The Ghost of Paul Mitchell Lives in a Shampoo Bottle

Years ago, I met Paul Mitchell in the flesh – yes the real Paul Mitchell. No I don’t mean John Paul Dejoria, Paul’s business partner who owns and runs the company and continues to keep Paul Mitchell’s legacy of great hairdressing alive – in a bottle.

But I’ve begun to wonder whether John Paul Dejoria has turned Paul’s legacy in the bottle into a ghost too. Whether even what we’re buying in a bottle is the real deal or is it “counterfeit”?

Sure Paul Mitchell’s a living breathing company. It’s a huge brand, at least as far as professional brands go, so big you’d think you’d be able to easily find. But try buying some of the product here in New York City – at least from a professional salon and you may end up on a treasure hunt like I did.

Yes you can see it around town – as a matter of fact it’s frequently displayed in the window of Duane Reade ( a New York’s largest chain pharmacy) – not the entire line but many of the key products.

But I’m funny about where I buy my professional products. I will only buy them from a professional salon.Why? Not because it’s easier but because I’m part of the professional industry. And I know without a doubt that the professional’s endorsement of these products is key to their success. That’s why these brands promise salons the moon and the stars when they’re starting out. Because they know without salon support they’ll never succeed.

But all to often when they hit it big the lines somehow appear in “non-professional” channels where they compete with the salons for the clients’ money.

Bottom line I don’t know one professional salon owner who isn’t on some level upset about professional product diversion. It’s almost like being in a marriage where one of the partners (the manufacturer in this case) has a “little something on the side” and the other partner (the salon) is resigned to living with it.

Now I’m not saying here that Paul Mitchell directly diverts it products to retail outlets other than salons – but I wouldn’t bet against it.

Why? Because here in New York City, finding Paul Mitchell products, or at least finding them in a professional salon in my neighborhood is a problem. You’d think Paul Mitchell, being the a huge professional professional brand it is, would be carried by a ton of salons. So I did what everyone does today – I Google them online to see which salons nearby that carried the product.

So I punched in zip-code and requested salons that carried the brand within a two (2) mile radius from my home.

What came up was a big fat zero – not one salon within a two mile radius was shown as carry Paul Mitchell!

Considering, according to Yelp, there are 318 hair salons on the Upper East side of Manhattan I thought there had to be something wrong. So I tried again – only this time I asked for salons within a three (3) mile radius. And what came up with a grand total of 3 salons – the closest one 2.08 miles from my home – and none on the East Side.

Since I can look out my window and see a Duane Reade (a chain pharmacy that carries the line ) traveling 2.08 miles for a bottle of “The Detangler” seemed out of the question. But I still refuse to buy professional products from any place other than salons or stretching it what was once called “Phantom” Salons – a place that qualified as a salon because it had a few shampoo chairs and a shampoo bowl somewhere on the premises.

Or I could always buy online from buy online from one of these local salons, buy on line from a non-professional resource or shop at Ricky’s (a beauty store chain, with one or two salons) because Duane Reade or another pharmacy chain like CVS.

But when I went online and tried to find a salon with an online store that sold Paul Mitchell I couldn’t find one. That was not the case with those online shopping sites like But when I looked closely at what they were selling there was a qualifier. It read

Guaranteed only when sold by a professional hairdresser, otherwise it may be counterfeit, old or tampered with.

Additional Product Information:

We are not associated or affiliated with John Paul Mitchell Systems and are not a licensed retailer of John Paul Mitchell Systems. John Paul Mitchell Systems guarantees this product only when sold through authorized retailers, and cannot guarantee the authenticity of any product sold by an unauthorized retailer. We cannot guarantee that this product is covered by any manufacturer’s warranties or eligible for any manufacturer’s rebate. If the

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UPC codes or other tracing codes are missing from any product container of a John Paul Mitchell Systems product, please retain your purchase receipt to assist in the tracing of that product in the unlikely event it is defective.

In other words “caveat emptor” Latin for “let the buyer beware” – if you buy Paul Mitchell online or from any other non-salon you may not be getting the real stuff. But then again, you may.

So who knows the truth – only The Ghost of Paul Mitchell knows.