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Everyday Cheapskate: Stop making these costly hair mistakes

No one knows your hair better than you do. But is it possible that in your efforts to keep it healthy and looking good, you are washing money down the drain needlessly? Consider these mistakes many people make.

Mistake: Expensive shampoo. Come on ... ‘fess up. You feel guilty using $.99 shampoo because it’s really bad for your hair. And anybody knows the $24 salon variety is so much better especially for chemically treated hair, right? Wrong! Price has nothing to do with it.

The secret to shampoo intelligence is to know your detergents. Look at the list of ingredients. Water (or some fancy name for it) will always be the first ingredient. Next comes the detergent. It’s tricky, so keep this list handy.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate — very harsh

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate — harsh

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate — still harsh

Sodium Laureth Sulfate — mild, great choice

TEA Lauryl Sulfate — gentle, good choice

TEA Laureth Sulfate — gentle, also a good choice

With the money you save on the shampoo, buy a quality conditioner. Unlike shampoo that washes down the drain, the quality of conditioner does make a difference.

Mistake: Over washing. Shampoo strips essential oils from hair. Day-old hair styles better and generally looks better than freshly washed hair. Cut back shampooing your hair to three or four times a week. Your hair will love you and your shampoo will last twice as long. If you want to freshen up your locks in between shampoos, spritz with a good dry shampoo.

Mistake: Too much shampoo. You don’t need a giant head of suds to know your shampoo is working. Start with just a small amount. Then instead of shampooing and conditioning all the way through, concentrate shampoo toward the scalp, and condition just the mid-shaft to the ends of your hair. Your ends need more moisture and your roots need a little less of it so they can maintain volume. The suds will run down from the top of your head and get those ends clean anyway.

Mistake: Rinsing too much. Colored hair is much different than hair that has not been chemically treated. Since colored hair absorbs and releases water much more easily, when the water leaves, so does some of the color. Rinse quickly to protect that expensive color job. Also, stick to lukewarm or cooler water since heat also removes color faster.

Mistake: Too much conditioner. The ends of your hair should be the focus when putting on this super-hydrating product. When your scalp is covered in conditioner, you’re likely to end up with a tacky film that leads to build-up. With the money you save on the shampoo (see above), buy a quality conditioner. Just keep in mind that it takes only a tiny amount to get the job done, so go easy!

Would you like to send a tip to Mary?

You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Include your first and last name and state.

Mary Hunt is founder of

To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


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