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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.

{ 33 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

        • Vikki February 21, 2015, 9:13 pm

          Oh, for pete’s sake!

  • 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*.

    • Randy Schueller February 22, 2015, 8:05 am

      Helena: Sometimes we do get carried away on this topic and for that I do apologize. But our snarky comments are meant to be for the people who say things like “Pantene is the worst product ever and you should never buy it.” These people are projecting their negative experience onto others which is VERY biased. We praise people who us their honest opinion of the product without judging if it’s good or bad for others.

  • 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.

  • Pankaj Bessan August 23, 2014, 11:01 pm

    fuck pantene

    • Randy Schueller August 24, 2014, 11:24 am

      Thanks for voicing your opinion so eloquently, Pankaj. I’m sure our readers really appreciate your input.

    • shellie October 7, 2014, 1:36 am


  • Elle August 26, 2014, 3:13 pm

    I have hair (past my shoulder blades) that tangles really easily. I’ve just about given up on any kind of solution. My stylist said he’s only seen hair like it on one other person.
    If I wear a collar – the hair at my neckline becomes a mass of tangles. When I sleep, I wake with a mass of tangles all over!
    I twist my hair up and clip it to the top of my head at night, but it’s not a perfect fix.
    During the day the back and sides tangle…I’m breaking hair off every time I have to comb the tangles out! It’s scary!

    I have long hair and do not look good in short hair! I do get blond highlights, but even the dark natural color at my neck tangles.
    My stylist hasn’t suggested anything that works and I’m hoping you might have some suggestions. (I’ve tried serums, conditioning, etc.) This is definitely a strange head of hair!
    Thank you for any help you may provide.

    • Randy Schueller August 26, 2014, 4:33 pm

      There is a condition called “Glass Hair Syndrome” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11407534). There’s not much you can do except keep experimenting with different products that provide hair with a lot of lubricity to help with the tangling. Silicones are typically good for this. You might also try the Living Proof products which are based on a Teflon like compound that’s supposed to be pretty good as well. Good luck!

    • jennifer November 12, 2014, 11:26 pm

      I have crazyyyy long, thick, naturally curly hair. I would always comb it out b4 i showered (using shampoo and conditioner) yet I would still break/lose tons of hair when i brushed it afterwards. I realized that I needed a spray leave in conditioner. After trying about 8 different ones i finally found one that worked! I was hesitant to buy it bc it was $36 per big bottle…but it was fully worth it.
      “Its a 10″ is hands down the best!

  • Courtney September 2, 2014, 3:56 am

    I have recently started using Pantene and I must say… I absolutely detest this product! My hair has started falling out by the handful. As if that is not bad enough, mid day it looks as if I have not washed my hair in weeks do to the wax build up on my hair. If you was your hair with Pantene shampoo and conditioner while in the bath tub, I encourage you to look at the wax that is floating on the top of the water after the suds settle. Needless to say, I will not be continuing the use of Pantene!

  • Margaret October 13, 2014, 1:40 pm

    I used to use Pantene for years. My hair is bleached and it looked nice and would grow well with Pantene. Then I heard it was bad and started using expensive sulphate free salon products. I have spent SO much. Nothing feels as good as Pantene. My hair got worse and worse with these other products. You always hear Pantene is bad because there are thick waxes that make your hair look nice, yet build up. Well the nicer my hair looks the less I’m going to heat style it into looking nice. So that is a benefit with Pantene. I fuss with my hair much, much less.

  • Sabrina January 12, 2015, 12:00 pm

    I went to get my hair cut this past weekend. I have this one section in the back of my hair that I have been trying to grow out for over a year and its still not that long, the stylist said it could be a dry patch. I told her I was taking Biotin and using Argan oil and then she asked me what shampoo am I using and I told her Pantene she said “Oh let me tell you a little secret about Pantene” that she learned in the hair cutting school and about the wax it leaves on your hair. She even took a small section of my hair, took her scissors and scrapped down to the ends and showed me this white stuff on my hair and said it was the wax from Pantene shampoo. At first I was like ewww and was very convinced that I needed to change shampoo and conditioner immediately. Well I am glad I didn’t and found this article, it sure pays to research things out. I really do like the girl who cuts my hair she does a great job, its sad the school she went to is telling them what is good and what is not in the Shampoo/Conditioner world. I love my Pantene Repair and Protect shampoo and conditioner it does a great job on my hair.

    • Randy Schueller January 13, 2015, 6:50 am

      I’m glad we could help, Sabrina!

      • Debbie January 15, 2015, 9:18 am

        I love Pantene. I am currently using Pantene with Argan oil, and my hair never looked nor felt better.

  • amanda;) January 17, 2015, 6:27 pm

    I have tried everything on my hair after a horrible salon experience that made my hair fall out in clumps ! It was past my bra line very full ect the women at the salon left bleach on my hair for 4 n a half hrs despite my concerns her AND the owner kept reassuring me that it was fine .. i had a volleyball game to do to and didnt have time for a style so she did a treatment on my hair free of charge and gave me a bottle of very expensive shampoo n conditioner ” bc she had just bleached my hair” she charged me 200 dollars n i left .. she locked up n left which i thought was strange bc she said she had a client after me but i went on my way i look in the mirror when i got in my truck n seen chunks of short hair everywhere so i run my fingers through my hair and HANDFULLS WERE COMING out. .. anyways after cutting into an inverted bob ive tried everything ive been using clear which i LOVE for ever but today i was running late n showered at my mom’s n used her Pantene despite all of the horror stories and my hair feel GREAT better than EVER shiney , healthy looking , N softer then ever!! Lkvd6

  • Jessica January 23, 2015, 9:19 pm

    I used pantene for many many years. My hair dresser said I had amazing hair and also had many people stop me randomly telling me I have the best hair. Then one day a sales person asked me what I used. i said pantene. They gave me the drool on his head the products were. Well I stopped using painter for 8 years. I have spent thousands of dollars on expensive shampoo to only dry and brittle my hair. Last week I was short on money, and decided to use it again. I am so happy I did, because I won’t go back to expensive salon products again. I’m so mad I listened to those idiots when my all along was telling me pantene.

  • Pattyp January 28, 2015, 4:07 pm

    I must have tried most shampoo and conditioners from salon to hight street over the years, always ready to try something new ” I never learn”
    Always come back to Pantene , which makes my hair super manageable and shiny, going to stay with this super product from now on !!!

  • Deb February 22, 2015, 3:20 pm

    I’ve been using Pantene for years. My hair is natural blond and I’ve grown it long. I actually have been stopped in the street to get compliments on my hair. I realize not everyone’s hair is the same but I love Pantene.

    • Randy Schueller February 22, 2015, 3:29 pm

      Well spoken, Deb. Thanks. (And just so I don’t upset Helena, let me point out that if you said that Pantene was the best shampoo for EVERYONE to use, I would be correcting your bias just as I do for the negative commentators who say it’s the worst thing in the world for everyone.)

  • Di March 25, 2015, 1:59 am

    For you to say that cosmetologist a are inexperienced with formulas is not just incorrect, it is flat out defamation. Pantene has a huge budget for a reason! To mask how awful their product is. I’ll save you the tales of clients who have LOST hair due to Pantene products and just tell you that a former client worked for them. In advertising. He said that they knew their product was awful. Trying to pass off press promotion as truth is despicable.

    • Randy Schueller March 25, 2015, 7:43 am

      Di: Let me ask you this: then how do you account for the fact that when we test Pantene on a blinded basis (in other words, people don’t know what the product is) most people still preferred Pantene to other products (including salon products?)

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