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Dirty Little Secrets Of Celebrity Hair Care Lines

Recently I received a call from the rep of a well known celebrity hair stylist who will be releasing their new celebrity hair care line in 2011.  The rep wanted to know if I would be interested in selling the line on in our Marketplace.

After asking some questions about the ingredients, where the product is being manufactured and ultimate distribution channel goals I graciously passed on the opportunity.

Did I make a mistake?  Of course that's always a possibility, but considering over the years I've tried a number of celebrity hair care lines which turned out to be a huge disappointment, I am very skeptical with any type of celebrity branded products.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not against all celebrity hair care lines, but after personally trying just about every new brand, there are only a handful that I think are actually worth the sticker price and provide good quality hair care.

Unfortunately a large component of the celebrity hair care lines are flawed.  Why?  Because most of the celebrity hairstylists are not hair chemists who formulate their lines from scratch. 

It's All About Marketing

Ultimately the key to a celebrity branded hair care, hot tools, brushes or similar is based on the concept of marketing.  You can get a lot of people to spend a lot of money on something as long as you put a famous name on it.  Well at least that used to be the case before the advent of troubled economic times.

Of course there is always an exception to every rule in the hair care world, but history has demonstrated that celebrity stylists, especially when their careers are hot, will partner with a hair care company or similar and add their name to help elevate the brand.

Just as many celebrities lend their names to everything from fragrances to shoes, celebrity hairstylists do the same for hair care products.

Luckily consumers have become more savvy about hair care ingredients, custom formulations and best value for price.   Which partially explains the popularity of No Poo, Lo Poo and Diluted Poo movement.

I never used to see consumers standing in beauty supply stores and comparing ingredients.  Now I see it happening on a regular basis.

Contract Manufacturing Of Hair Care Products

Although some celebrity hairstylists put out hair care lines and similar products with high price tags, in essence if you compare the ingredients or the features, they are not much different that a more economically priced product.

I remember being shocked many years ago to discover of of the celebrity product lines was being shipped to our warehouse from the same manufacturer as one of our economical brands.

After some digging I discovered that both lines were made by a contract manufacturer in California.  The contract manufacturer offered a catalog of pre-formulated hair care products ranging from shampoo to styling sprays.  They even offer similar packaging.

Differences In Labels And Pricing Tag

The difference?  The labels and of course the price tag.  Which is exactly what I discovered when one of the lines had shampoo for $4.95 and the other sold for $24.95.  Same formula, same bottles, different label, but one was a no-name product while the other was from a big name celebrity stylist.

Over the years the contract manufacturers have gotten better at hiding the similarities by utilizing different bottles and packaging and mixing up the ingredient lists a bit more.  But the practice continues.

Many of the same chemicals in a Unilever or P&G low end product are identical to those high end celebrity brands.  Of course there is always exceptions to every rule, but in general this practice is still common.  In fact, the products are often made by the same manufacturers, called contract manufacturers.

Cosmetic Chemistry

Most hairstylist, celebrity or otherwise, know very little about cosmetic chemistry.  I read everything I can find about it and it can be pretty complicated stuff.  Most celebrity hairstylist don't have the time or inclination to do their own research of formulate their own ingredients.  Which is why some products are actually knock-offs of the best selling brands.

In all fairness some of the of the celebrity hairdresser know enough to provide a list of the good and bad ingredients they might like to have in their products.  They might even get involved in sniff tests of the aromas.  But generally speaking they are not creating the formulas like a cosmetic chemist does.

Long Ingredient Lists

To cover up the fact that a celeb hair care line is very similar to as drugstore version, the celeb line may include a much longer ingredient list.   Always be suspicious of a long ingredient list.  Why?  Many of the ingredients are included to support their label claims, not because they provide a unique function.

Bottom line?  Before you spend $24 for a celebrity hairstylist shampoo do a comparison of the ingredients.  Then see if you can get a sample and do a side by side comparison.  Ironically a $25 bottle of shampoo in an 8 ounce bottle might be very similar to a $2.5o bottle that might come in 16 ounces.

The big name celebrity lines might justify the extra expense with an exceptionally long list of ingredients but those extra ingredients might just be window dressing.  Both the celebrity hairstylist and the low end mass market shampoo lines contain water, conditioning agents, preservatives and fragrances.  They may or may not contain surfactants due to the current trend to be sulfate free.


While your celebrity hair stylists know a lot about creating fabulous hair styles for celebrities,  they don’t know much about chemistry or how to formulate products. Leave that to the celebrity cosmetic chemists who do know how to formulate products from scratch.

There might be some other very minor differences but ultimately except in some special situations when you buy a celebrity brand you are spending money for marketing and hype and not the formulation.

Save your money and treat yourself to something else.  Or buy the shampoo, but get the bottle autographed and resell it at an online auction for double what you paid for it.  In that case it would be worth it to invest in celebrity brands.  Of course I'm not sure there's much of a market for celebrity hairstylist signed bottles since the market is now flooded with them.

Always be sure you are getting what you pay for.

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