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How Diversion Affects You

Diversion? If you aren't in the beauty business, chances are you've never given a thought to it, much less heard of it. Diversion is an industry term for unauthorized sale of salon products. If you read the bottle of your professional hair-care products, it states clearly that the product is only guaranteed by the manufacturer if purchased from a salon professional. Diversion is when big box stores sell the same products. So, how does this affect you as a consumer?

No guarantees.

The products bought at Costco, Target, Longs, etc. are not guaranteed by the manufactuer. If you visit the website for Redken or other professional lines, they are willing to take the product back if it doesn't suite your needs or perform as you expected. However, they need a receipt from the salon where you bought it, or they will not honor the guarantee.

You may be paying more.

You are most likely paying more for your shampoo at these unauthorized resellers. People don't expect to pay more at Target or Costco, and assume the prices are better. However, these discount stores are not actually paying wholesale for the product. They approach salon owners and offer a margin of profit over the wholesale price to the owners. Otherwise, why would salon owners make the deal?

What are you really buying?

Lab tests have shown that products that have been diverted are many times contaminated or diluted. Product often finds its way to big box stores because it didn't sell at a salon. It can be expired or very old. Look for discontinued packaging, batch codes that are scratched off the bottles, dented or damaged bottles, caps that don't match the bottles, or excessively dirty bottles. These are signs that the products you are buying may have been tampered with or contaminated.

It is not against the law for Target or other mass retailers to buy professional salon products, or to remove the batch codes from the bottles. However, if there was a recall for health reasons, there would be no way to track affected merchandise that has had the batch codes removed. Salons have contracts with these professional lines, and are able to maintain high quality merchandise. The manufacturers want you to have a good experience with their products, so they try to make it only available to reputable salons and salon professionals.

Diversion does affect consumers. So, support your stylist and salon owner. They are likely giving you the best deal, and their advice alone can save you from disappointment. Besides, they appreciate your dollars more than a faceless big box store.

Have a beauty related question? We'd love to hear it, and so would our readers. Email your questions to


We’d love to help.

If you don't have a stylist or esthetician you work with, give us a call and we'll set up an appointment to help you with your skin-care or hair-care products. We have several make-up artists that are happy to help you find new colors and techniques that make you feel beautiful. Letting us know when you are coming in will ensure we can give you all our attention. This is a free service, and there is no obligation to buy our products.