Why Buying Shampoo at the Salon Will Save You Money


Where do you buy your favorite hair products? At the salon? Drug store or discount market? Many people have the impression that the professional brand your salon carries can be found for a lower price at stores like Target or Walmart. I wanted to do some comparison shopping myself so I did a little research and the results were surprising.

For this post, I am focusing on salon professional products. These are the products that are typically sold in salons by salon professionals. Redken, TIGI, Matrix, and American Crew are a few examples. Professional products typically provide better results for any hair type that is not healthy, un-colored, medium weight hair.

For this process, I visited a variety of stores. These include Bartell’s (drug store), Walgreen’s (drug store), Target, Walmart, Safeway (grocery) and Ulta (a mega beauty supply). At Fix Salon, we use Redken products exclusively, therefore, this was the brand I looked for, checking both availability and price.

What did I find? Ulta was the only location that carried the entire Redken line. All other locations carried bits and pieces of the line. Legally, salon professional products can only be sold by licensed professionals in salons. This means that the location has to have a salon in order for them to carry the professional lines. Ulta does have a salon, so it makes sense that they carry Redken as well as many other brands. If a store does not have a salon, yet you see professional products on their shelves, it means it was diverted to them. Diversion is a hot topic in the salon world. When I visited Walmart, the only Redken product on their shelf was All Soft Shampoo and Conditioner. When a store sells diverted product, they do not necessarily have access to the entire line and there is never any consistency to which items they carry. They are simply picking up what “fell off the truck” from their diversion retailer.

In addition to low options and inconsistent inventory, I also found that almost all products carried were discontinued Redken packaging. Sometimes the products  were outdated by as much as 8 years! While it’s hard to pinpoint an expiration date on hair products, most manufacturers will guarantee the effectiveness for 2 years. When I see hair gel that is 8 years old on a shelf, I have to wonder where has it been? Was it stored in a temperature controlled warehouse or has it been collecting dust in a warm storage facility somewhere.

In addition to incomplete and outdated product lines, the most impactful discovery of my comparison shopping was the price of the products. I consistently found the prices to be more than the manufactures suggested retail. Always. The range was anywhere from $1 to $5 more, and typically $3-$5 dollars more. When you shop for your hair products outside of the salon, you are spending more money for a potentially inferior quality product.

In addition to higher prices and expired products, you also add the guesswork of trying to figure out what your hair really needs. Why not let your stylist guide you to the product that will give your the best performance for your hair? Otherwise, you end up wasting money on buying the wrong products that eventually end up collecting dust in your bathroom.

As an added bonus when you purchase your hair products from your salon you are supporting that business and stylists. Many times the revenue generated from retail sales go to improvements to the salon, which make your visit more pleasant, or to continuing education for your stylist, which makes your hair look better. Your stylist will guarantee your purchase and you will have more success in getting the end result you desire!

Hair Brush 101 – What You Need to Know

Hairbrush 101It’s amazing how much easier it can be to style your hair when you have the right tools. For most of us, the most widely used tool when it comes to our hair is the brush. Because all brushes are not created equal, I want to break down the basics and brush up your styling tool expertise. I’ll cover the different types, what they’re designed to do best, and where to get them.

Flat or Round – Columbus learned the hard way, but you don’t have to.

From a general stand point, there are 2 types of brushes: flat or round. Flat brushes are designed to smooth the hair with minimal volume or fullness. Round brushes do just the opposite; they can be used to make hair bigger and add fullness and movement. First, let’s break down flat brushes.

Types of Flat Brushes

Vent Brush

  • Vent Brush–Vent brushes are literally vented, or have spaces between the bristles for air to flow. The bristles/teeth are usually a thick stiff nylon or plastic. This brush is designed to allow hair to dry quickly when partnered with a blow dryer. The teeth of the brush are spaced pretty far apart.  But because of its design, the user has very little control over a polished finish and the end result may be fuzzy. In order to refine the finish of your hair, the next step would be to use a curling/flat iron or a round brush.

Best Use: A vent brush is the perfect choice for anyone with short to shoulder length hair who needs a quick rough blow-dry.

Denman 9 Row Brush

  • Denman Brush–Denman is actually a brand name, like Kleenex is to tissue. The Denman brand, a London-based company, actually produces many different types of brushes. From a professional standpoint, if a stylist refers to a “denman” we are referencing a flat brush, without air vents. The nylon teeth are close together and secured in a rubber mat base. Note, there are many companies that produce this Denman style of brushes. In the salon it is one of my favorite brushes. Because the teeth are close together it creates more tension than a vent brush, and the rubber mat helps to eliminate static and frizz. I can get much more control and a more polished finish with this brush.

Best Use: This brush is perfect for anyone with short to shoulder length hair wanting a smooth straight end result with little volume.

Paddle Brush

  • Paddle Brush–A paddle brush is somewhat similar to a denman in that it has many teeth close together to provide tension for drying and smoothing the hair. The difference is that the base is much wider than a denman and the teeth are more flexible. The wide base gives more exposure to the dryer for longer lengths and the flexible teeth help gently work through the hair reducing breakage.

Best Use: The paddle brush is a great choice for anyone with long hair. The paddle brush can give a head start on pulling out wave and curl to then be followed up with a round brush or iron. I love it for smoothing out my own hair. To see it how it’s used, check out the video “Quick DIY Blow Out”.

Oval Cushion Brush

  • Oval Cushion Brush–This is another brush that is a classic and used by professional hairstylists regularly. A rubber cushioned base with nylon or boar bristle or the best is a blend of both. It is typically used on dry hair for perfect smoothing. Great for getting every last hair in place for your ponytail or special occasion hair. The cushion brush can also be used as a detangler on dry hair.

Best Use: This brush is the best choice for smoothing and detangling any length of hair.

Wet Brush

  • Wet Brush – While not considered a classic style of brush, I am seeing more and more of this style on the market and it is quickly becoming a must have in my brush collection. Wet Brush is a brand that makes an oval flat brush with very flexible nylon teeth. It is the ultimate detangling brush on wet hair. The flexible teeth causes it to go through the hair and gently work through knots without damaging or breaking the hair. Other manufacturers  are producing their own version of this style, so keep an eye out for it.

Best Use: A Wet Brush is ideal for any hair length, but it’s particularly effective for longer lengths. It is best used on wet hair for detangling, but can also be used on dry hair. This is my number one recommendation for any parent who has a child with a sensitive head. It will save many tears and make your morning routine that much easier.

Types of Round Brushes

Round Brushes come in various dimensions and materials depending on their use. Compared to a flat brush they are able to create more volume at the base or scalp and deliver soft rounded shape and movement.

Metal/Ceramic Round Brush

  • Metal/Ceramic Round Brushes–Because heat causes a more effective change to the hair, the base of these brushes are designed to heat up. The bristles are usually nylon and distributed further apart than a boar bristle round brush. When used correctly, they can mimic the effect of a curling iron to a certain extent.

Best Use: Perfect for creating a smooth rounded finish on almost any length of hair. Your length of hair will determine the diameter of round brush you use. The shorter the hair, the smaller the diameter. The smaller the diameter, the more curl or bend you will get in the hair. The larger the diameter, the more fullness and “c” shaping.

Boar Bristle Brush

  • Boar Bristle Round Brush–As you can probably guess, a boar bristle brush uses actual boar hair for the bristles. The bristles are packed tight to create tons of tension and to coax every cuticle to lay down for the ultimate smooth and shiny finish. Boar bristle brushes get better over time. After continued use and exposure to heat, the ends of the bristles start to pop open a bit, much like split ends. The effect gives even more polish to the hair. This brush can be difficult for a hair novice. Because the bristles create so much tension, it can be difficult to work through your hair. It takes some practice to use this type of brush, but the results can be amazingly rewarding.

Best Use: Boar Bristle Round Brushes are perfect for almost any length of hair. Choose the diameter based on your length and desired end result. You will also find boar bristle brushes with a blend of nylon bristles mixed in. This version will be a little easier to use on yourself.

Final note about the difference between boar bristle and ceramic/metal round brushes. Boar will give you ultimate shine and polish with a looser curl or wave. A metal/ceramic brush will give strong shaping and volume and a little less shine.


All of the brushes mentioned are available at Fix Salon through special order. If you are not in Seattle, I always recommend that you support your local salon and stylist for all of your professional tools. If you live in the Alaska tundra and have limited options, all of these brushes can easily be purchased online at amazon.com or ulta.com then delivered to you via dog sled. (Just seeing if you were paying attention; )

There are many choices out there, but these are my sources for brushes:

  • SamVilla.com – I work with Sam and use his professional tools daily. Some of my favorite brushes! Great paddle, denman style, and boar bristle brushes. Amazing quality and I love the heart of this company. See website for your nearest retailer.
  • Denmanbrushus.com – U.S. website for all Denman brand brushes. If it’s mentioned above, you will find it on this site.
  • thewetbrush.com – Home for the up and coming Wet Brush. The tender heads in your home will thank you.
  • Cricket – My preferred ceramic/metal round brush brand. This link will take you to Amazon, the easiest way to shop for this family of brushes.
  • yourtearsheets.com – Another company owned by fellow Redken Artist and Editorial Stylist, Giovanni Guintoli. Beautiful professional quality brushes.

Give me your feedback! Questions about brushes or shopping for them? I’m happy to help. Questions about buying other hair tools? Check out Hair Dryers 101 for the inside scoop!

Now go brush your hair.

Quick DIY Blow Out

It’s our first vlog! My clients are always asking, how can I get my hair to look like it does when I walk out of your salon? To answer that, I’ve created this step-by-step video. Watch as I coach Fix Salon model Stephanie through a do-it-yourself quick blow out at home.

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Video: Quick DIY Blow Out

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind.

1. When you think your hair is dry, keep drying.

Have you ever taken the time to blow out your hair only to have it frizz out a few hours later? Chances are it wasn’t completely dry. When you think your hair is dry, continue to dry it for another 5 minutes or so. Lots of times there is still moisture in the interior of the hair. Unless all the moisture in your hair is completely dried out, your hair will revert to its natural texture.

2. Practice makes perfect.

For the first couple of blow outs, find a time where you are not in a rush and make sure you have all the right tools and products in front of you. You might assume that as a hairstylist, drying my own hair is easy. Believe me, it isn’t. It used to take me 45 minutes to get a perfect finish. Now, because of practice, I can do it in about 20 – 25 minutes.

3. Pick your tools and products wisely.

The difference between so-so hair and show stopping hair is highly dependent on the right products and tools. You just can’t get a salon-looking blow out at home without using the same tools used by the pros. For a quick reference of everything we used in the video, see below. All products are available at Fix, either in stock or by special order. If Fix Salon is far from you, you can find these items online.

Tools and Product Resources:

My favorite tools for a DIY Blow Out

You now have everything you need to know to get a fantastic looking blow out at home. Want a one-on-one blow dry class like Stephanie had? Give us a call. We do that!

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Welcome To My Hair Fix

Welcome to “My Hair Fix”, a blog I have created to help provide education about your hair, your salon experience, hot tips and techniques to make your hair beautiful. After over 15 years in this industry traveling across the country and working in my salon I hear many of the same questions from clients regularly. Haircare is one of the fastest growing businesses in the country, this means that product technology, available services and styling tools are evolving and improving at a fast rate. If you aren’t submerged in the world of hair on a regular basis it can be tough to keep up.

This blog is designed to be a resource of education from someone who is submerged in the world of hair. I love it. I am fortunate to have amazing clients that inspire me every day and trust my vision for their hair. I have also worked with Redken as a design and color educator for 10 years. This experience has aligned me with a science based industry leader that I can continually learn from, staying on top of the latest hair innovations.

There is a lot of information about hair out in the world. Sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction. There are some resources more valid than others. My intent is to empower readers with information to make educated choices about their hair needs. What are the best treatments on the market, new salon services pros and cons, quick home hair tips, how to find the right tools for your hair, and the best color options for your are just a few of the topics that will be covered. I love to answer questions and look forward to hearing what’s on your mind. Over time I hope to create a library of great hair information.

Now, read on. Let me know what you think. Stay in touch with email, Facebook or follow me on twitter. I am excited to see where we go!


Mandy McCullough

Hair Dryers 101

Sam Villa E-T.C. LightHair tools are regularly a hot topic in the salon. My salon guest’s are always looking for advice on how to find the best hair dryer, flat iron, or curling iron. Today I want to focus on hair dryers, keeping in mind that much of this information will be relevant to all hair tools in general. Is there a difference between dryers? What’s the best place to buy a dryer? Does a more expensive dryer work better than inexpensive one? What should come with a dryer? I will touch on all of these and by the end of this post you with be empowered with a MBD (masters in blow dryers), making you an expert in beauty blowout.

Where to Buy
There are many places to buy a hair dryer, so where do you start? The drug store, beauty supply, beauty warehouses like Ulta, Target, not to mention the endless options available online. My suggestion is to consider the return policy and the customer service that supports your purchase. Whether you spend $25 or $250 for your dryer, sometimes things don’t work as you expected. A good retailer will support your purchase with a fair return or exchange policy making it easier for you to feel confident about your purchase.

I refer many clients to Amazon.com. They usually have an abundance of choices in all price points and their user reviews can help with your decision.The sellers typically have great return and exchange policies and your order can be quickly shipped to your front door, sometimes as fast as overnight.

Close to home
Obviously your local salon, if they sell dryers, is the number one choice for purchase. Your stylist can recommend the dryer best suited for you. While they may not have a large selection to choose from, the benefit is that they have narrowed the selection down to the very best, saving you precious time from having to research yourself. In addition, you are supporting your salon and stylist. In many salons retail sales support education for the staff or comforts for clients that lend to a superior salon experience.

If your salon doesn’t carry hair tools, my next favorite spot is Ulta. Ulta is a mega beauty supply store that carries tools, hair products, makeup and more. They have an actual hair dryer bar with every dryer they carry plugged in and ready to be tested. It’s a more hands-on experience than buying online. You can get a feel for the dryer and they have a wide range to choose from. Unlike buying online, you will not have customer reviews to consider, so do you homework before if that is important to you.

If you don’t have an Ulta in your area then Target is your next best bet. The selection is considerable, and if cost is a concern for you, most dryers will fit in a lower price point category. Their return and exchange policy is exceptional so if your new dryer isn’t a perfect fit, you can easily bring it back for something else.

What to look for in a hair dryer
When you’re looking for a dryer, first consider weight and size. There are some big dryers out there that are heavy! Over time this can cause strain on your hand, wrist and arm. Instead, I recommend dryers that are shorter and light weight. This seems to be a trend in dryer manufacturing and it’s good from an ergonomic standpoint. Also, be sure the dryer comes with a nozzle, particularly if you are straightening or smoothing your hair. Nozzles are a key component to directing the airflow and closing the cuticle to give shine and memory to your blowout. If you are diffusing your hair, be sure that your dryer has a cupped diffuser attachment like this. If you buy a secondary diffuser after your purchase, chances are it won’t fit properly or work effectively.

What to spend
Like most products, there is a range of models and prices when it comes to blow dryers. The good news is, no matter what your budget is, there is a blow dryer for you.

  • High End–My favorite dryer in the whole wide world is the Sam Villa E-T.C. Light ($179). Here’s why–It’s made in Italy. Italy corners the market when it comes to hair dryer mechanics. The engines are powerful, yet light. This dryer weighs under one pound. The size is small and the construction is sturdy. I’m hard on my dryers. They get packed in suitcases, travel through airport security, get thrown around the model rooms and on stage. This dryer can handle the abuse. It’s been dropped a number of times and still works like it did on day one. The E-T.C. has a powerful heating element using ionic technology, but the nozzle and casing do not get so hot you can’t touch it. Sam Villa, who designed the dryer, is a platform artist for Redken and has been using dryers for over 30 years. As his company has grown, I have to give a big congrats to his customer service department. They are amazing. If there are any problems with the dryer they are immediately responsive and take all measures to ensure a great customer experience. Let me tell you, this dryer is worth every penny and is available at Fix Salon. In the high end category, my second choice is Sedu Revolution 6000i ($159.95).
  • Mid Priced–If you’re looking to spend a little less, there are some noteworthy products that will give you great performance without the high price. Hot Tools Tourmaline IONIC Professional Dryer ($84.99) is my top pick. The Hot Tools brand is the “go to” for us in the salon world for dryers and irons. This lightweight dryer holds its own in the field of hair dryers. Its tourmaline technology causes hair to dry faster and closes the cuticle down for high reflection and shine. BaBliss Pro Ceramix Supreme ($54.99) is another great mid priced dryer. BaBliss is a strong contender in the professional and consumer world of hair tools. In addition to its ceramic construction, I particularly like that it has a nine foot cord. I hate it when a cord is so short I can barely move away from the bathroom sink as I am drying my hair.
  • Low Price–Believe it or not, you can still get a decent blow dryer without blowing your wallet. My favorite in the budget category is the Vidal Sasson VS505 ($19.99). What I like about this dryer is that for twenty dollars you get the dryer with a nozzle and a nice diffuser. Great price for a good value. At 1875 watts its got plenty of power for even thick hair. Another good choice is the Conair 225R Comfort Touch Tourmaline ($29.99). Conair has been around forever and I have owned a few of their dryers throughout my life. They are no thrills, but straight forward. At just under two pounds this dryer has three heat settings and attachments, all for a very reasonable price.

I hope this information helps you find the blow dryer that is right for you. And that it gives you a sense of what to consider whenever you are purchasing beauty tools. The right tools alone won’t give you beautiful hair, but they make the work a whole lot easier.