Hair Care for Less

by Jane Wangersky | January 13th, 2012 | Women's Beauty, Women's Fashion

Last time, I wrote about how you can spend a lot of money on skin care products without really doing your complexion much good. Sadly, the same is true of hair products. So how can you cut your hair care list down to the essentials and get the most for your money on them?

First, don’t skimp on what you really need. I’m talking about dandruff and similar embarrassing conditions. If you need to treat those, you do need to spend extra for specialty shampoos. That said, you don’t need to go for the heavy-duty medicated shampoos (the ones they sell in the pharmacy section, with serious-sounding ingredients like coal tar or selenium sulfide) unless the regular ones don’t work on you.

If ordinary shampoo is enough for you, then be aware that it’s essentially detergent. People have used dish washing liquid as shampoo with no ill effects. I’m not saying you should go that far, but don’t be too impressed by advertising claims of what various brands can do for your hair. You’re just looking for something to keep it clean, and that’s all you should pay for. The exception is two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, which will save you time and work.

Speaking of saving time, “lather-rinse-repeat” has become one of the bywords of our era — and not just in reference to washing hair — but it’s not really necessary. Once around should be enough. And use as little shampoo as you need to lather up your hair; there’ll be less to rinse out. Any shampoo that gets left in your hair is just a dirt magnet, which defeats the purpose.

Speaking of conditioner, here’s a tip I read in a book called Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends. As a substitute for leave-in treatments, just put regular conditioner in your hair and, well, leave it in. In fact, lately I’ve been using conditioner as a substitute for gel or hairspray (which I buy when I find some reduced for clearance, but seldom use because all that stuff is so goopy I feel I should wash it out as soon as the day is over).

One more way to save a little time is to towel-dry your hair with a microfiber cloth. When these are damp, they soak up a lot of water. You can wring them out and use them on your hair several times, and it’ll leave you with a lot less blow-drying to do. This also saves damage on your hair, which blow-drying unfortunately leads to. Just remember never to put your microfiber cloth in the dryer, which will destroy its absorbency. There are also special absorbent towels, though I haven’t tried those.

Great hair doesn’t have to cost a lot.

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