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Is Pantene good or bad for my hair

Sophie Says: I’ve heard a lot of things about Pantene Pro-V’s shampoo and conditioners. A lot of hairstylists swear on their hair-dryers that it is awful for your hair. Supposedly, it coats your hair with plastic or wax to make it seem smooth, soft, and shiny, instead of really moisturizing your hair. It also reportedly makes your scalp itchy and hair fall out.

However, I’ve been using the Pantene Restoratives shampoo and conditioner for a few months now, and I find my hair less frizzy, more manageable, smoother, and softer. Of course, I also use John Frieda Anti-Frizz Serum and Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Frizz Control Ultra Smoothing Balm (I highly recommend the latter, just apply to wet hair).

Phew, that was long. So, my question is: Is Pantene good or bad for my hair?

The Beauty Brains respond:

Sophie, please don’t fall into the trap of believing everything your stylist tells you. (That’s one of the The Beauty Brains Basic Beliefs.) While most stylists are very talented at cutting and styling hair, they’re not very talented at interpreting cosmetic formulations.

The truth is, Pantene’s shampoo and conditioner formulas are believed to be among the best in the industry by those of us in the cosmetic science side of the business. It makes sense if you think about it. P&G, makers of Pantene, have a HUGE research budget. Certainly larger than any salon company. That means they can afford to dedicate resources to developing and testing the best formulas possible. We’ve seen Pantene formulas beat the pants of salon products in blind consumer testing. (The products are hidden or blinded, not the consumers)

Why is Pantene vilified?

So why do stylists say that Pantene coats the hair with plastic, or make it fall out? Because that’s what they’re told by the sales representatives for the salon companies. And the truth is, it’s just not true! Compare the ingredient lists for Pantene conditioner and any salon brand you can find.

Even though the names vary you’ll see three basic types of ingredients: fatty alcohols (like cetyl and stearyl alcohol); conditioning ingredients (like stearamidopropylamine and quaternium-18) and silicones (like dimethicone and cyclomethicone.) There’s nary a plastic to be found in Pantene. And no, it doesn’t make your hair fall out either.

The Beauty Brains Bottom Line:

You can choose whatever you like – a retail brand like Pantene or a salon brand like Matrix. But shop around and find a product you like and make your own decisions based on your own experience. Don’t pass on Pantene because of stylist anti-hype.


{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Tejal December 3, 2013, 8:22 am

    Pantene Shampoo is really very nice product. I think you believe in Pantene Shampoo as well as Conditioner.

  • Jeffery February 4, 2014, 7:10 pm

    People who don’t know any better will always suggest pantene. Its everywhere… buses, billboards, cable. Its easy to remember the name. My grandma and I have used that for a good 3 years thinking damn the stuff is good. Then I was forced into going to my friends hair dresser and bought a shampoo and conditioner from her. it was All soft by redken shampoo and the matrix biolage exquisite oil. It was like nothing that has ever felt or seen my hair do after just one use. I soon bought that for my 87 year old grandma whos hair was beyond damaged. I sh*t you not her hair after a week of using it made her look 30 years younger. it looked healthier and she had curls again! I was astonished what a difference it made. MY POINT IS DONT BUY THE CRAP PANTENE MAKES and advertises…. just cause they sell so much of it doesn’t mean its good it means ITS CHEAP in every sense. YOU REALLY DO GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!

  • Randy Schueller February 4, 2014, 7:55 pm

    @Jeffery: Thanks for the story based on your single, personal experience. If Pantene is really that bad how do you account for the thousands of data points we’ve seen that show, on a blinded basis, that women prefer Pantene over most drug store and salon brands? Believe me, we have no reason to recommend Pantene. We’ve never worked for that company and we don’t make any money from the brand. But EVERY time we’ve tested it over the last 15 years or so it has scored extremely well. Each test ran between 2 weeks to a month and involved hundreds of women across the US and in some cases the UK, so it’s not like only a few panelists used the product only once or twice. I’d love to hear how you explain away all that data.

  • linda June 21, 2014, 8:42 am

    I had been a Pantene fan for awhile, but the last few months, my hair has become dry and damaged. Yes, I color my hair but I have never had it over processed or damaged from coloring it and no, I do not color it myself! Yesterday, I cut 3 inches off of my hair, thinking maybe it had just become too long, but the result was the same, dry and clearly damaged. I purchased a deep conditioner by Matrix and what a difference. As of today, no more Pantene.

  • Leon February 4, 2014, 9:05 pm

    I have a scalp condition where it flakes really badly. I’m a 23 year old male and I’ve been using Clear shampoo and Head and Shoulders for god knows how long.

    It works great for 2 hours then the flaking would come back with a vengeance. I tried Pantene Pro-V anti dandruff a couple of days ago and I could not believe the results.

    My hair wasn’t oily, my scalp didn’t flake, it basically did what other shampoos didn’t which was restoring my scalp’s moisture. It feels great.

    I’ve used salon brands before and the only one that works better than Pantene would be Redken in my personal opinion.

    I rate Pantene Pro-V anti dandruff a 7.5/10

  • Dara Johnson February 13, 2014, 12:10 pm

    I am an African-American woman with relaxed hair. In between my visits to my hairdresser who does my relaxer, and any other chemicals and cuts, I would visit Dominican salons (because they are cheap) for wash/set/blow dry. Once, I invested in some pretty expensive styling tools (flat iron, blow dryer, etc.) and one day when I could get to the salon, I decided to do my own hair. I had the Pantene Intense Moisturizing Shampoo for women of color. I loved the way my hair came out – understand that I used a Frederic Fekkai Shea hydrating conditioner mask, a leave-in conditioner by Motions and used Chi Silk Infusion pre blow-dry.

    Anyway, when I ran out of the Pantene Shampoo, I used another shampoo (Motions) I had in my closet. I felt the difference and didn’t like it. I then spent a lot of money for an expensive Frederic Fekkai shampoo. It was nice, but I noticed my hair still wasn’t the way it was when I first starting using Pantene. So, I went back to using the Pantene Shampoo just to see if there was going to be any difference. Keep in mind, all the other products I mentioned I was using (FF mask, Chi, etc.) remained the same; I didn’t swap those out. It was just the shampoo I was experimenting with.

    Needless to say, I couldn’t believe the difference Pantene did for my hair. I’m amazed at the difference versus an expensive Shampoo such as Frederic Fekkai’s.

    The ONLY con is that when I would come out the tangles, I still had some sort of residue on my hair, and I’ve always been good at rinsing the conditioner out thoroughly. I think I will finish up the FF shampoo which does do a good job of getting rid of build-up on the scalp and hair, for the first rinse, then follow up the last two shampoo’s with Pantene. I’m a fan for life.

  • Randy Schueller February 13, 2014, 12:27 pm

    Dara: Thanks for sharing your honest experience!

  • vikki August 7, 2014, 10:51 pm

    pantene is horrible I had lots of hair and I might say too much and I used pantene now I am bald your product is horrible and you will have to answer to God

  • Helena May 4, 2014, 5:46 am

    Interesting how a comment from someone who had a bad experience with Pantene is met with a snarky ‘Thanks for the story based on your single, personal experience’, but a story about from someone who likes Pantene gets a ‘Thanks for sharing your honest experience!’ No, you don’t sound biased at all…

    The last couple of days I’ve been searching around trying to see if other people had been experiencing the same hair loss, very dry brittle hair results of using Pantene that I’ve been having because I wasn’t sure if it was just me. Reading this article, I’m sorry, I don’t come away feeling very reassured, tbh you don’t come off as sounding unbiased or rational, you sound very much like someone who benefits from promoting Pantene and discrediting stylists in quite petty tones.

    Essentially you say that because they aren’t ~educated enough~ to understand the science of shampoo formulas or the marketing data of P&G, and even more laughable, because salon studios don’t have the kind of money a multinational corporation has (‘P&G, makers of Pantene, have a HUGE research budget. Certainly larger than any salon company’) – this somehow discredits what these people who work with clients *every day* hearing individual stories from clients *every day* about what Pantene does to their hair. You spend the article running stylists down as morons just repeating things they’ve been told to say, while holding up a multinational corporation as trustworthy and obviously having the customers’ best interests at heart rather than *their own*.

  • Dana August 15, 2014, 12:40 am

    From what i understand is that panthenol penetrates into the cortex of the hair ,and also seals the cuticle and makes your hair shiny . what i think can end up happening over time is your hair becomes overfilled with the b-5 and expands which can create frizzy unruly hair . its the same thing that happens with some proteins .

  • Randy Schueller August 15, 2014, 6:26 am

    Panthenol can penetrate and help strengthen from within the cortex. I’ve never seen any data to suggest that it smooths the cuticle. I’ve also never heard of “overfilling” with protein causing hair to become frizzier. That’s not how these ingredients work.

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