Sham shampoos - which brands are just like flushing your cash down the drain?

LATHERING up with an expensive shampoo may be washing money down the drain, a Yorkshire scientist has concluded.

Dr Laura Waters

Despite the designer hairdresser names, glossy packaging and price tags of up to £40, Dr Laura Waters says expensive brands are no better than ones costing less than £1, if you just want clean hair.

Dr Waters, who lectures and researches in chemistry and pharmaceutical science at the University of Huddersfield, was asked to analyse the effectiveness of three shampoos for a BBC2 Horizon programme broadcast tomorrow.

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After carrying out tests on hair donated by two students, her verdict is that all shampoos, from the cheapest to the most costly, are equally effective at simply cleaning hair.

But it is worth paying extra for the conditioning properties of the dearer brands, especially for those with “problem” hair – too dry or greasy for example.

“If you just want clean hair, then price doesn’t matter. However, if you are after more from your shampoo, then buy the best you can afford,” is the advice from Dr Waters.

Also filmed were her PhD students Tanya Swaine and Catherine Finch, who volunteered to leave their hair unwashed for a week and then donated strands for the investigation.

“If you look at a hair really close up you can see the shaft and clumps of dirt,” said Dr Waters.

“We looked at the hair when it was dirty and looked again when it had been washed.

“All three of the shampoos left it perfectly clean.”

However, the cheapest product – containing no conditioning agent – left a charge of static electricity on the hair and this would have the effect of attracting dirt back to the surface, said Dr Waters.

“The project has made me realise that you should invest in the best shampoo that that you can. It does make a difference. But if you literally just want clean hair, it doesn’t really matter.”

Hair Care Secrets is on tomorrow at 9pm.