Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I need to talk about shampoo. Last time I had my haircut, I was scolded (though nicely, because my stylist is very sweet) for using Pantene shampoo and conditioner. I’ve been using Pantene off and on for a long time now. Recently, I’ve been using it because they sell massive bottles of it at Costco for really cheap, and I’m broke.

Pantene always gets written up in fashion mags as the best shampoo, it seems like it is advertised everywhere and that everyone uses it. So I was really surprised when after asking me what shampoo I’ve been using, my stylist squeezed my hair in her fingers and said “yup, I knew it was Pantene, I can feel it”. She assured me that I did not have to buy any of the expensive luxury salon products, but that I should be able to find inexpensive alternatives at the drugstore. She also suggested I use a clarifying shampoo to get out all the residue Pantene had apparently left behind.

Well, I did stop using my Pantene, and I even went out and spent money on some new fancy shampoos excited that maybe my hair would finally be tamed and less frizzy. I used my clarifying shampoo, and then my new expensive ones too, but despite my hair being softer, I can’t say that it made a huge difference, all of which led me to wonder, does shampoo really matter?

I trust my stylist, and I’m pretty sure she was correct that my hair was feeling waxy and weighed down, but I also have really thick hair that soaks up everything, so I think that’s why Pantene wasn’t working for me. She mentioned that Pantene isn’t so bad for thinner, less coarse hair. My real question is, what is the difference between an $8 bottle of shampoo and a $25 bottle? I’ve learned that it’s worth it to pay more for certain eye creams or hair styling products, but I’ve always thought that shampoo was mostly just shampoo, I’ve tried tons of them and never really noticed an obvious difference in what my hair looked like in the end.

My stylist recommended Sebastian Drench shampoo and conditioner, and I obligingly bought it. 

Did I expect a miraculous change? Of course. Did I get one? No. It’s ridiculous how excited we get over something so silly. I actually thought using this shampoo was going to completely change not just my hair, but my look, and my confidence all in just one washing. I don’t think I’ve ever found a product that was able to do all that for me, because it’s never that simple.

There are products that I love that I might even say I can’t live without, and I would be devastated to find any of them discontinued, but I would be lying to myself, and also not giving myself enough credit, if I really believed they were solely responsible for my confidence. The Sebastian shampoo is good, it smells nice, it’s a bit pricey at $14 for a 250 ml bottle and I haven’t decided if I would buy it again. Obviously being unimpressed by one shampoo didn’t stop me from continuing to look for a better one.

I tried going back to using Lush shampoo bars, which I really do love, sadly they get a little messy in my shower, but they’re a really great stand-by and smell amazing. If you haven’t tried them I totally recommend that you do, especially the Ultimate Shine Solid Shampoo Bar, $9.95 at

A few weeks ago I was psyched to find that Costco (are you starting to notice I’m obsessed with Costco?) was carrying a Frederick Fekkai glossing set. I had always wanted to try his shampoo, but at $25 each for shampoo and conditioner, it was always way too pricey. The Costco set has a bottle of each, plus a tube of glossing creme (which I already use and love) so I bought it. I used it. and I have to say, it was pretty good. My hair felt really soft and glossy. Unfortunately it made my hair (which is usually pretty dry) greasy after the second day. I usually only wash my hair 2-3 times a week, so that was a little disappointing. It is a good product though, and I am contemplating going back to Costco and stocking up before they stop selling them, because I know I’ll never be able to bring myself to spend the full $50 to buy them again.

So now I’m back at square one, no idea what to wash my hair with, no idea if it even matters. I feel silly for even writing this post, but I do it in the hopes that I’m not the only one who frets over my shampoo. I want to have healthy hair, I love my hair, I’m willing to put time and (some) money into it. I just get sick of all the promises, all the excitement and then the let down when it always looks the same. Obviously if I had more confidence maybe I wouldn’t care so much, so I’ll be working on that too. I know that I’ll never stop looking for that magical shampoo though, the one that creates perfect, glossy, frizz-less waves, it might be as mythic as El Dorado, but my quest will never cease.

On a more fulfilling cosmetics note, my lovely soon-to-be sister-in-law Alison, got me an adorable little present. It’s mini bottles of the new summer Essie line, YAY! Un-like shampoo, I know that I can use these guys and see an obvious result!

From left to right, Knockout Pout, Pretty Edgy, Demure Vixen and Haute as Hello.

Thanks Alison! Can’t wait to try them all!

Ok, so I really want to hear what shampoo people use, seriously, let me know, I’m at a loss! Does anyone have one that they swear by? Suggestions, stories? Am I the only one who loves Costco? Let me know!



Filed under hair

14 responses to “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

  1. Megan

    The Ultimate Shine Bar is my favorite shampoo, but I like a lot of the other Lush bars as well. What I like about the shampoo bars is that they are relatively inexpensive (a $10 bar lasts a loooong time) and very environmentally friendly. Lush uses mostly organic and sustainable ingredients, they are much more efficient to transport (i.e. smaller carbon footprint) and they have virtually no packaging. Also, they are fantastic for getting around TSA carry on rules! In the end I don’t think it matters too much which shampoo you use – its really all just soap at the end of the day.

  2. Alison

    Justine, you’re not alone! I’m always buying new shampoo with the dream that my thin lackluster locks will be transformed to its former glory….which ofcourse is never the case, I can’t use pantene at all, it weighs my hair down and guarantees a greasy mane by noon. I use a clarifying shampoo biweekly, origins has one I like and so does mop…I don’t have a favorite shampoo or conditioner at the moment,I am currently working through an arsenal of shampoos I have bought and rejected….once they are through my quest will continue!

    PS I’m delighted you like the nail Polish! Enjoy it!

    Also..u have the most beautiful hair! Whenever people ask about James fiance I always mention your gorgeous locks!

  3. lizzy

    you know how i feel about this. i’m obsessed with good hair but i’m too lazy/ADD to actually do anything about mine. as you know, i got the brazilian hair protein treatment, and it actually worked pretty good. my lady told me to use sulfate and sodium chloride free shampoo, and i actually think it helps my frizziness.
    what about that water filter you can get thats supposed to make your hair better? thoughts?

  4. haren

    Years ago you were supposed to put eggs in your hair to make it silky and rinse it with vinegar to make it shiny. Those are both cheaper than those pricey shampoos. Maybe they work.

  5. Sarah

    You might have the most beautiful hair of anyone I know. As a matter of fact, I vaguely remember my mom touching your hair, probably more than once, just to know what gorgeous, thick locks like yours felt like… apologies for any uncomfortable feelings that may have caused 🙂
    Now, I gotta say I’m on the same quest for that magic hair product that will get me that soft, thick, shiny hair that moves in slow motion. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist…and yet, I continue to fall victim to the pretty bottle of hair goop. Anyway, if there is a life-changing hair product out there, I don’t think it would be a shampoo. I’m thinking it’s some sort of spray, gel, mousse, or serum. I’m sure you’ll be blogging about those at some point though….at least I hope so!

    • Haha! Sarah, no uncomfortable feelings, I probably creepily told you and your mom both that you were really pretty, I know I told her she looked like Janet Jackson once too. I’m sure I appreciated the compliment then and still do! My biggest hair care epiphanies have come from things like “don’t was your hair everyday” or “don’t brush it unless it’s wet”, and companies cannot sell me those revelations, so I like to hope that any magic product won’t be so much a product as a sudden realization. Of course, that won’t stop me from buying products, because you never know! I will most definitely be posting about sprays and serums and mousses, I think they have a much bigger effect on hair than shampoo, thank god.

  6. A few years ago I had some friends telling me about a miraculous treatment that would rejuvenate my hair. It was called “not washing it”. They told me that your hair needs those “natural oils” and that shampoo’s wash them away. I gave it a couple of tries. I found that not washing my hair for a few days/up to a week left me with a very distinctive oily sheen (not a Charlie Sheen which would have been preferable). I just wash my hair with whatever is around, I don’t even care. I wish shampoo was edible. The end.

  7. alison

    James, not washing your hair is a terrible idea if you have oily strands….you willl end up clogging the pores in your head! Go eat Justines unused Pantene!

  8. sara

    I also love the Lush solid shampoo bars!

    Lately I’ve been using the new Aveeno shampoo. I don’t like it much, though. It makes my hair greasy after 1 day. Not cool.
    I really, really like the Suave Professionals line. I can use both shampoo and conditioner and it doesn’t get too greasy or weighed down.
    WHEN I have money to blow I get Tigi Bedhead in Superstar. It’s the best volumizing shampoo I’ve ever used (and it smells like Pop Rocks!). In fact, I found a huge bottle of it tonight at Marshall’s for only $13…but then looked closer and realized it was just the conditioner. It’s always a crapshoot there anyway.

    I love the nail polish colors!

    • I haven’t been too thrilled with the Aveeno hair products either, I like their moisturizers though. I will have to try out the Suave professionals line, thanks for the recommendation. I like bedhead products too, they always smell like candy!

  9. alison

    i have to go and find the super star shampoo..Pop Rocks…can I possibly live without a shampoo that smells like pop rocks..I think not…hoooot!

  10. Pingback: Live a Lush Life « beauty dart

  11. joanne

    In response to your “exercise-slump”….I too DETEST exercising but with a reliable partner you will always be motivated…mine is one sloppy, overly-happy, annoyingly-friendly, hairy one named Holli (my 60+ pound yellow lab)…try it ..get a dog…you will forever be motivated as they NEVER tire of a good brisk walk!!!!

    • Getting a dog does sound like a great way to motivate exercise, unfortunately I don’t think my cats would like if I got a dog, one of them is still getting used to people it sees on a regular basis. I’ve contemplated walking my cats, but I know they would just lay down on the sidewalk because they’re about as motivated about exercise as I am.

      I do think it’s totally true that having a friend with you helps, I miss going to yoga with my buddy from work, it’s way more fun when you have someone to laugh with!

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