General Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

What is the deal with salon products sold in grocery stores?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23293 points ) February 6th, 2011

I’ve always heard warnings from hairdressers not to purchase salon shampoos and products from grocery stores (or Walmart), and I’ve always wondered why. I’ve had multiple stylists tell me that they are not genuine products, but I don’t see how that is possible. I just don’t see major retailers selling shelves upon shelves of counterfeit hair products.

So is the issue that salon products are not guaranteed unless they are sold in a salon? Or are they really counterfeit?
And if it is that they are not guaranteed unless sold in a salon – why is that?

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32 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

The salon doesn’t get any money if you buy it at Safeway or Target. But they aren’t fakes. What exactly is the guarantee the salon is offering?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily I have no idea, but I think it even says that on the bottle. “Only guaranteed when purchased at a salon.” Something to that effect. I’m not talking about a specific salon, more like salon quality products. Paul Mitchell, for example. Just off the top of my head.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I’ve never seen that, but it might be that Paul Mitchell is only guaranteed at a Paul Mitchell salon, Aveda is only guaranteed at an Aveda salon, etc.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I know I didn’t imagine this. I’ve had this conversation with multiple stylists. Now I feel like I should Google what I’m thinking of.
Good point, though.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

“To ensure a full refund, you MUST have purchased the product from an authorized salon/spa. Redken can only guarantee the performance of our products when purchased through an AUTHORIZED salon/spa. If you have purchased any of our products from any of the following, we CANNOT guarantee that the products are within our standards and therefore will NOT be able to provide you with a refund.”

That was just the first one that came up in a search, but, apparently that’s what it is. I had a feeling that it was really unlikely that every grocery store in the area was selling counterfeit shampoo. lol.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I’m unsure as to how many stylists actually believe that the Bumble and bumble and TIGI and what have you at Target is actually fake, but there’s just no way Target and other corporations could stock those products – especially for a long time – without being sued by both the brands and the consumers.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily right. I just know a few stylists, personally, that have tried to tell me that. And it seemed so absurd that I had to ask.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Then that’s probably a legality thing – while it’s highly unlikely that Target is watering down their products, they don’t have any direct authority over Target the way Redken has over a Redken salon. At a Redken salon, they can just fire whomever screwed up.
There seem to be a lot of lies/old wives tales in the salon industry about products, many of them downright absurd (like that washing with Pantene will leave an inch of goop on each individual hair, which is more room than you have on your head for your hair…). Don’t really know where it all starts – the big business or the chemicals they work with all day??

augustlan's avatar

While there is that guarantee thing, I think it’s bullshit. I imagine that salon products used to only be sold in salons, and that when they expanded their market to grocery stores and the like, they instituted that policy because salon owners and hairstylists were pissed off about loosing some of their revenue stream. I think the product manufacturers did it to appease the salons. And the stylists aren’t worried one little bit that you’ll get hold of some inferior or counterfeit shampoo, they just want the commission they get if you buy it from them.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I agree totally with both of you. I think the whole thing is some twisted marketing hoax.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

It’s just like the Pantene freak out – as a general rule, if all I can find “proving” a point is a handful of personal blog posts buried in a Google search saying blank, I assume that it’s total crap – if it was real, at the very least a local news team would have done a piece on it, not to mention a documentary or a larger expose on it.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Also good to remember: you might not get Redken to give you a refund, but the retailer you bought it from probably will.

Austinlad's avatar

Salon or supermarket branded, all that stuff comes out of one giant pot somewhere.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily it hardly matters, anyhow. I use VO5 that costs 50 cents a bottle. ;)

cazzie's avatar

@Austinlad isn’t that far off. Most of those products are just highly scented Sodium Laureth Sulfate, with a few additives to make it less harsh on your hair and skin. I’ve tried non-sulfate hair shampoos but they didn’t leave my hair feeling clean at all.

@papayalily is completely right about getting a refund from Target or Walmart if there is something wrong with the product.

Salons and spas prey on people’s vanity. They want you to think if you don’t use their products or their services, your hair will go grey and fall out.

Buttonstc's avatar

It is total BS. the only thing I have noticed is that the manufacturers sometimes vary the size, package style and/or availability of certain items in the product line.

It’s all just marketing hype.

aprilsimnel's avatar

So if I use Pantene, my hair will appear thicker? ::trots off to CVS::

KatawaGrey's avatar

I wonder if the guarantee they’re talking about at salons is the guarantee that the product will do exactly what you want it to. If you guy a bottle of Paul Mitchell shampoo at Target, wash your hair with it, and don’t get the desired results, you can;t return it to Target unless it’s actively defective. You might be able to do that at a salon that is owned by Paul Mitchell though.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m not too sure about that. I’ve returned stuff to Target that had no defects at all but simply because I “tried it and realized I don’t like it”.

I’ve definitely returned Deodorant before for the simple reason that I couldn’t stand the way it smelled so I would imagine that with any type of product of that personal a nature (hair care) could be returned for similar reasons.

As long as one hasn’t used 99% of the bottle up, I can’t imagine them refusing a refund.

They generally follow the mantra of “the customer is always right EVEN WHEN they’re wrong” because they want your future business. It’s bad business practice to alienate a customer over a minor item like that.

The only time they draw the line is with those with a history of MUCH higher than average returns for every product under the sun. And even then, that person has to be a pretty egregious violator.

And this is not just Target but most major retailers and grocery stores as well. It’s a highly competitive environment and if it only takes less than twenty bucks (most haircare products) to keep a customer’s loyalty, they aren’t about to quibble about the return.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Buttonstc: Great. Now how about answering the questioning instead of just refuting my answer?

Buttonstc's avatar

I already did previously.

It wasn’t just your answer. Salon owners use that nonsense about no returns guaranteed unless purchased at their Salon to keep people away from purchasing elsewhere.

And that’s exactly what it is. Absolute nonsense.

Paul Mitchell won’t guarantee that Target will refund the money but he doesn’t have to. Target takes care of that themselves.

People should not be reluctant to buy at the lowest price they can find at whatever store they can find it. They shouldn’t have the (implied) threat hanging over their head that if they don’t buy at the Salon, then they can’t return it.

That was PRECISELY what the Q was about. People should be free to purchase wherever they feel comfortable doing so.

As long as it’s not a counterfeit or adulterated product that is being sold (a separate consideration) whether or not it is returnable should be a total non-issue. It shouldn’t even be a consideration in peoples decision making even tho the Salon owners would like to firmly implant the idea. It’s deceptive and unethical.

The only reason to purchase the product at the inflated price charged by the Salon is out of pity for the owner, not because someone caves in to the BS about non returns.

john65pennington's avatar

Here is a good comparison. WalMart rules the big store world and everybody know this. WalMart and the other stores will sell these products, but are they the same identical product?. buying tires at WalMart is a good example. you will see Michelin tires on sale at WalMart for a reduced price, compared to a regular tire store. why is this? WalMart tells Michelin to make a tire for them, at their specifications. usually, these specs are not the same as a genuine all-Michelin tire. this way, they(WalMart) can sell a tire at a much cheaper price. i have purchased tires from both WalMart and a tire-only store and there is a difference. the tire-only store tires were much better tires and lasted way past their mileage guarantee. the same applies to hair salon products.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’ve had hairdressers tell me the same thing- that I should buy my hair products directly from them. You know what? I use Redken and Biolage and Nexxus that I buy from my local grocery store and they all work just fine without any issues.

To compare- my hairdresser gave me a jar of Redken Rewind Pliable Styling Paste for my short curls. When I ran out, I bought the same thing at the grocery store for about $7 cheaper than the salon price. It’s the exact same thing.

As to the disclaimers about no refunds unless the product was purchased in a salon, I agree with whoever said you can still get a refund from the store you purchased it from.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have a girlfriend who is a hair dresser, and she did my hair for many years. She once commented on how thick and healthy it was, and asked what I used. I said, “The cheapest stuff I can find.” She was aghast. “No! You can’t do that! That will ruin your hair!” Left me scratching my head in puzzlement.
Same gal complimented me on my hair cut a couple of years ago, asked who cut it for me. My daughter chimed in , “Mom cuts her own hair!” Girlfriend was aghast again….she confuses me!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Dutchess_III that is actually what prompted me to ask this question. My neighbor and dear friend is a stylist, and she was coloring my hair for me last week. She was raving about how full and soft my hair was, and she asked what kind of products I use. I told about the 50 cent bottles of V05 and she told me the same thing, it would ruin my hair. She said my hair “might” do well on it for a while, but then it will be all downhill. I bit my tongue, figured it was senseless to tell her that I’ve been using it for years. :)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf @Dutchess_III OMG, they so will ruin your hair – don’t you know that gorgeous and healthy is just a silent symptom of cancer hair?!? ;D

Dutchess_III's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf…Do you think they really believe what they’re saying? Knowing my friend, yeah, I think she believed it….

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Yes, I do. I went to beauty school right after highschool, and they taught us the same thing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My goodness..

jkjkjkjkjkjkjk's avatar

The salons tell you not to buy the products at the grocery store because they will lose your business to the chain store. The ones at the chain stores are usually cheaper so the salons can make the products more expensive and people will still buy them. The whole ordeal is bullshit.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
nobody23's avatar

Hello
I’m a stylist and I just wanted to infrom you about the guarantee on pro product bottles(Paul Mitchell). it means when sold at a salon the product hasn’t been tampered with. basically means the actual bottle isnt a replica and the product inside hasn’t been diluted or otherwise tampered with because the salon buy directly from the supplier were as the grocery stores buy it from a third party.
On the price front I know in my area most supermarkets sell “pro” products at the same price or for more then we do at the salon.

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