Keep your Hair Looking Great without Breaking the Bank


by Rachel Ramirez

You used to use salon brand shampoos, conditioners and styling products on a regular basis, but lately you need to conserve and spend wisely, i.e. follow a budget.  Now the question becomes, can you still get quality hair products on a budget?  Yes, if you know which ingredients to look for.  When reading labels, make sure they have similar or matching ingredients that are used in salon based products.  These can include:

  • Fine hair – wheat proteins (to help thicken), and if possible, hydrolyzed keratin.  Also look for the phrase “helps increase the diameter of the follicle.”
  • Oily hair – tea tree oil, lemon or thyme.
  • Dry, coarse hair – shea butter, olive oil, avocado or with a vitamin E base, such as almond oil or sesame.
  • Color treated hair – definitely look for products created for color-treated hair, especially shampoos, which won’t create excessive suds that may lift the color out of the cortex of the hairs. 
  • Curly hair – same ingredients as with dry hair, but also look for soy, macadamia and wheat (for fine curls).

There are various price friendly ways to maintain and improve the condition of hair, and some can be done daily for no cost.  For deep conditioning treatments, you can get creative and become inspired by products in the kitchen cupboard or refrigerator!  Foods such as olive oil, avocado, yogurt or coconut juice can help repair and add shine, while apple cider is effective as a rinse to balance the pH of hair and scalp.  Olive oil is a versatile item that can be used as a repair treatment or a leave-in product for all hair types, just use accordingly to hair type and texture. As a repair treatment, massage into scalp and ends before (approximately 1 teaspoon for fine hair, but can be more liberal for thicker, drier hair) shampooing out and following with regular, rinse out conditioner.  For finer hair, leave in approximately 20 minutes before shampooing out, while drier, thicker hair can leave it in overnight before shampooing out.  Another option is to use vitamin E capsules, which can be purchased at drugstores or vitamin shops.  Take a capsule and apply the liquid to scalp and ends, then shampoo out and condition accordingly.  To help strengthen hair internally and speed up hair growth, as well as benefit skin, nails and joints, take a daily collagen supplement, which can also be purchased at vitamin shops and are a reasonable price point – a 60-90 day supply usually costs between $8-16.  Also, a great, no cost treatment is a daily scalp massage. Using clean, dry fingertips (avoid using the nails), massage in circular motions for one minute to increase circulation (which helps with cell turnover) and help loosen dead skin cells that may build up and block follicles.

If your budget allows for at least one or a few salon products, consider a shampoo and leave-in treatment.  Most salon shampoos have a lower pH than drugstore brands, and some can even pH balance and clean the scalp as well as treat the ends. Leave-in treatments, especially for dry, coarse or color-treat hair, will have the highest amount of hydrating and repairing ingredients, as opposed to a conditioner, which will only sit on the hair for a few minutes before being rinsed out.  Also, look for salon products that come in sets, since for one price point, you can use a regimen for approximately 30-40 days.  Also, check Internet websites that offer free samples of products.

Some products you don’t have to spend a whole lot include:

  • Hairspray
  • Gel
  • Pomades
  • Dry shampoos – baby powder will do in a pinch, but they don’t have the starches like most dry shampoos.  However, you can still find a good price point on this product.
  • Accessories, including combs, headbands, elastic ponytail holders and clips.
If you want to splurge, here are a few of our top picks:

If you want to splurge, here are a few of our top picks: