Many women I know refuse to skimp on hair products. They’ll eat canned soup for a week to afford the high-dollar shampoos, conditioners and hairsprays. For them, it’s worth it, and I get that. Nobody likes bad hair days.

But like many pricey habits, there are cheaper alternatives that can be just as satisfying. Whether it’s switching brands or cutting back on how much you use, there are plenty of ways to keep more money in your pocket.

If your hairstylist uses a new product on your hair, don’t assume that means you have to buy it to get the same salon look. Tell your stylist up front if you’re on a budget, and ask if she can recommend any less expensive options. If not, look elsewhere before buying from the salon, where it’ll be most expensive.

Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Ross sell salon-grade products and styling tools from top brands such as Tigi, Redken and Paul Mitchell for at least 30 percent less than they’re original retail prices.

The sale section at Ulta in Mount Pleasant’s Towne Centre is another sweet spot for salon product savings. Plus, there is a coupon for $3.50 off of a purchase of $10 or more in most store circulars. Check online or print the coupon from if you can’t find the print edition.

I swore off using cheap brands of shampoos and conditioners a few years ago because I found out about the irritating chemicals in most of their formulas. In general, try to avoid sulfates, propylene glycol and anything with the word “alcohol” after it. These chemicals are drying your hair, causing more frizz, and probably encouraging you to spend more money on products to tame it.

I’ve found that switching to organic hair products has not only made my hair healthier, it’s cheaper and more effective than anything I’ve tried so far. Target and Whole Foods are my go-to spots to shop for them.

I recommend Nature’s Gate, Yes To and anything by Alba Botanica. Prices range from $5-$12 per bottle.

Since the findings about harmful chemicals, many drugstore brands have improved their formulas. L’Oreal recently launched its Ever Hair Care line, which doesn’t contain any sulfates. I’ve been pretty impressed with its results. Plus, it’s about $6. Another good one is Aveeno Pure Renewal. It’s mostly natural and the seaweed extracts make my hair soft. At Rite Aid this week, you pay $10 for two bottles and receive $3 in rewards.

Reach Abigail Darlington at