5 Drugstore Shampoos and Conditioners that Strengthen Your Hair


strong hair from the drugstore

We love a good drugstore secret here at FutureDerm — especially when it comes to our hair. Every day we try a ton of products and we all experiment in outside the office to find products we like a lot. Some of our favorite products are things you can find at the drugstore. The nice thing about these finds is that they aren’t a big wallet-buster to try (still, we’ve got the scientific facts for you on each one!).

Product 1: Mane ’n Tail Shampoo and Conditioner


I begin using this one a few years ago, after I switched to a vegetarian diet and  my hair became noticeably thinner. Marketed as a conditioner for both humans and horses, Mane ’n Tail ($29.95 for 32 oz. shampoo and conditioner, amazon.com) promises to deliver stronger, thicker, cascading hair for its users — and anything that makes horses’ hair thicker, I reasoned, should give me locks to rival the Disney princesses.

What sets Mane ‘n Tail apart is its coconut oil. True, coconut oil has a reputation for being heavy and fattening, but it contains good fats that will nurture your locks. Specifically, it contains fatty acids called triglycerides that are able to be absorbed into hair’s four layers. Once in your hair, it retains moisture and halts hair protein loss (protein strengthens hair) especially if you frequently chemically treat your locks (Journal of Cosmetic Science). When your hair becomes more moisturized and fortified, it will give it the feel (or at least the appearance) of being thicker and healthier (LaRoche-Posay Dermatology Library).

So why do I love it? To start, it retains moisture and makes my hair appear less frizzy and coarse. Secondly, the shampoo and conditioner made my hair feel noticeably thicker after about a month of using it, though the feeling quickly disappeared after I switched to another shampoo. They also come in 32-ounce bottles, so you don’t have to worry about running out of  it for a few months (even if you are a heavy user like me). On a minor note, it has a very faint refreshing scent that would linger around you for days on end.

Product 2: Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Shampoo and Conditioner


Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Shampoo ($4.97, amazon.com) and Conditioner ($4.97, amazon.com) fell into my hands after my local drugstore sold out of Mane ‘n Tail and I was in desperate need of conditioner. Sleek and Shine’s apricot kernel oil contains gamma-linoleic acid, that soothes skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It can also soothe inflamed scalp conditions, such as dandruff, dry hair, sunburn, or painful roots that can agitate our hair follicles and inhibit the growing process.
In cases, bacteria and chemicals will collect in our tresses and slowly disintegrate the hair shaft all the way up to the follicle. Luckily, gamma-linoleic acid protects against these free radicals and more by creating a protective, moisturizing shield (University of Maryland Medical Center).

This shampoo and conditioner also contains sugarcane extract, which contains the multi-purpose glycolic acid. Firstly, glycolic acid moisturizes your hair by seeping deep into the hair shaft and hair follicle. Moisturized hair appears healthier and fuller because glycolic acid molecules attach to hair keratin (hair protein), while a moisturized scalp can reduce hair loss and promote normal hair growth. Glycolic acid should make your hair easier to comb out and offer it a softer texture (Dupont – Glycolic Acid).

Garnier Fructis is probably my number-one shampoo and conditioner duo. It leaves your hair with a deliciously fruity scent that isn’t too pungent, but will draw compliments endlessly from friends and passersby. Plus, it really does “sleek and shine” your hair, but still gives you enough volume and body. I did not notice my hair feeling thicker while using this shampoo, but it does make it appear full, and your hair will feel so soft and healthy that you won’t really mind that it isn’t a thickening shampoo. I noticed that fewer hairs fell out/appeared in my comb while using sleek and shine, and my hair didn’t feel as weak when I pulled it back into a ponytail or bun.

Product 3:  David Babaii for Wildaid Amplifying Conditioner


My mother gave me David Babaii’s Amplifying Conditioner ($9.79, amazon.com) as a birthday present, knowing that I would love to try out a conditioner that both contained volcanic ash and donated some proceeds to the WildAid Charity. However, the volcanic ash may just be fluff — there is no scientific evidence that it will fortify your hair, or do anything, for that matter. In fact, volcanic ash is often an irritant for the lungs and eyes since it a smattering of dirt, glass, and rock.

This product does contain jojoba oil, which is renowned for mimicking human sebum. Your body creates sebum to create a protective, hydrating casing over your hair follicles, though sebum production can sometimes be reduced by things like frequent hair drying, lots of styling products, sun damage, etc. Therefore, you should use jojoba oil as an alternative when sebum production is low, or whenever your hair needs some extra oomph (Skin and Allergy News).

Perhaps it was the volcanic ash or the smattering of natural ingredients, but David Babaii’s Amplifying Conditioner did wonders for my hair. After just three washes my tresses felt softer, shinier, thicker, and had more volume than when using most other conditioners. I even compared before and after pictures for this product, and friends agreed my hair looked much better. Plus, it made my hair so much easier to detangle after showering.

The only bad thing about this product is that its only in a few drugstores (i.e. only certain Rite Aids and CVS’s), and you may go a few months without finding it again. Still, it’s a great buy that leaves your hair smelling lovely and feeling clean, while donating proceeds to save wildlife.

Product 4: Tresemme Luxurious Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner


When I want to switch things up a little, I use Tresemme’s Luxurious Moisture Shampoo ($4.79, amazon.com) and Conditioner ($5.99, amazon.com). I love to use this one because it leaves your hair feeling so lightweight but makes the hair shaft feel thicker and more lustrous. Plus, unlike a lot of other conditioners you can put Tresemme on your scalp, and it won’t weigh down the hair follicles. If you have curly hair or wavy hair, Tresemme’s Luxurious Moisture Conditioner is good for keeping them intact while eliminating pesky frizz.

The product’s sunflower oil may have something to do with its great results. Sunflower oil is a popular antibacterial, moisturizing, and soothing agent that will return skin to its natural, smooth texture. So what does that mean for the hair? Well, when hair becomes inflamed or infected, it begins to grow hair at a slower rate, and current hair strands will become dull, weak, and thin — using sunflower oil combates these issues (Dr. Leslie S. Baumann). It will also return linoleic acid to the skin, which is a essential for hydrating and fortifying individual hair shafts.

Product 5: Hair Accessories


So, this one seems really simple but it’s one that most of us forget to pull out hair up during the frigid winter months. Consider this: excess humidity and static can make hair frizzy and flyaway, and frizzy hair appears thin and unkempt. Repeatedly pulling on and off coats, hats, and scarves can gently (and discreetly!) pull out unsuspecting hairs, leaving your hair much thinner for the coming summer – this one used to happen to me a lot, especially because my winter-term classes were all in different buildings.

Even if you like to leave your hair down, you should consider pulling it up into a butterfly clip while you are outside, so that your hair won’t be subject to as much static or cling to your coat when you take it off.

I started doing this this summer, after I was tired of seeing my coat draped in enough hair to make a wig and my scalp becoming increasingly transparent. I purchased two butterfly clips from my local RiteAid and use them while riding the bus to school and walking to and from classes. Sure, my hair is still dry, but I have noticed that I have been losing fewer hairs and shedding less on my clothing.

Think something like Scunci Effortless Beauty Basic Jaw Clips ($3.99 for a three pack, amazon.com). They’re big enough to hold all your hair but they have plenty of teeth to hold on.

Bottom Line

Are you looking to strengthen your hair?

What makes a strengthening conditioner typically so special is its use of essential oils and fatty acids. When looking at ingredients, make sure that they are ones that will return moisture to the hair shaft, such as beeswax, coconut oil and linoleic acid, and put protective films over them, such as sunflower oil. You can find a routine for beautiful hair in the drugstore if you know where to look.

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  • Kathy

    I live in a rural area and have seen Mane n Tail at local feed stores, also places like Tractor Supply. My children live in an urban area and they have Tractor Supply in their town. One might check with local stables as to where horse supplies may be purchased. Just trying to help with some ideas.

  • Taylor

    @ Judith

    Hi Judith! Thank you so much for commenting. I highly recommend Mane N’ Tail. I have been using for several years now and am always pleased with the results, especially the conditioner. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  • Bruna B.

    Hello! I have two doubts 🙂
    Looking at the ingredients of Mane ’n Tail original conditioner we see that the coconut oil is the 7th ingredient. Is it really enough to do something?
    And isn’t Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, the shampoo’s 1st ingredient, too harsh?

  • Judith Griffin

    Garnier Fructis has always been my brand of choice because it always leaves my hair looking beautiful and smelling so good.

    But I do want to try the Mane ‘N Tail now that you have mentioned it. It can actually be used on horses huh? Wow, must be some pretty powerful stuff. I think I’ll pick up a bottle on my next grocery run.

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