Not everybody can afford shampoo and conditioner that costs more than an hour (or more) of minimum wage pay. Thankfully, there are a variety of budget-friendly options available at the drugstore. Navigating the plethora of options however, can definitely be tricky, so it’s important to keep in mind a few general rules.
1. Know your hair type and it’s specific needs
This is by far the most important piece of advice to consider, and surprisingly not common knowledge. If you’re unsure about the type of hair that you have or what it’s specific needs may be (lackluster, damaged, dry..), I would advise going to see a professional to have your hair assessed. You can go in for a consultation at most respectable salons for free and they will break it all down for you.
2. Keep to your budget
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but you’re going to have to remind yourself to stay on budget. If you’re anything like me, this can actually be a tough one because generally speaking, the prettier the packaging, the bigger the price tag.
3. Read the label
I know this can seem like a waste of time, but it’s important to know what you’re putting on your hair. If you have color treated hair for instance, you’re going to want to look for shampoo that specifically says “sulfate-free” to avoid stripping your color. You’re also going to want to be careful to avoid products that contain heavy waxes, which coat the hair over time. Because most drugstore brand shampoos use fairly heavy duty detergents, the conditioners are designed to mask that by containing waxes to coat the hair.
*Major offenders: TRESemmé and Pantene
**I used to use the L’Oréal EverCrème Sulfate-Free conditioner until I found out that it coated my hair with such a thick layer of wax that my hair stylist could visibly scrape it off and show me. Just goes to show that even though a product might be “sulfate-free”, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “wax-free”.
4. Be prepared to go through a few bottles before you find the right one
Finding the right budget friendly shampoo and conditioner can certainly be a process. In many ways, it ends up coming down to trial and error. You might try something, really love it for a few washes, but end up hating it by the end of the bottle.
My favorite shampoo and conditioner on a budget is the Herbel Essences Smooth Collection. It smells like roses and comes in pretty pink packaging. It’s been around for awhile, and it’s definitely a classic. Dove is another brand that makes affordable, ethical, quality products, so that’s a pretty safe bet in my books. In the mid-range category, Live Clean and Klorane also makes really great, natural-based products. Finally, if all else fails, go for baby shampoo! If it’s gentle enough for a baby, it’s gentle enough for you too!