I was getting my hair cut by my favorite hairdresser and when he recommended that I buy a super expensive hair product sold in the salon. I scoffed, telling him that I could buy that same product at the drugstore. His eyes widened and he warned me to never, ever buy salon hair products at the drugstore. He insisted the salon products sold at discount products are almost always a scam.
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I’ve heard of knockoff perfumes and even bootleg Kylie Lip Kits, but I had never heard of fake hair products. I used to always buy salon brands at the drugstore without thinking twice about it. But when I got home, I started investigating my hairdresser’s claim that drugstores sell knockoff salon products. It turns out he was right: You should never buy salon brands at the drugstore. To be clear, we’re talking about pricey brands that are usually sold in salons, like Paul Mitchell, Bumble and Bumble, or Redken (if you’re shopping for Suave or Garnier at the drugstore, you’re in the clear),
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According to xoVain, there’s actually a huge “grey market” of counterfeit products haircare products that are sold without guarantee of authenticity. These products are often fake, compromised, or outdated. This process is called diversion and occurs when products are sold in “unauthorized” places. Collectors will buy salon products from a legitimate distributor and then redistribute them outside of their intended channels (aka salons). Often times, these products will be set aside in a warehouse for years until the barcode expires and can’t be tracked. Retailers will then put a new bar code onto the products and sell them, despite the fact the product might be ruined or ineffective.
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Still don’t believe me? Many other salon brands have “anti-diversion” policies. Redken, for example, states on all its advertising, “Genuine Products Guaranteed Only in Salons.” This means if you buy their products in a supermarket, drugstore or any other outlet other than an authorized salon, spa or authorized salon related website, they cannot guarantee that it is an authentic Redken product that will perform as tested. Diversion hurts hair salons and stylists, but it’s also bad for you. No one wants to pay big bucks for a salon product that isn’t real and might even damage your hair.
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So how do you avoid haircare product scams? Many counterfeit products have a sticker on top of the printed bar code. According to xoVain, you also want to keep an eye out for super high or deeply discounted prices. This is because sellers either want to move this product or up-charge it make it worth their while. If you’re looking for a deal on salon products, take advantage of stores like Ulta. The reliable retailer sells many salon haircare brands. Plus, they have a great rewards program and offer tons of coupons, so you can often score a deal on expensive salon products. And next time your hairdresser suggests a product, don’t go buy it at the drugstore!