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Question #91935 posted on 01/08/2019 10:28 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why is hotel shampoo so not-lathery? Even the cheapest store-bought shampoos are much... creamier, while hotel shampoos seem oilier. Why is that?



Dear Scampoo, 

You know what makes me laugh? You can buy a bulk order of hotel shampoo online. The catch line they tried to get me with was "{Brand} bulk shower liquids have the perfect blend of natural ingredients and an exhilarating aroma to provide your guests with a truly memorable shower experience" and I don't know about you but I'm not taking a shower for the adventure of it...

Anyway. Lots of hotels, like Alta says below, have some high-quality stuff. Others are cheapskates and buy bulk-order bubble deceit. But we know that already. You want to know why. 

Basically, most shampoos contain a key lather ingredient - Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. SLS is a surfactant. This just means that it's a chemical that is really good at breaking up bonds between the outermost molecules in a mixture and lowering surface tension. Additionally, it's hydrophilic. In English, it makes the soap really foamy and it sticks to your hair better. Great. 

So if you take a look at the ingredient list of your run of the mill $3.00 shampoo that you get from the grocery store, it'll probably look a little something like this: 

Water, Sodium Laureth (or Lauryl) Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, and then a really nice long list of oils, vitamins, and perfumes that are added to it to make it smell good etc. Like Moroccan oils, Jojoba seed oils, and lavender oils and extracts, blah blah blah, maybe some colors, and then some other chemicals that we won't talk about, but they're basically just soap. 

Now, lots of people think that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is giving people cancer. It's not, but most people who are mildly concerned with slapping an "All Natural!" label on their products prefer to leave it out of their stuff. Hotels like to avoid lawsuits, and some people can have reactions to stuff like SLS and other random chemicals. You know, sensitive skin and whatever. So they'll buy gallons and gallons of "Sulfate-free All Natural" shampoos and soaps, which don't have the surfactants/foaming agents in them, so they don't lather. Or, they don't care and they'll actually give you some decent stuff. 

If you read the ingredient list and Sodium Lauryl or Sodium Laureth Sulfates are listed, it'll lather. If not, it's just glorified cheap hand soap. If it does has them in the list and it still doesn't lather, then there's probably something else in it that's messing with the ability of the surfactant to really do its job. 




Dear Shampooing,

All I'm saying is I just got back from a hotel where the shampoo was from Bath and Body Works, and it was MORE luxurious and nice than the normal crappy shampoo I get from CVS. Quality Inn, really delivering on the quality.