blowout, or if anyone is still getting a perm, I don't know.
Paula Begoun: Oh sure. Well, actually, maybe not. You don't see that.
Bryan Barron: Coloring by far the most common chemical service somebody would have done to their hair. And no matter what you're told, and no matter what the product says, coloring always damages your hair.
Paula Begoun: Always damages hair.
Bryan Barron: And there's no product that can bring it back to the way it was before it was colored.
Paula Begoun: It can make it feel…
Bryan Barron: Which is how…
Paula Begoun: …healthy and normal.
Bryan Barron: Exactly.
Paula Begoun: You don't want to stop using those products.
00:06:29 But if you bought it because you thought it was going to repair your hair, just, it doesn't. The more expensive doesn't. The cheap doesn't. Those claims are lies.
Bryan Barron: One of the points you made up, or not made up, but brought up in the past…
Paula Begoun: Thank you, Bryan!
Bryan Barron: We make up things all the time here!
Paula Begoun: I spend way too much time researching to just make this stuff up.
Bryan Barron: You can't make this stuff up.
Paula Begoun: Actually, you can make this stuff up.
Bryan Barron: Some of it's too controversial to make up. But, one of the things you've always said about products, why they can't repair hair that I've always loved , is that if it truly worked as claimed, if it repaired hair you'd only have to use it once.
00:07:05 And your hair would be repaired.
Paula Begoun: There you go. You'd have good, healthy, young hair like your kids. And they can run around like crazy. You wash it. You don't have to put anything else on it. And it's beautiful. That doesn't happen, right. Exactly.
Bryan Barron: The next time you shampoo your hair is just as damaged as it was before. And if you don't use that "Repair" product it's going to feel bad and look…
Paula Begoun: And the irony is when they stick in fancy ingredients, because sometimes hair care products do stick in plant extracts, and antioxidants. I mean…
Bryan Barron: Caviar.
Paula Begoun: Oh, Alterna.
Bryan Barron: Yes.
Paula Begoun: Alterna does the caviar?
Bryan Barron: Yes. We're seeing a resurgence of anti-aging in hair care.
00:07:48 Nexxus has their anti-aging hair care. Alterna does. I wouldn't be surprised if Kerastase does. I haven't looked to be certain, but it wouldn't shock me in the least.
Paula Begoun: So, what's crazy about... -- Sorry, I start mumbling because I get so upset. So, the issue is, again, hair is dead. We've said that. But the insanity, even if hair wasn't dead and you really could put antioxidants or, I don't know what other claims they're making, or some kind of plant extract, or caviar, or some kind of ingredient that could repair hair, the problem is if it's in a shampoo or conditioner it's being rinsed down the drain.
00:08:34 If it's in a styling product, and you're styling your hair with a blow dryer or a flatiron, you're burning those ingredients off the hair because they're getting heated up and going away. It's a problem. It's not a problem. But, it doesn't work. Spending extra money on those kind of ingredients, and first of all, they're putting in just miniscule amounts of those ingredients because they don't do anything.
00:09:03 They know it's a marketing gimmick to make you think you're getting something different. Stop doing that. It's a phenomenal waste of money. Doesn't help your hair. So, the good news is that hair care doesn't have to be expensive. I mean, it can be.. -- Skincare can't always be cheap. But, hair care can always be cheap. That great big bottle of TRESemmé, is that how you pronounce? TRESemmé? Tre?
Bryan Barron: Yup.
Paula Begoun: Semmé? That you see in the drugstore. Buy it! It's okay. It's a good shampoo. The conditioner is a little on the lightweight side, so we don't recommend it for every hair type, but it's good. It's great.
00:09:45 When your stylist tells you that the drugstore stuff contains the bad ingredients, you know, you can clean floors with it -- if they looked at the ingredients on their product, they're the same ingredients!
Bryan Barron: Yes.
Paula Begoun: Because there's only so many ingredients in shampoos that clean hair, so many in conditioners that condition hair. Styling ingredients are universal. Okay, sorry. I'm carrying on.
00:10:14 Bryan, you have some bargains for us.
Bryan Barron: I do.
Paula Begoun: You have some of the beautiful bargain hair care products that work as good, if not absolutely better than the salon products.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. So, all of these products, not too long ago I went to a local drugstore and I spent some time in the hair care aisle, which I hadn't done in awhile. I was surprised at how many new things I saw. Hair care products have a very high, what's called a turnover rate. And you may be listening and nodding along thinking, "Yup, as soon as I find a shampoo or conditioner I like, and I go back to get to get it again, it's something different. Or it's gone completely."
00:10:52 So, I can't guarantee that these products are all still going to be there, but I think it's an interesting mix of new and some of them are longstanding. So, let's go through them. But these are all inexpensive and these are all really nice formulas. The first one is Alba Botanica's Natural Hawaiian Shampoo Body Builder Mango.
00:11:13 It's supposed to make your hair smell like you've been on a tropical vacation. Fragrances in hair care, anymore than fragrance in skincare. But, it is a nice conditioning shampoo. It contains gentle cleansing agents. Great for normal to dry hair that's normal to slightly thick, course, or even curly. Again, the exotic plant and fruit extracts have no impact on creating fullness. You need to create fullness with the styling products and a blow dryer. But the fact that this leaves minimal buildup will definitely help you create that fullness effect.
Paula Begoun: And what was the price on that?
Bryan Barron: It is $6.99 for 12oz. Not bad.
Paula Begoun: Please, when you're looking at the salon version, that's what, $25 for 4oz or 5oz. I mean, you can't even…yeah. Unbelievable.
Bryan Barron: And that's our vegan, animal testing-friendly…well, I don't think most of these brands test on animals.
00:12:08 Next one up is Finesse. Finesse is back with a product called Clean & Simple Hypoallergenic Shampoo for Dry Color-Treated Hair.
Paula Begoun: No kidding? Finesse? I haven't seen that in the drugstore in years!
Bryan Barron: I was surprised. And they have a couple of mild shampoos. It's a simple and effective formula. It's well-suited to dry hair, whether it's color-treated or not. By the way, there's no reason to use a special shampoo that says it's for "Color-Treated Hair."
00:12:33 Paula, would you like to say why? Women ask us this all the time, "What shampoo should I use for my color-treated hair?"
Paula Begoun: And so the question I ask the stylist all the time when they say, "Use this product for color-treated hair," and I'll say, "What are the ingredients it has that are for color-treated hair that aren't in your other products?" And, of course, the answer is…they don't have an answer. And no matter who I've talked to, the chemists that formulate products, they'll tell you straight out that when it comes to color-treated hair there are no ingredients that keep hair color from a shampoo or a conditioner in hair.
00:13:15 Those ingredients are rinsed down the drain. They can make hair feel soft. Your conditioner in particular can make hair feel soft.
Bryan Barron: Sure.
Paula Begoun: But just because it says for "For color-treated hair," that ain't the reason. There aren't special ingredients for that. Definitely use one that says "For dry hair." Now, that's a different story.
Bryan Barron: Yes.
Paula Begoun: Because the ingredients for dry hair, and often color-treated hair is dry, those ingredients are usually forms of silicones or emollients or silky…
Bryan Barron: Sometimes I've seen more and more shampoos and conditioners with plant oils. They're just using a straight oil.
00:13:51 Now, you want to make sure that's in a lower amount, because a plant oil is definitely going to make your hair feel heavy and greasy.
Paula Begoun: Greasy.
Bryan Barron: But this Finesse Clean & Simple Hypoallergenic Shampoo is a good option for dry hair. It says it won't strip hair color, but again, that's true for most shampoos made today. And interestingly enough, the biggest culprits for fading color are water and sunlight.
Paula Begoun: And, your flatiron and blow dryer when they heat up to 400 degrees. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Bryan Barron: So, if you can somehow keep water and UV light off your hair, your color will last a lot longer.
Paula Begoun: A lot longer.
Bryan Barron: Not realistic.
00:14:29 We agree, but keep in mind color-treated hair does not need a special shampoo.
Paula Begoun: And how much is that shampoo again?
Bryan Barron: $3.99 for 10oz.
Paula Begoun: Don't you love it? I love it. I love it.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. Next one up, this is a great conditioner. It's Neutrogena, their Triple Renewal Weightless Conditioner. This one has been out for awhile and I'm glad to see it's sticking around. Neutrogena really isn't known for their hair care, but this is a really kind of a sleeper conditioner. It's not truly new, but it remains -- I called it the Goldilocks of conditioners for normal to finer thin hair.
00:14:59 It's not too heavy. It's not too light. It's just right.
Paula Begoun: Ha!
Bryan Barron: Apply to hair from mid-length to ends. It will offer smoothness, shine, and manageability without leaving a heavy or a dulling residue. As with any conditioner, applying directly to scalp when hair is fine or thin can backfire. When you do have fine or thin hair you want to concentrate the conditioner on the ends only. Anything too close to the roots is why you're struggling so much with giving your hair some body.
00:15:25 Pantene…
Paula Begoun: Actually, before you go to Pantene, so you gave me a conditioner to try some time ago, and I just realized that I never -- a Dove Cream Conditioner.
Bryan Barron: Oh, wow. That was a while ago.
Paula Begoun: What was that called? Do you remember?
Bryan Barron: It was one of their cream -- was it a conditioner or was it a styling cream?
Paula Begoun: Oh, well, I've been using it as a conditioner!
Bryan Barron: It was a conditioner. You're right. I'd have to look up the exact name, but it was like Cream Oil Conditioner. Do you like it?
Paula Begoun: So, I have, Paula's Choice does have a conditioner, fragrance-free. Very hard to find a fragrance-free…
Bryan Barron: Ah! Nearly impossible.
Paula Begoun: …conditioner. So, if you're just putting conditioner on your ends it's not quite as big a deal, but if you're putting you're conditioner on your scalp, you have an itchy scalp, that can just make things worse. So, I've been using my conditioner forever.
00:16:17 But you gave me this Dove Conditioner to try, and I'll tell you, if you have dry, coarse, thick hair, that was a great conditioner. We're going to look it up. We'll tell you about it and get the price and the name in just a little bit here.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. I will.
Paula Begoun: Do you have it down there?
Bryan Barron: No, it's not on this list. And it's possible…I do have a Dove product on my list, but I'll tell you about it in a sec. Let's talk about this Pantene from their Expert Collection, Pro-V Advanced Plus Keratin Repair Conditioner.
00:16:49 Another one of those conditioners saying it's going to repair the hair. We talked about why that's not possible. This one is a bit pricier for a drugstore conditioner. $8.99 for 8.4oz. But, it does cost more than most of Pantene's other conditioners, almost all of which come in larger sizes, too. But, this particular one has a formulary and performance edge in terms of making hair look like spun silk. It's creamy. It has an elegant feel. And it's best for normal to dry hair of any thickness. Those with fine hair can use it.
00:17:18 Just apply it to the ends and rinse. The fragrance is subtle and thankfully it's sophisticated rather than synthetically fruity. This advanced line is basically Pantene's salon angled brand. It's definitely worth looking into.
Paula Begoun: Sorry, I'm not ignoring you, Bryan. I think I found the conditioner.
Bryan Barron: Did you?
Paula Begoun: I did. I found the Dove Conditioner. Come, bring it up. Come. Okay, go to the next one because the…
Bryan Barron: Well, the next product on the list is from Dove. And it's the Dove Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil Care Leave-In Smoothing Cream.
00:17:52 This is $5 for 4oz. It's creamy and lightweight. It's a very good option for all hair types except very thick, wiry, or coarse hair. It offers heat protection. Not total heat protection. Nothing is going to 100% protect your hair from heat. Frizz control. And it's going to leave hair smooth and shiny. It's an excellent mixer product for use with say a gel or another styling product that you want to use for hold and control.
00:18:14 Because this cream on its own isn't going to give you much hold. The fragrance is kind of intense at first, but it does soften once the hair is dry.
Paula Begoun: So, let's actually, I want to talk about heat damage. So, remind me, because I'm going to forget. But, the Dove product I was just talking about is Dove Intense Damage Defense Daily Treatment Conditioner. And I got to say, I mean, it's…
Bryan Barron: Comes in a tube, right?
Paula Begoun: Comes in a tube. It's heavy. It isn't for all hair types. It really is for dry, coarse, damaged hair. It just…
Bryan Barron: I gave you my tube, because I used it for awhile. I wanted to see how my hair would fare with it. And it was nice at first, but then after about…
Paula Begoun: It's too heavy for you, isn't it?
Bryan Barron: It was. Yes. After awhile I just realized this is just too much for my hair.
Paula Begoun: Yeah. And your hair is short. You really would have to use a clarifying shampoo like the Finesse one we mentioned that doesn't contain anything other than shampoo to really be able to get it out, or you will get build up. But, for dry, damaged, coarse hair... -- And, you know, Dove just in general, I mean, it's $5 for 8oz.
00:19:21 Dove makes a whole bunch of hair care products that are, I mean, stay away from their skincare. We don't recommend their skincare. But, boy, do they do... -- They started hair care kind of late, but boy did they come out with some good hair care products.
Bryan Barron: They did. Yeah. The one thing I would, other than the Dove products that we are calling out specifically here, the one thing I wanted to get out there is that, yes, Dove absolutely has some good hair care. What you can absolutely ignore are the hair type distinctions. Because what I've noticed is that their shampoos and conditioners, just the general every day type stuff, tend to be the exact same across the board.
00:20:01 So, the Weightless Volume is the same as the Intense Moisture.
Paula Begoun: Herbal Essence does that, too.
Bryan Barron: Most brands do. Pantene is a prime example. Pantene will take the exact same shampoo formula, at least we think it's the same, and they spin it off…
Paula Begoun: It sure looks the same.
Bryan Barron: It sure looks the same.
Paula Begoun: In terms of formulary.
Bryan Barron: And they spin it off. That's the shampoo for curly hair, for thick hair, for fine hair, for thin hair, for clarifying, for wavy hair, beautiful length, whatever you want to call it.
00:20:26 It's all…it's simply appealing to the various preferences and types of hair that consumers have. So, really quick, rounding out this list, we have a couple more products that we think very highly of at the drug store. These are inexpensive products. You don't have to spend a lot on your hair care. The next one is Aveeno Nourish Plus Condition Leave-In Treatment. This $6.49 for 5.2oz. This is a spray, a spray-on leave-in conditioner. It is a brilliant option if you have normal to fine, or thin hair. Super light formula. Won't weigh hair down, yet it makes it easy to detangle and enhances manageability. If you have fine hair and a lot of it, and you're having a hard time getting a comb through the hair, this is an ideal product.
00:21:09 You need something in your hair to be able to get that comb or brush through. And without it you're fighting an uphill battle because those tangles, they're going to get snagged, you're going to break the hair. That is a prime source of damage. Combing and brushing the hair, the more you manipulate the hair, the more damage you are causing. Like it or not, that's just the way it is.
Paula Begoun: Oh, so speaking of damage, so this is something that happens at the hair salon all the time, although obviously my stylist doesn't go through that with me.
00:21:40 But if I got to a new salon I always get the "why I need to buy their products" instead of using the products I have. So, one of the more damaging things you can do to hair, that is essential for styling hair, is a flatiron or a blow dryer. Flatirons heat up to over 400 degrees. The boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. And blow dryers, same thing.
00:22:07 Heat up phenomenally. You can use them on lower heat, but then you don't get any styling. It is the high heat that ends up styling the hair. That is incredibly damaging. The stylist will often say to you that they're putting something on the hair, this product -- usually expensive, because you're in the salon -- that's going to protect it from heat damage.
00:22:29 Now, it's not that there aren't ingredients, particularly silicones that can help the heat glide over the hair better -- actually, depends how you style your hair more so than the ingredients. But, there is a little bit of research showing that silicones, in particular, have some amount -- we're talking a teeny, itty bitty amount, and usually at lower heats to protect hair. But, given that if you took that styling product, and do not do this at home, but when you think about it, that flatiron that's heating up to 400 degrees, if you put that styling product on your skin, it would not protect it from 400 degrees of heat.
00:23:15 It no sooner could protect your skin than it can protect your hair.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
Paula Begoun: And the little bit of research about silicone helping, which I really think is about sliding the heat, makes it easier to slide the brush through the hair while you're styling your hair. Slide the flatiron over, you know, silicones help move the flatiron better. But those ingredients show up in the cheap products, too.
Bryan Barron: They do.
Paula Begoun: There isn't anything about the expensive ones that are going to help your hair. And those ingredients minimally help hair.
Bryan Barron: And here's one such product, the last one on the list here is from L'Oreal.
00:23:49 L'Oreal just redid a lot of their hair care. And just like we were saying earlier as far as repetitive formulas among shampoos and conditioners, exact same thing.
Paula Begoun: Exact same thing.
Bryan Barron: I have checked them all out. Regardless of what it says on the front, or the hair type it says it's for, you could literally pick blindly and go home and get the same results. But, this product in their line kind of stood out for us. It's L'Oreal Advanced Hair Care Color Vibrancy Dual Protect Spray Antioxidant.
00:24:15 It is a very long name. $6.99 for 5.1oz. It's primarily just a lightweight silicone spray for shine and frizz-free smoothness. But, it has an edge due to the sunscreen ingredients it contains. "Used as a finishing touch on hair, the sunscreen ingredients likely provide some amount of protection against UV rays, a prime cause of hair color fading. L'Oreal claims this protects hair from heat damage, all the way up to 450 degrees." It's likely bogus -- as Paula just said, water boils at 212 degrees, and 450 degree temps are going to damage your hair no matter what you apply beforehand.
00:24:51 This product…
Paula Begoun: Are they really making that claim?
Bryan Barron: Oh, yeah.
Paula Begoun: And on their website, too? They have a study showing how they make that claim?
Bryan Barron: I didn't explore that. But we can take a look at it.
Paula Begoun: Odd. Well, it's not possible. Okay, sorry, I find that... -- I have not seen any research in any of the cosmetic chemistry journals that we pour over that have anything showing that you can protect hair from 450 degrees. I mean…
Bryan Barron: Yeah. That's insane.
Paula Begoun: Combustion? Things catch on fire at 512 degrees.
00:25:29 I mean, we were talking, just a little bit hotter and your hair would kind of spring into flames. Yeah, I don't get it. But, let me just -- there are, I mean, products often shock us. We often fall off our seat and you can hear us in the office going, "I can't believe it." So, this is one of those products that we just, the yelling in the office was volume, you know, bigger than any hairstyle you could get. The volume was intense.
00:26:03 Frederic Fekkai Ageless Overnight Hair Repair for $195. So, why it's bad is the price.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. Fekkai is owned by P&G, Procter & Gamble, the same company that owns Pantene, among many other hair care brands. The new Vidal Sassoon products, by the way, avoid those shampoos. They're not good formulas. The conditioners are okay.
Paula Begoun: What's wrong with the Vidal Sassoon shampoos?
Bryan Barron: They all contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
Paula Begoun: No kidding?
Bryan Barron: As the primary cleansing agent. Dated formulas.
00:26:39 Just there are so many other ways they could have gone with those shampoos, but they seem content…
Paula Begoun: So, is it high up on the ingredient list, the sodium lauryl sulfate?
Bryan Barron: It's the primary surfactant. It's number two.
Paula Begoun: No! So, the reason we're carrying on about sodium lauryl sulfate is as a cleansing agent it's not bad. It's a decent shampoo ingredient.
00:27:00 The problem with sodium lauryl sulfate, because you are putting it on your scalp and scratching it into your scalp when you're giving your hair a good shampoo, and sodium lauryl sulfate is notorious for at 5% concentration and in a shampoo where it's the second ingredient, it's likely even more than 5%, it's an irritant. It causes inflammation.
00:27:28 It causes the skin to react. I mean, sodium lauryl sulfate is kind of like a standard in the dermatology world when they're comparing irritants.
Bryan Barron: It is.
Paula Begoun: Because they know that sodium lauryl sulfate will inflame skin, so everything else is kind of judged against that ingredient.
Bryan Barron: Right. And it's often confused with sodium laureth sulfate. It's rather unfortunate that that other cleansing agent has such a similar name, because from a chemistry standpoint it's not necessarily a similar ingredient.
Paula Begoun: Oh, by far it's not the same thing.
Bryan Barron: So, we'll often get, sometimes we'll hear from women who say, "I read that you don't like sodium lauryl sulfate. I understand why it's bad. So, why do you use it in your shampoo and facial cleansers?"
00:28:08 And we don't.
Paula Begoun: We don't. Right.
Bryan Barron: They're confusing it with sodium laureth sulfate which is much, much gentler. It's a different ingredient.
Paula Begoun: Trying to figure out ingredients in skincare…
Bryan Barron: It's tough!
Paula Begoun: …is just, you know, or hair care. There are thousands of ingredients. It's what we spend our life doing is understanding, keeping up with the new research.
00:28:27 But let me make it very clear that Frederic Fekkai Ageless Overnight Hair Repair, you will not be ageless, you will not be repaired. Yeah, no…
Bryan Barron: You'll be poorer.
Paula Begoun: You might not make rent. Yes! That's true.
Bryan Barron: So, Paula, I posted on Facebook about our show, the Paula's Choice Facebook page, and I've got some great questions.
Paula Begoun: Okay, let's do it.
Bryan Barron: So, let's handle some of these. First one, let's take Jennifer's question. She wanted to know, "What products or what can I do to help my hair grow long and thick? Is it true that the length of hair is designed by one's genes and can't grow past a certain point? I can't get my hair to grow past a certain length and I'd love help on how to have it grow longer.
Paula Begoun: Yeah. Genes. Genetics.
00:29:17 Sometimes it could be because of breakage. Depending on how damaged your hair is, particularly if you went from dark hair to very blonde, white hair, then the intense breakage length, you could just never get past a certain length because of the damage, because it's breaking off. But, if you haven't done that -- you can also overheat the hair. You can style the hair with very high heat flatirons and break off the ends. The ends are always more vulnerable to damage because they've just been around longer and have been damaged from heat, and sun, and shampooing, and brushing, and conditioning.
00:29:58 So, you can have some breakage. Well, and actually a lot of breakage depending on how you're styling your hair and how you're coloring your hair.
Bryan Barron: Yes.
Paula Begoun: By far. Or perming your hair. But, generally speaking, it is genetically programmed how long your hair will be. There's some Ripley's Believe it or Not where the woman has hair that has grown down the street.
Bryan Barron: Or do you remember country singer Crystal Gayle?
Paula Begoun: Yes.
Bryan Barron: Did you ever see how long her hair got?
00:30:32 She was known for her very long…it almost went like mid-calf.
Paula Begoun: Oh my gosh.
Bryan Barron: It was that long.
Paula Begoun: Yeah, so it really can be one of three things -- damage, and then the only way to take care of it is damage; that there is an issue of over-dyeing your hair, and that extreme process causes damage; and then there's genetics.
00:30:57 Now, in terms of hormones, as you get older, if you're older the age of 45 and you're starting to head into menopause, and around the age of 45, 40 to 50, you're pretty premenopausal. Definitely a change in estrogen will reduce hair growth on your head. Women get male pattern baldness and you can actually definitely get a change in the length of your hair as well as in the amount of your hair.
00:31:28 In that regard, then what I strongly always suggest, because the research is so clear, that minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, but minoxidil comes as a generic product. The 5% solution that says it's for guys works for women. And you can get growth back. Research is pretty good that 60% or so of women who use minoxidil -- I've been using it for years -- will get some amount of regrowth back.
00:31:59 And something to consider using.
Bryan Barron: So, Ronia, I hope I'm saying her name right, wants to know -- she says, "I'm seeing a lot of sulfate-free products being advertised. Are sulfates really bad for your hair?"
Paula Begoun: Boy, the so-called "natural hair care industry" and some other, I don't know who, grass root organizations, want you to believe that sulfates are the new evil in skincare and hair care products and they're not.
00:32:29 The research about sulfates being carcinogenic and all that stuff is -- any of the research that does exist is about in pure concentrations. And even then it's remote, the amount of any bad ingredients it might generate. No research showing that anybody is sick or anything, or having any problems in terms of their health or their hair because of sulfates.
00:32:58 However, if you want to believe the hysteria, despite the lack of research showing that sulfates are a danger, there are sulfate-free shampoos. Go for it. Give it a try. They generally don't clean as well, because one of the reasons sulfates are so popular is because they work so well. And some of them, I mean, we're suggesting you stay away from sodium lauryl sulfate because it can be irritating, not that it's damaging or dangerous, just that it can be a skin irritant.
00:33:29 But it's up to you. You could definitely try the sulfate-free ones, but we are not convinced by any research that sulfate is a problem.
Bryan Barron: And clearly some of the companies like L'Oreal, that sell sulfate-free options, aren't convinced either, because you can get sulfate-free and sulfate-containing products from L'Oreal.
Paula Begoun: Right. Exactly.
Bryan Barron: I've been meaning to call their consumer line and say, "I don't get it. Are sulfates a problem or not? Because I'm standing in the drugstore right now and…
Paula Begoun: We see both.
Bryan Barron: "I see both from your line. So, is it or isn't it bad?
00:34:00 And if they are bad, why are you still selling the products that contain it?" Don't tell me that they're going to ravage my hair but then say, oh no, go ahead and buy that one.
Paula Begoun: Yeah. So, yes, you can find sulfate-free. It doesn't have to be expensive. And, for example, L'Oreal does have one. I think it's nonsense. Well, I don't think it's nonsense. The research just isn't there to support the hysteria you can find on the internet."
Bryan Barron: Yeah. Stacy wants to know, she says, "All the different hair oils, i.e. Moroccan, Argan, what can be used as natural, such as coconut oil or olive oil?"
00:34:35 Really I think what she wants to know is, because Stacy, these are all natural hair oils. Other than the silicones, such as cyclopentasiloxane or phenyl trimethicone, those are synthetic. But the question she's asking is whether or not she needs to use a hair oil.
Paula Begoun: Right.
Bryan Barron: Because there's a lot more of them out there now.
Paula Begoun: Well, I think that, or she could have run into -- I run into hairstylists. This is one of my favorite things.
00:35:02 There is this new thing that hairstylists are telling you that silicones are bad, they're dangerous for you.
Bryan Barron: Yes.
Paula Begoun: And the truth is that you can try…
Bryan Barron: I don't know why, Paula. For some reason the anti-silicone…
Paula Begoun: Crowd?
Bryan Barron: …crowd tends to be centered around women with curly hair. There seems to be some connection between silicones just being the evil enemy of anyone with naturally curly hair.
Paula Begoun: Well, I don't get it, because, well, first of all, silicones aren't dangerous. They came around in the ‘80s.
00:35:37 The development of silicones -- silicones aren't an oil, they're actually from a chemistry point of view fluids. They feel like silk. They make hair feel like silk. Oils make hair feel greasy. So, plant oils in hair care products tend to weigh hair down. If you want to use plant oils, they are only really recommended when you have thick, coarse, heavy hair.
00:36:07 I mean, thick hair that's dry and you don't mind weighing it down. Because if you were to feel a silicone and you were to feel plant oil, one is greasy and the other one isn't.
Bryan Barron: Sure. Particularly coconut oil. Coconut oil, because coconut is a semi-solid at room temperature. And to get it down to an oil, it's greasy.
Paula Begoun: It's greasy. I mean, it's not that that's bad, but for hair that you don't want to look greasy, it's a problem.
00:36:34 And it doesn't feel like silk. Silicones feel like silk.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. Shannon says, "Why is it so hard to find unscented hair care products, especially for styling? The only thing I've found remotely useful is Pantene's Unscented Hairspray, yet that can only do so much."
Paula Begoun: Because you're one of the few women in the world that like fragrance-free products.
00:37:02 Women love, even for skincare, love fragrance in products. It's very hard to convince a woman that fragrance, particularly in skincare products, is a problem. In hair care products when you're just putting it on the dead part of your hair, it's not a problem. It's a problem when it gets on the scalp because then it can be an irritant and you can get itching. But, overwhelmingly women like the way a nice product smells. I get it. I like when things smell nice, too.
00:37:30 But there's no way around it. It's almost impossible. The first thing women do, you see it all the time at the drugstore, even before they bought the product they screw off the top…
Bryan Barron: And they smell it.
Paula Begoun: …and they smell it. So, that's why you're not seeing it very often. In fact, at Paula's Choice we're one of the few companies that have a conditioner and a shampoo that are fragrance-free. All of our products are fragrance-free. They don't contain irritating fragrance ingredients. So, yes, they're hard to find.
00:38:00 Sorry, I wish it was different, but it's not.
Bryan Barron: Particularly the only line I know of that offers fragrance-free styling products that are actually pretty decent is the Free & Clear line. They're from a company called Pharmaceutical Specialties.
Paula Begoun: Oh, right, you have to buy that online. They're not very often in drugstores.
Bryan Barron: No, no. Maybe in a larger metropolitan area. Maybe behind the pharmacy counter. But they have a styling gel, I think they have a styling cream or a volumizing lotion, and a couple of hairsprays. They are 100% fragrance-free.
00:38:31 I can't personally vouch for them, but the formulas on paper look pretty good. Definitely worth a try.
Paula Begoun: Well, definitely fragrance-free. That's what she's looking for.
Bryan Barron: Let's take one more question here from Lorena. She wants to know how often does she have to cut the ends of her hair so it will look healthier.
Paula Begoun: Well, when they start looking unhealthy. There really isn't a prescribed period of time. A lot of whether or not your ends are looking frayed and getting tired looking has a lot to do with the kind of hair cut you have.
00:39:07 And also has a lot to do with how damaged in terms of how much you dye your hair. Extreme hair color changes are always damaging and can fray ends, again, because your hair color down there has been around the longest. And hairstyling, high heat, and also, again, it depends on your hair cut.
00:39:28 So, there isn't a prescribed time. When they start looking raggedy, go in and get a trim. That's absolutely the time to do it. Are we done? Is that all the questions we have time for today?
Bryan Barron: We could probably take one more.
Paula Begoun: Okay, one more.
Bryan Barron: A few more. This is a brand we get asked about a lot. This is a question from Theresa. And several other women in our Facebook group here asked about dealing with finer, thin hair. But Theresa wanted to know, "What do you think of Nioxin hair products for thin hair? It's sold at the hairdressers."
00:40:02 I don't have a high opinion of it.
Paula Begoun: Well, because it doesn't... -- So, other than minoxidil, there is no research showing that you get hair growth with any other ingredient. And Nioxin just doesn't contain anything with peer-reviewed, independent research that says it grows hair. I know you can run into a lot of testimonials on the internet about it, but in terms of research, published research, the products don't contain anything that is known to grow hair.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. I would say it's not that Nioxin's formulas are bad.
00:40:47 I just don't think…
Paula Begoun: No, no, they're not bad.
Bryan Barron: They're misleading. And they're definitely a line that tries to get, I mean, first of all, if you're experiencing any amount of hair loss or thinning hair, particularly if you once had full thick hair, it can be devastating. It is a huge self-esteem issue, especially for a woman.
00:41:07 And it always happens at the time when you're dealing with other signs of aging, too.
Paula Begoun: Of course.
Bryan Barron: It's like, geez, if it's not one thing, it's another. When it rains it pours. What you want to be careful of with Nioxin is the sales pitch that in order for one product to work you have to use the whole system. I see it boxed up in little sets all the time. It's not like sets of products can be a problem, but in the case of Nioxin it's a way for them to get you to spend more money.
Paula Begoun: Right.
00:41:33 Because you don't need the shampoo and conditioner. Even if it had ingredients that could, you know, grow hair like minoxidil, you'd be rinsing it down the drain.
Bryan Barron: So, for those women out there who are dealing with thinning, fine hair, and your hairdresser sells Nioxin or may be pushing Nioxin, and you're curious about it, ask them which one or two products that they feel would make the biggest impact. And hopefully they will suggest one of their styling products and not one of their shampoos.
00:42:02 You can pretty much bank that anything that you're going to rinse off isn't going to do much.
Paula Begoun: Isn't going to do…well, and again, just haven't seen anything in the research that what their products contain grow hair.
Bryan Barron: Right.
Paula Begoun: I would always start with minoxidil. Always start with minoxidil.
Bryan Barron: And women can take Propecia, past child-bearing age.
Paula Begoun: They can, but you really do want to make sure you check that out with your physician. But, yeah, there's research that shows that's just fine.
00:42:29 So, this has been Paula Begoun and Bryan Barron, a part of the Paula's Choice Research Team, "Keeping you Beautifully Informed." You can always check our website, and to listen to other archived shows. But, stay tuned and check back frequently because we will have a lot of shows up there talking about skincare, and hair care, and makeup. And we love keeping you beautifully informed. Come visit us at
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