Blog image

When you ask your client what shampoo they use on their immaculately cut and coloured hair, you might sometimes feel like crying at the answer! Considering clients are willing to pay to have you make their hair look its best, it can be surprising to hear how little thought they put into buying a good shampoo and conditioner to maintain it.

However, we do understand – the lack of knowledge about shampoo ingredients, how they can damage the hair and the benefits of using a good salon shampoo all need to be highlighted to prove to clients that they are worth the extra cost.

So, we’ve decided to step in and help!

We’ve put together a cheat sheet of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to ‘shampoo nasties’, plus recommend our top salon shampoos you can retail to clients.

Are Salon Shampoos Really Better for Hair?

When your salon retail shampoo costs ten times the amount of one you can buy in a supermarket, you might find it hard to convince your clients it is worth the investment in professional hair care.

But the truth is that salon shampoos really are better for the hair.

There are a number of ‘nasties’ that can be found in shampoos. These ingredients might be effective in cleaning the hair of dirt and oils but can often lead to damage and scalp complaints if they are too strong.

Some of the main chemicals and ingredients now being avoided in salon shampoos are:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.
  • Silicones.
  • Sodium Chloride.
  • Polyethene Glycol (PEG).
  • Mineral Oil.
  • Parabens.

Many professional salon shampoos are formulated without, or with less, of these chemicals and more of the good stuff. Salon shampoos contain a bigger proportion of high-grade ingredients that protect and nourish the hair and less of those that strip the hair of its natural strength.

Hair professional shampooing clients hair at backwash


So, let’s take a look at some of those unwanted shampoo ingredients to avoid and find out exactly what they do to the hair…

Why is Silicone Shampoo Bad?

Clients have probably heard about silicones in shampoos, but they might not understand why it isn’t the best ingredient to find in their shampoo.

Silicones are a type of mineral that are often used in shampoos and conditioners to make the hair feel soft and look shiny. While this does appear to tame frizz and split ends, this is only half the story!

As silicones act like a plastic, they coat the hair with a waterproof coating that actually keeps moisture out of your hair – not what we want for healthy locks! While hair may look shiny at first, with repeated use, the silicone will build up on strands over time, resulting in brittleness that makes the hair look dull.

What is SLS Free Shampoo?

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, or SLS, is a common ingredient in shampoos, soaps, and other cosmetic products. They are just one of many types of sulphates that are often used to produce the foam in shampoo that achieves that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling.

However, while your hair might feel fresh after a wash, it might also feel dry and brittle. This is because, along with that dirt, SLS will also strip away all of the natural oils in your hair. For those with sensitive skin, this can also irritate the scalp. A shampoo that is free from sulphates (SLS) uses a milder cleanser that isn’t as harsh, resulting in healthier hair that can retain its own protective oils.

Why Is Sodium Chloride Bad in Shampoo?

Commonly known as salt, sodium chloride is often used as a thickening ingredient in shampoos, so you get a manageable texture that can easily be distributed through the hair. However, it does have a downside. Sodium chloride attracts moisture, so it can again leave your hair feeling dry – especially if you are already experiencing dryness and need as much moisture as you can get!

What is PEG in Shampoo?

PEG – full name ‘ polyethene glycol’ – is another chemical used to improve the texture of shampoo. Again, this can be bad for hair, as this synthetic ingredient can be very harsh on the scalp and hair, leading to dryness.

Why is Mineral Oil Bad For Your Hair?

While plenty of oils are moisturising and nourishing for your hair, don’t be fooled into thinking that mineral oils is one of them. While it does act as a lubricant that can help detangle the hair and retain moisture inside it, mineral oil is sometimes used to ‘pad out’ the oil content of other, more expensive oils. So, if your shampoo says it contains argan oil, for example, but it is listed as one of the last ingredients in the list, it is likely mineral oil has been used as a cheaper way to dilute it.

Shampoo suds in palm of hand

What is the Benefit of Paraben-Free Shampoo?

There has been much discussion about the use of parabens in hair and beauty products. While they have been used for many decades to preserve shampoos and prevent them from growing any unpleasant bacteria, recent studies have shown that they can cause skin irritation and even hormone imbalances. For these reasons, many shampoo brands have chosen to go paraben-free, with plenty of consumers now preferring them.

The Best Salon Shampoos to recommend to and use on your clients

  1. OLAPLEX Shampoo.
  2. Pureology Shampoo.
  3. Redken Extreme Shampoo.
  4. Swarzkopf Professional Shampoo – Bonacure Shampoo.
  5. L’Oreal Professional Shampoo.
  6. Wella Professionals Shampoo.

Not in the trade? Check out our sister site Pampa for salon quality Shampoos and Conditioners available to the public.

OLAPLEX No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

OLAPLEX No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo



OLAPLEX is a range that has achieved cult status for strengthening hair by working at a molecular level to repair existing damage. Not only this, but they also offer a shampoo that can either maintain salon results or give any hair the care it deserves at home.

Along with being vegan and cruelty-free, OLAPLEX shampoo is free from some of the main ingredients to avoid, including parabens and sulphates.

Key Features

  • Removes build-up and excess oil.
  • Colour Safe formula to preserve the quality of colour to prevent fading and oxidisation.
  • Controls frizz by re-linking broken bonds.


Related: Everything You Need to Know About OLAPLEX

Pureology Shampoos

Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo



Pureology was one of the first hair care brands to remove unnecessary chemicals and ingredients from their shampoos, which are now all vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free and sulphate-free. In addition, the Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo is also free from silicones, while the whole range boasts its own unique anti-colour fading technology.

The result is a highly concentrated formula that provides better quality and surprising value for money that might help convince clients that it is worth their money.

Key Features

  • The thirst-quenching formula helps provide superior moisture, touchable softness and extraordinary colour protection for fine hair.
  • An aromatherapy blend of Lavender, Bergamot, and Patchouli


Related: Why Is Pureology So Good for Hair?


 Redken Extreme Shampoo



The Redken hair care brand dates back to the late 1950s when Hollywood actress Paula Kent joined forces with her hairdresser to find products based on the real chemistry of hair. Their discovery was obviously a big one, as Redken still produces some of the best salon shampoos available!

Redken Extreme Shampoo is perfect for hair that has been damaged by shampoo ‘nasties’ in the past. It uses its own protein complex to rebuild damage and leave hair feeling healthy, shiny and smooth again.

Key Features

  • Formulated with Redken’s Strength Complex, which contains Amino Acids and Arginine to strengthen and fortify the hair and Citric Acid to condition and add smoothness.
  • Cleanses strengthen hair and restore shine.
  • It helps fortify weakened areas of the hair.


Related: Everything you need to know about Redken


woman getting her hair shampooed at backwash


Bonacure Hyaluronic Moisture Kick Micellar Shampoo

Bonacure Moisture Kick Shampoo 250ml by Schwarzkopf




Another brilliant budget shampoo for clients, the Bonacure Hyaluronic Moisture Kick Shampoo features a silicone-free formula that helps prevent hair dehydration by binding moisture to each strand.

While gently cleansing the scalp, hair that is dry, brittle, coarse or slightly porous is revived, preventing future breakage by up to 95%.

Key Features

  • Gently cleanses normal to dry hair types.
  • Rebalance the hair’s moisture level.
  • Forty-eight hours of moisturisation to hydrate hair and improve elasticity.


L’Oreal Professional Shampoo

Serie Expert Scalp Advanced Anti-Dandruff Dermo Clarifier Shampoo



Introducing the Serie Expert Scalp Advanced Anti-Dandruff Dermo Clarifier Shampoo, a gentle and lightweight cream formulated to clarify hair and scalp.

This innovative shampoo effectively eliminates dry and oily dandruff while providing a soothing sensation to the scalp.

Key Features:

  • Visible dandruff removal of up to 100% from the first application*.
  • Offers up to 72 hours of dandruff protection.
  • Enriched with Piroctone Olamine, a powerful antibacterial and antifungal active ingredient.

*Based on a clinical test conducted on 44 subjects, with three applications per week. **Results obtained from a clinical test.


Related: How To Treat Your Client’s Dryness and Irritation With L’Oréal Scalp Advanced



Wella Professionals Shampoo

Wella Professionals INVIGO Balance Aqua Pure Purifying Shampoo



Discover the refreshing power of Wella Professionals INVIGO Balance Aqua Pure Purifying Shampoo. This invigorating shampoo, enriched with Lotus Extract, delivers a super fresh and clean sensation to the scalp while effectively purifying the hair and eliminating residual impurities and pollutants.

Key Features

  • Lotus Extract, Menthol and Allantoin revitalise the scalp and hair for fresh, beautiful hair.


To Summarise

The careful selection of ingredients in professional shampoos are made to address specific hair concerns, whether it’s dryness, damage, colour preservation, or scalp issues. The formulations are often enriched with nourishing vitamins, minerals, and botanical extracts, providing deep cleansing, hydration, and protection to the hair and scalp. Moreover, professional shampoos undergo rigorous testing and research to ensure their effectiveness, safety, and long-term benefits.

By investing in professional shampoos, you can trust that your client’s hair will receive the optimal care it deserves, resulting in healthier, more lustrous locks.



Not in the trade? Check out our sister site Pampa for salon quality Shampoos and Conditioners available to the public.

Discover the Salons Direct blog, your trusted source for industry news, product releases, how-to guides and more!

More hair-related content

You may also enjoy…

Hair Cycling: What Is It And How To Recommend To Your Clients | Everything You Need To Know About Skinification Of Hair

Hair Types Explained: Determining Your Client’s Hair Type | Everything You Need To Know About ‘Curl Wow’ By Color Wow


Follow Salons Direct on Insta

Watch Salons Direct on TikTok