Shampoo Economics

Youngest son asked me to buy him a different brand of shampoo. The one we had was “volumizing” and his thick, curly hair is self-volumizing. I sensed a teaching moment.

We went to Target and I asked him to find a shampoo that he thought would meet his needs. He looked up and down the aisle, overwhelmed and shrugged, “I don’t know.” I found a popular brand shampoo with a label indicating it would create “sleek and shine.” Would this one be OK? He shrugged, “Maybe.” It was $5 for 22 oz. I pulled off the shelf another shampoo from the same company that was intended for “volumizing.” I asked him to compare the ingredient list. They were almost identical. He said, “Maybe, I could get a man shampoo.”

I found a bottle of Head and Shoulders advertised for men. $7 for 23.7 oz. One shelf down was a bottle of Head and Shoulders-not gender specific. $7 for 23.7 oz.

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Exact same ingredients.

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Further down the aisle, I found 3 bottles of shampoo marked down for clearance. $0.67 for 15 oz. each. I opened the lids and let youngest son smell the fragrance. Would these be OK? “Yes.”

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He was such a good sport about it, I bought him a bag of potato chips.

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8 responses to “Shampoo Economics

  1. My only shampoo story is that many decades ago when my father was a young narcotics cop, he and his team investigated a shampoo manufacturer that was suspected of hiding large quantities of heroin on the premises. When he approached a man whose job was to blend the contents (he was making egg shampoo — very popular back then), my father mentioned that it was the brand my mother used and wanted to know just how many eggs were used in a bottle of shampoo. The man replied: “See this huge vat (gallons and gallons of shampoo), well, we just use one egg. By law, we just have to use one to claim it’s egg shampoo.” They never did find any heroin and my mother stopped using the shampoo and bought something cheaper and put her own eggs in it!

  2. Diane–too funny! I wonder what the mark-up on Heroin shampoo would be?

  3. I used to work for a fashion company that was selling clothes in various countries. The price level, different in every country, was decided depending on the competitors present on a specific national market. It was just a way to profile the brand and had nothing to do with the level of life in a certain country or the cost to produce these clothes. Ever since knowing that, I try to remind myself that an enormous portion of the pricetag of any product goes to the marketing department.

    However, for make-up, I often fall in the trap and buy a luxury brand (I very seldon buy make-up, maybe once every 3 year or so). I have not decided yet if it is just to enhance my ego or if the esthetics of the packaging truly embellish my daily life as I am sure the content is pretty similar.

    • I used to buy Canadian and American low to medium-end cosmetic brands until I read an article on how strick Europe is with their cosmetics regulations and that they ban a large number of carcinogenic ingredients that Canada and America allow in their products. So now I use European products only (my favourites are Chanel and Clarins). They cost more but I find they last longer.

      • Interesting. In fact, I heard something similar about sunscreen products. For long, products in the US only had UVA protection, not UVB (or is it the contrary…) while both UVA and UVB protection have been standard in Europe for a long time.

  4. I think it’s most important to choose cruelty-free products. What’s a few dollars compare to the tremendous torture lab animals endured before their slow death. Plus cruelty-free companies are also more ethical with the ingredients they use. They pioneered sulfate and paraben free shampoo long before popular brands are forced to do so by consumer demand.

    • I’m leary of these cruelty-free product claims since I believe many companies make false claims. For example, Clinique claims to be cruelty-free, however, the Clinique products that are made in China are tested on animals. So, since Estee Lauder owns Clinique, Bobby Brown, Prescriptives and many other companies, no doubt those products are tested on animals in China as well.

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