Splurge or Save: Hair Care Products

When it comes to hair care, luxury brands come with luxury benefits. There’s no doubt about that. But for hair care basics, plenty of mid-range drugstore brands get the job done just as well.

Frankly, we all want the very best care for our hair, but some splurges are a major waste of money. Depending on your needs, certain cheaper buys may even work a little better than the expensive brands! How can you tell when to save and when to pay premium prices? Don’t worry–we’ve got you covered.


Splurge or Save: Save

Unless you require a special shampoo for a scalp condition, you’re better off saving. Of all hair care products, shampoo has one of the simplest jobs. It’s designed to regularly clean grime, build-up, oil, and pollution from your hair. With that in mind, finding a basic, quality shampoo for a bargain is easy.

For years, I used Mane ‘n Tail. And no, it’s not just for horses. It costs between $4 – $6 and is incredibly good for your hair. Beauty insiders tend to agree. If you’re unfamiliar with this legendary hair hack, read this.


No matter your hair type, there’s an affordable shampoo for you. However, professional shampoos may contain superior ingredients or address particular hair concerns, so consider mixing up your hair washing routine. Keep one fancy shampoo on deck and alternate it with your more affordable bottle. You’ll get salon-level benefits but lengthen your mileage on both bottles.

If you want to purposefully splurge, go with Ouai’s Detox Shampoo. Great for all hair types, this once-a-week clarifier deeply cleanses to wash away dirt, oil, and buildup caused by other products with the power of apple cider vinegar and hair strengthening keratin. Thanks to this weekly reset, you’ll get the most out of your drugstore brand, too.

Looking for a natural and budget-friendly brand? Check out Love Beauty & Planet. This affordable, green, clean, and cruelty-free line has been a game-changer for many, present company included. Plus the scents are fabulous.


Splurge or Save: Splurge

With conditioners, paying a little more is frequently recommended by haircare experts.

Typically, cheaper conditioners are loaded with fillers that cause build-up. They work well a few times, but gradually, they get gunkier and your locks become lifeless. So splurge on a quality conditioner.


Quality conditioners address specific hair concerns better, outlast cheaper options, and improve the condition of your hair over time. Plus, a little goes a long way. Any hair professional will tell you that if you’re using more than a dollop the size of a silver dollar, it might be time for a haircut, deep conditioning treatment, or a better conditioner.

Deep Conditioning Treatments

Splurge or Save: Save

Splurging on a daily conditioner is smart, but deep conditioners are different. In fact, some of the best treatments can be found in the grocery store!

deep conditioning

If you haven’t tried coconut oil as a deep conditioning or scalp treatment, do so ASAP. It’s often deemed the best natural oil for your hair, as it reduces protein loss. Check out these pro tips for treating your hair with coconut oil. Olive oil and lemongrass oil are also great alternatives, and they’re all much cheaper than going to the salon.

If you aren’t into a DIY deep conditioner, go to your local drugstore. Here’s a list of the 12 best drugstore deep conditioners for every hair concern. If you really want to splurge, go for it. A deep conditioning treatment is not something used every day, so you’ll still get your money’s worth when it comes to luxury and longevity.

Hair Treatments/Leave-In Products

Splurge or Save: Splurge

When leaving products in your hair to repair, restructure, de-frizz, or detangle it, it’s almost always worth the splurge.

hair treatment

Cheap leave-ins are notorious for doing more harm than good, often causing buildup and breakage. If you really want to treat your hair, treat yourself in the process. After all, you’re probably not using it as often as shampoo.

If you are using a leave-in treatment regularly, consider your long-term hair goals. You want something that’ll leave your hair in better shape than it started, right? For better results, better leave-in treatments are usually worth the expense.

Styling Products

Splurge or Save: Toss-Up

With styling products, your hair’s condition, type, and temperament are the deciding factors in what’s worth top dollar. Realistically, the only way to know for sure is by trial and error.

If your favorite products are affordable, more power to you. But not everyone is so lucky. To get your money’s worth, experiment with samples or minis first. Start with drugstore brands and go from there.

styling products

Also, consider how often you’re using the product. If you need a daily hairspray with serious hold, splurge on a salon brand to prevent build-up and excess flaking. If you only use hairspray occasionally or want a soft, flexible hold, go with a drugstore brand instead. Other styling products may require a tad more experimenting before you decide if you should save or splurge.

For example, many folks with curly hair claim Garnier Fructis is the way to go. Some people call Herbal Essence Set Me Up Spray Gel the best bargain buy around, but some claim all Herbal Essence products dry hair out.

Some brands are revered for bridging the budget gap. Sexy Hair, Nexus, and Bed Head can be found in drugstores as well as salons. They cost slightly more, but they’re worth the slight splurge if you can swing it.

Blow Dryers

Splurge or Save: Toss-Up

Before you buy a blow dryer, consider how often you’ll use it.

blow dryer

Many stylists advise splurging, especially when considering how far blowdry technology has come. The new ionic dryers save time while cutting down on heat exposure. Their speedy and more gentle nature guarantees less damage and a nicer blow dryer will last longer. But consider your needs before believing the hype.

A basic hairdryer may be enough, especially if you’re not using it regularly. Here are the 5 best budget hairdryers for those wanting a salon-quality blowout.

Flat Iron/Hair Straightener

Splurge or Save: Splurge

Nothing puts more heat on your hair than a flat iron. Therefore, quality matters. Spend more on a straightener that counteracts or prevents some of the inevitable damage in addition to doing its job.

Much like blow dryers, straightener technology has drastically improved. While it costs more, you can find quality straighteners for much less than they once were. When assessing quality, know the three primary categories of metals for flat iron plates: ceramic, ceramic tourmaline, and titanium.

hair straightener

Ceramic is ideal for smoothing and evenly distributing heat. Ceramic tourmaline neutralizes negative ions, giving you a silky result with less strain. Titanium holds heat the best, so you’ll run it through your hair the least. However, unless you have thick and durable hair, it’s not necessary or wise to use titanium.

If nothing else, opt for ceramic plates. Without them, you’re practically asking for damaged hair. Cheaper brands claim to use them, but they’re usually so thin, it doesn’t really count. Here are the best hair straighteners, according to celebrity stylists, and ranging between $20 and $200.

Curling Iron/Wand

Save or Splurge: Splurge

Any time you apply heat to your hair, it’s causing damage. To minimize that damage, buy a higher-quality curling wand.

curling iron

For most, this is a luxury item. There are plenty of ways to curl hair that don’t require a curling iron or wand, like flat irons, curlers, or curling brushes. Still, for the easiest and quickest curl, it’s a handy tool to own. To get the most bang for your buck, know what you’re after before you invest. For instance, the bigger the iron, the larger and looser the curl, and so forth.

Once you decide on a size, look for a curling wand that reduces damage. After all, hair protection makes this one worth the splurge. As with straighteners, ceramic irons and tourmaline irons are both smart buys, but gold-plated curling irons are dubbed the creme de la creme.

Hair Brushes

Splurge or Save: Save

You’ll need to consider your hair type, but generally, a quality hairbrush doesn’t have to be expensive.

You don’t want the cheapest of cheap, as inexpensive drugstore hairbrushes with plastic bristles will pull and break your hair. Instead, aim for something between dirt cheap and top dollar, while leaning towards more affordable.

hair brushes

To give your hair the gentlest brushing, look into boar-bristle brushes. Real or synthetic varieties will do. Thankfully, boar-bristle brushes are becoming more popular, so the prices are dropping as the options expand. These world-renowned wonders are available at drugstores for $20 or less.

The Marilyn Brush Downtown New Yorker comes highly recommended. Pick one up at Target for $13. Ion’s Professional Boar & Nylon Cushion Brush is at Sally Beauty for $10. In the market for a wet brush? Try Wet’s Pro Shine Enhancer for $15. Allure says it’s one of the best. For a top-tier tease, Drybar’s Texas Teasing Brush is about $20, and top hairstylists swear by it.

Happy hair care hunting!