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Why a Salon Shampoo Feels So Much Better Than a DIY

… and how to change that.

Why is it that a salon shampoo feels sooo much better than the shampoo you give yourself? Surely the fact that one is done by a paid professional while you recline and the other is done by a frantic person just trying to make it out the door has something to do with it. But both involve a basic recipe of water, product and hair …  so why are the results so different? We asked Pamela Lynch of the Ulta Beauty Artistic Team to give us the dirt (pun intended). Here, her pro tips on getting a salon shampoo at home.

1. Lather counts.

A rich, bubbly lather is what lifts dirt and residue from your hair and scalp, so a quick shampoo smear just won’t do the job. “Lather your shampoo at the scalp by frequently adding in water while massaging the scalp with the pads of your fingers,” Lynch says. Then, rinse completely—really, really completely—then apply conditioner, focusing on the ends of your hair.

2. Don’t use too much product.

When it comes to the amount of shampoo and conditioner to use, there’s no right answer; Lynch says to focus on that lather, so use whatever you need to get you there. “The proper amount of product varies from a dime to a silver dollar; it all depends on your hair type,” Lynch says. Use products targeted toward your specific hair type, texture and length, then start experimenting with a small squeeze.

3. Keep it mostly lukewarm …

There is no “perfect” water temperature, but Lynch suggests warm water is ideal. She explains, “Warm water best allows the [hair] cuticle to be rinsed free of residue.”

4. … but do a cold rinse.

Lynch suggests controlling frizz by doing a final rinse with water that’s cool to cold to help smooth your hair’s cuticle—a must if you live in a humid climate.

5. Mind the gap.

At a salon, your shampooer holds the water spray right against your head for maximum rinsing power. “You want your water source to be within an appropriate distance to thoroughly rinse your scalp of all lather and residue,” Lynch says. At home, keep your shower head as close to your scalp as possible. Even better: Install a shower head with a removable hand shower that you can wield over your hair (without letting your shoulders get cold!).

6. Have a pro show you.

Don’t be shy: Next time you’re at the salon, have your stylist talk you through a shampoo—or show him or her how you do it at home, and ask for pointers. Lynch says a professional who’s actually seen and touched your hair is best equipped to determine how often you should shampoo, based on your lifestyle, and what products you should use, based on hair length, type and color. Your stylist wants to help!