Let’s Talk Shampoo….I know, exciting !



This is a trivial post about a seemingly trivial subject but a subject that is near and dear to my heart, my hair. I found humor in this new experience and just thought to share it with you. Sometimes, it’s the trivial things that make me laugh the most…

First let me warn all my hairdresser friends who might be reading this…..you may want to stop reading right about…NOW! What I’m about to divulge will shock and appall you and if you do decide to continue reading,well… you may want to sit down first….

All my life I’ve only ever used professional products on my hair. Growing up in a household of two hairdressers , (my parents actually met in Cosmetology school!), nothing but the Best was ever allowed in our showers! If you called us “product snobs” I would have to concede to the title. Deciding on what shampoo and conditioner to use on my hair has never been a subject of great worry to me. My parents would keep us stocked up on whatever they were selling in their salon (they were also salon owners, but you probably already knew that). And being a salon owner myself for the past twenty years, I never had to worry myself with such mundane issues as what Shampoo and Conditioner to buy! I just grabbed whatever I was selling to my clients in my salon and that was that, no thinking, no deciding. While we were packing for our move we were only allowed to bring four bags and we had to keep the weight to 50 pounds each. I really had to prioritize the contents of those bags. It turned out, shampoo and conditioner didn’t make the cut. (Now, my “very special” styling gel on the other hand, was something I brought a good supply of! I’ll have to address that in a few more months , for now, my issue has been shampoo & conditioner.) So I arrived here in Panama needing quickly, to find something to wash my hair with, no problem, right?

I’ve written posts in the past about several different “firsts”. Well, this was the “first” time I can ever remember going into a grocery store and looking at the haircare shelf! And what a strange feeling it was to not recognize anything on that shelf. What? No Paul Mitchell Or Alterna, Aveda, Biolage, or Logics? HuH? Well, to be honest I wasn’t really expecting to find any familiar professional products but I thought maybe I would find at least Prell, Pert or Herbal Essence, or some other such product that I had seen advertised in magazines or on tv (products that I had always thought of as sub-par, crap, not to be used on “MY” hair! NOOOOO!) Ha! . I will admit to suddenly wishing I had brought my own familiar shampoo, but hey I signed up for a “change” of lifestyle, right? Well Holly, Just pick one and go with it! “How bad can it be? right?” Soooooo I continued to stare at the shelf of foreign shampoos and conditioners with an unfamiliar feeling of bewilderment. Who knew this much thought would go into choosing something so simple as a bottle of soap to wash my hair, Geesh! I did finally spy a bottle with a semi-familiar brand name, Schwarzkoph. I had never actually used the products myself but they make a professional hair color,and I know many stylist who use it . So that is what I bought.

For the past thirty years I’ve been hawking professional shampoos and conditioners and looking down on those “poor souls” who used “grocery store” crap on their hair( I know….Not nice, sorry!) . And I’m sure that all those expensive professional haircare products are indeed very high quality and very good for your hair. But , and here’s where my former colleagues will cringe, my hair feel great! No difference really. And I’m humbled as I recall my snobby,brainwashed attitude of my former life. Granted, it’s only been about three months worth of using my new “grocery store” shampoo (cue the snobby- nose in- the- air!) and any day now my hair may begin to show signs of abuse and neglect. It may start to break and become brittle and listless or Gasp! Dull and flat! FLAT? my hair? Not likely! As a matter of fact, I did finally find a familiar brand of product at Price Mart (similar to Costco) , Herbal Essentials, which , now that I’m typing I’m realizing that I had originally thought it said , Herbal Essence, oops! Ha!Ha! Ok, well, it’s not bad and it’s English on the packaging so it says it’s made from “essential herbs and flowers from the earth”! So that must be good, right? HUMPH!

I’m no scientist and I don’t really have any legitimate scientific proof about the superiority of professional hair care products over grocery store products. I cant quote research or studies done to prove that expensive professional products sold only in salons are exclusively the absolute best , healthiest way to wash you hair. All I can say without a doubt is, my hair feels just fine after subjecting it to inexpensive shampoo and conditioner. Could it be the crisp clean air here in Boquete? Or the healthy lifestyle I’m living as a retired gal? Possibly less stress,lot’s more fun? Or is shampoo just shampoo after all? I don’t know, but my hair is happy and that;s all that matters. I’m learning many things not only about hair care products but about myself. Learning to think differently about many things and to be open to trying to do things a little differently at times. One things for sure, there’s not just “one” way to do things in life and there’s definitely not just “one” good shampoo to buy!!

About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

19 responses »

  1. haha ohhh yes, shampoo…! i have to import sulfate free products since i’ve been doing the keratin treatments… my bathroom cabinet looks like a mini-target store πŸ™‚

    • Oh, a girl who can relate to my little dilemma! I’m goin’ with my curly/frizzy hair at the moment so I don’t need to worry about the sulfate issue. The Keratin treatment is an investment so I can see your need to import special shampoo. I’ll have to report back after a bit more time, who knows what may become of my hair???? Ha!Ha!

  2. Did you ever stop and read the list of ingredients in the shampoos and conditioners? Whether top shelf and beaucoup bucks or down near the floor cheap grocery store stuff the FIRST INGREDIENT LISTED IS WATER!!!

  3. Holly, OMG

    I want a refund after purchasing all that “high” quality stuff for the last 20plus years!,, I’m on my way to Safeway tp buy the cheapest shampoo I can find.

    Love ya anyway!,

  4. I too bought that Amenta stuff at Pricesmart but it made my hair feel like crap. I found a package of a brand of shampoo that has olive oil in it and it seems to do the trick with the hard water here. For $12.00 I get a giant shampoo, a giant conditioner and a giant deep conditioner. For this former Aveda girl (and their products do smell wonderful) it does the trick! πŸ™‚

    • I haven’t been using that Amenta stuff for too long but so far it hasn’t made my hair feel too yucky, buy I have pretty course hair to begin with so It may not be so bad for me, I’ll have to see how it goes. But I did buy a bottle of Aceite de coco from the mercado here. I was told that it is a really good conditioner for your hair as well as good for cooking with!!

  5. Haha! I can definitely relate because my mother owned a salon and my grandfather owned a barbershop. But, throughout my life…living in campgrounds, deep in a holler in Arkansas, and now a small island in Nicaragua, I just use whatever shampoo is cheap and available. My mother is horrified, but I can’t really tell the difference anymore. Good for you! I love this post. It is so much more than shampoo. πŸ™‚

  6. What have you found to use on curls? To keep them curling and not a frizzy mess? Do you have a diffuser or do you just dry naturally (when I am at my lake house on weekends, I tend to diffuse for the volume. I am so unsure how I will wear my stinking hair once in the tropics! Up a lot probably–hope Ray enjoys my long neck!).
    Uh oh though, do your previous clients read your blog?

    • I havent had to address my styling products yet! I brought a pretty good supply but I am getting close to needing to start looking into finding something to tame my curls, that’s even more crucial than the shampoo!! Yikes! I’m not looking forward to that!!

  7. I’m so enjoying reading your blog because we visited Panama last year and fell in love with the Boquete/David area – hope to be living there within about 2 years. As a fellow curly-head and someone concerned about chemicals in products, I found the baking soda and apple cider vinegar “no-poo” method works after an adjustment period of a few weeks (just google no-poo and see what you get). However, I still use high-end styling gels (Ouidad heat and humidity gel is the best for me) and haven’t been able to get around that yet, especially with any humidity. I tried making my own flax-seed gel with some success, but it’s alot of work and is slimy! I’d love to hear what you come up with when you cross that bridge.

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