General Question

jsc3791's avatar

Do generic shampoos and detergents differ much from name brands?

Asked by jsc3791 (1973 points ) September 17th, 2012

I’m on a tight budget, and shop a lot at the Dollar Tree. I buy almost anything there, including shampoo and conditioner and laundry detergent. So far, it has been quite economical. But it has me wondering if the generics, specifically shampoo and laundry detergent, are of a lesser quality than the name brands. Will the shampoo damage my hair? Or will the laundry detergent not really clean my clothes as well as, say, Tide?

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31 Answers

kbeck527's avatar

If all are drug store quality then no. But if you are comparing Pantene to Redken, yes! A lot of the drug store varieties will use additional fillers that can be damaging to your hair like alcohols or sulfites, and the pH will be more damaging as well. Beware though, some ritzy brands will try to use the same tricks. Your best bet is to read the labels and go with a reputable brand i.e. Aveda, Biolage, Redken, etc. You can always ask your stylist what they recommend as well.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yeah. Dollar store shampoo is going to be different from Pantene and Herbal Essances, which is going to be different from salon-quality stuff like Biolage and Bumble & bumble. Same for laundry detergent. Now, maybe that difference isn’t as big to you as the savings. I’ve saved quite a bit of money by buying really large things of Pantene and Tide at stores like Big Lots.

Taciturnu's avatar

What @kbeck527 said… except that I have to add that you can’t purchase salon products at a pharmacy. They aren’t actually the same product, or they are but are expired. It’s called diversion. And pantene is absolutely not good for your hair. People love how it feels because it is made with floor wax and “fills in” damage while creating a hard to break wax barrier.

JLeslie's avatar

I buy Herbal Essence and I like it better than any very expensive shampoo I have tried. The really cheapy shampoos and conditioners I have tried are terrible. Stuff like Suave, really bad.

Laundry detergent I often buy Wisk or Purex, which is fairly inexpensive. I don’t know abut the dollar store stuff. Tide is about twice the price, and it does have more detergents frim what I understand, but if you aren’t getting your clothes very sweaty dirty I can’t see a reason to need it. In fact at the store I worked at we recommended not using Tide on dark clothing.

creative1's avatar

I find I use less of the salon shampoo than what I bought in the drug store which in the end makes it comparable in price. I also purchase it at Lords & Lady’s salon where the brand names have better prices making it better.

I also noticed using the salon brand my hair don’t feel like plastic like it did using the drug store stuff.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, there’s a difference. I used to not think so, but I’ve noticed when I regularly use a “nicer” shampoo and conditioner, that my hair is much more healthy and much softer. That’s a huge thing for me, because my hair is naturally curly and very, very coarse. I’ve been using Biolage and Nexxus products.

When it comes to detergents, there is also a difference. The super cheap ones can really damage your clothes.

YARNLADY's avatar

Many times the salon products are better, but not the drug store brands. What I have discovered, you can use a much smaller amount each time with the salon products, so it actually does not cost much more.

cazzie's avatar

I noticed quite a few name brands at the Dollar Store when I was in the US a few summers ago. I don’t know about laundry detergents there, but I thought they had some decent shampoos there. If you find one type too drying, look for a brand that has Ammonium Laureth Sulfate as its cleaning ingredient rather than Sodium Laureth (or the nastier Laurel) Sulfate and some that list some type of oil a little further down in the ingredients list. I know it can be hard because they are listed with their INCI names, but if you educate yourself a bit and learn the name for sunflower oil (helianthus annuus) or almond oil (prunus amygdalus dulcis), you can learn a bit more about what you are buying.

Stay away from those 2 in 1 cheapie products. They may seem to save you money, but they are really bad for your hair.

As a way of saving where I live, I have tried to buy off brand laundry detergent, but our skin is so very sensitive, especially my son and it never seems to clean the clothes as well. I simply buy the larger boxes of the good brands we don’t react to and my per load price drops down to the off-brand price. It is something I use all the time and it doesn’t spoil, so, sure… I have to carry and haul the damn thing home, but it saves me money and hassle in the end.

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Sarah90's avatar

I would not waste my money with detergent or shampoo from the dollar store,most of it is severely watered down therefore you end up using 3X as much, as far a detergent Tide is the best value,try doing a load not with the recommended capful but with 1~2 teaspoons of detergent. Store brands like Target’s Up & Up are just as good and a bit cheaper specially when bough in large containers.
Shampoo…remember what Nanas would do,make a mixture of half water, half detergent…Well, it performs just as good and saves money,

cazzie's avatar

@Sarah90 are you suggesting that she take laundry detergent and mix it half and half and use it on her hair?

Sarah90's avatar

@cazzie,,,,, no I meant shampoo… I was multi-tasking when I typed that answer !
Don’t use detergent on your head,you’ll go bald !!

KNOWITALL's avatar

My hair-dresser said as long as you use a great conditioner the shampoo isn’t a big deal, works for me.

rojo's avatar

I have tried the discount and the salon style and things in between and not a single one of them has made my normally frizzy hair toss and flow like the models on tv. I will continue my search, the “search for the holy Prell” that is my quest.

JLeslie's avatar

@rojo Is it thin and frizzy? Or, thick? Curly? Straight?

rojo's avatar

Thin, wavy and frizzy at this point in my life. Used to be thick, wavy and frizzy. Such is life.

JLeslie's avatar

@rojo I use Hebral Essence smoothing shampoo and conditioner, it is in an organe bottle. I never would have picked it myself because my hair goes flat to readily, but my curly haired husband bought it to reduce his curls. It reduces friz in my opinion, and it helps my hair which is usually very dry.

If your hair has become much thinner and dryer you might consider it could be caused by a thyroid problem. Not necessarily of course, but that is a symptom.

Also, chemically straightening your hair or using a hair straightner (like a curling iron) should make your hair look smoother.

Lastly, Biolage Shampoo is fantastic on my hair, but I am allergic to it, so I can’t use it.

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie the basis of my thinning hair is age I am afraid although I have just recently, after almost two years, recovered from poisoning it with some kind of lice killing shampoo (young grandaughter) that caused it to come out en-masse every time I brushed. Never again, I’ll live with the bugs.
My daughter suggested Garnier Fructose? Fructine? (or whatever) but it did not make any difference and neither did the Pantene my wife uses.
I will give the Herbal Essence a try. Thank you.
Until I find out if it works I will just work on the “head toss” and over the shoulder come-hither look.. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@rojo two years? For future, you can have a professional address the lice problem and get rid of it in a few weeks. I have never had lice, but I know from friends you have to wash everythng constantly for a couple weeks. Sheets every other day, and do the treatment several times in your hair at the right intervals. I had one friend who wound up cuttng off most of her step daughters gorgeous locks to get rid of it. Too difficult to treat a lot of hair.

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie to clarify, the lice were eliminated within a few days but the aftereffects of using what is tantamount to a poison as a shampoo to kill the little buggers were extreme. As I mentioned, the hair came out and that, along with the durn age thing, has meant it took me almost two years to get back close to where I was hairwise. Next time it will be the shaving and picking method for me.

rojo's avatar

Sorry to hijack this thread. We find that you can get name brand soaps, shampoos and detergents in the dollar store. I assume that they are the same as the ones in the grocery store? and so, that is what we buy most of the time.

jsc3791's avatar

No worries, @rojo ! That’s one of the things I love about Fluther…stream on consciousness leads us into fun and interesting places!

Taciturnu's avatar

@JLeslie just a warning about h.e. smoothing shampoo… it contains a relaxer, and I would stop using it for two weeks prior to having color done. We had a girl come into the salon and herf highlights melted off, even on virgin hair.

Taciturnu's avatar

@rojo try nioxin (designed to be gentle for thinning hair and can be purchased at procuts.) Also love pravanas line for thinning hair. It would be a little investmennt, but you could seek out a texturizing treatment at a salon or a repairing keratin… not the smoothing type. For

Paul Mitchell has an awesome keratriplex treatment.

JLeslie's avatar

@Taciturnu Interesting. I have never had a problem, I am not sure what melted off means, but good to know, better safe than sorry. Although two weeks sounds excessive to me.

My hairdresser recommended nioxin also. I have never used it.

Taciturnu's avatar

@JLeslie two weeks is safe between a relaxer and a color treatment, which is why I say two weeks. The hair actually desintigrates. It’s kinda crazy to watch, but not so fun for the client. Lol.

JLeslie's avatar

@Taciturnu What chemical in the shampoo is the relaxer? I get highlights sometimes, I have never had a problem. I even perm my hair wavy sometimes, never a problem.

Taciturnu's avatar

@JLeslie sodium hydroxide.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks.

cazzie's avatar

If your hair is thinning, NEVER use a relaxant with sodium hydroxide in it. OMG…. worst thing you can do for your hair even if it is strong and healthy, but if you notice thinning. stop using chemical relaxants immediately.

JLeslie's avatar

I just looked at the ingredients and I don’t see sodium hydroxide in it. Plus, I was thinking, my hair still has it’s bit of wave if I let it dry naturally, like any other shampoo I use. The big difference is how dry or not it feels.

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