The Sneaky Truth About Professional Salon Hair Products Purchased at the Drugstore

Sadie Young
December 5, 2023

If you’re buying professional salon products from the grocery store you might want to read this. Okay, okay, okay! This is crazy and I had zero idea about this and maybe I’m just the last to know, but you should not be buying professional hair care products at a drugstore. But isn’t it the same as when you buy it at the salon? Isn’t it the same exact product? Yes, but also no. There’s a huge difference that really makes all the difference. Professional hair care products like Paul Mitchell, Redken, Matrix, etc. are ONLY guaranteed if purchased in a professional salon. The label literally states that. Yes, I’ve seen it. Yes, I’ve ignored it, but the warning is there for a reason because those drugstore professional products aren’t what you think they are.

The Grey Market

We all know the black market where all kinds of shady stuff goes down, but the grey market is a thing too and if you purchase professional hair care products from places like Walmart and Target, you’re affected by it.  Professional hair care companies do not sell their products to drug stores or grocery stores. When you buy from grocery stores, you are getting a product that is either long expired or counterfeit. Say, what? When these products appear outside of verified salons, it’s called diversion (a huge industry-wide problem) where goods are obtained and made available to the mass market. These companies go to extreme lengths to get these salon products, including: theft, liquidation, fraud, or breach of distribution contract. Sometimes, they even solicit salons and pay a premium (under the table with cash) then resell them to the grocery stores and drugstores. I don’t even know how half of this is even legal, which I guess, is why it’s called the grey market. Not exactly illegal, but far from ethical. Sheesh.

Unsafe to boot!

Aside from the sketchy way these companies are receiving these goods, the goods themselves aren’t worth it because you’re not getting what you paid for at all. In fact, they may even be harmful. Diverted professional hair care products can be counterfeit, diluted formulas, or old, expired formulas. Neither of which are worth the inflated price you’re paying for a product that isn’t even guaranteed! Yes, I said “inflated price.” You actually pay more for these products at the grocery store than you do at a salon! Prices can be marked up anywhere from $.05 to $5 on average and could even be more. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll take the safer, cheaper bet and just stick to buying my products at a salon or direct from the retail website.

There is a convenient alternative

If you don’t want to haul your butt to the salon every time you need new products, and you may or not be addicted to Amazon (it’s me), there are several salon professional products now verified on Amazon. Just make sure you are getting the products directly from the brand’s Amazon landing page instead of from some random seller.

Bottom Line

We’ve all done it, and I’m sure some of you have had experiences to back up the fact that grocery store bought professional products just aren’t the same, but now you (this is for me too) know the ugly grey truth. Skip the professional products aisle at the drugstore and just buy it from a salon.

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