Monday, August 20, 2012

Why I Hate Pantene:Beauty Q & A

First, let me start by saying that this post is really about the difference in over the counter haircare products that you would find at the drugstore versus haircare sold in salons. I am not just picking on Pantene, but it will have it's moment of reckoning, so hang in there for a few minutes.

Here's a little story for's not real, just a story, so I am not referring to anyone I know, just in case you were worried.

Jane went to Macy's one afternoon because they were having a blow-out sale. She had been eyeing this beautiful silk blouse all summer and it was finally going to be in her price range. She swiped her credit card so fast it would make your head swim, and headed home with her new treasured piece of wardrobe.
She has worn it a total of 4 times since she bought it and every time at least 3 people compliment her on her blouse, saying how great it looks on her. Jane knows that this splurge is going to be in her wardrobe a long time and is truly going to take care of it. Then, because it needs a little freshening up, Jane decides it's time to clean the blouse, so Jane wads it up and throws it in the washing machine on the regular cycle with a 1/2 cup of Tide.

I'll give you 2 guesses on what happened to Jane's coveted blouse, and the first one doesn't count.

This story, to me, is the equivalent of a someone going into a salon, spending their hard earned money on a fabulous hair color service and then going home and using drugstore brand shampoo. Most women spend anywhere between $50 - $250 on their hair color every 4 to 8 weeks, but then those same women will turn around and use a shampoo that costs $7 at Wal-Mart...hmmm.

Now, your question is, so what's the difference that makes it such a crime against humanity to use OTC shampoo on my color treated hair? The answer can be found in any high school chemistry class across the country, and that is .... pH. Most services performed in a salon that use any kind of chemical are typically very alkaline on the pH scale. Color, perms, retexturizers...they all fall on the alkaline side, some more than others. The thing is, that after we perform these services, the main goal in keeping your hair color looking great and lasting a long time, is to get the pH back to neutral, or as close as possible. So, most salon quality color care shampoos and conditioners are acidic on the pH scale in order to counter balance that, thus helping your color stay beautiful and stay put longer.

This is the key behind all the hype of "sulfate-free" shampoos. Sulfide is used as an emulsifier, or "sudsing" agent, in most shampoos. The problem is that sulfide is very alkaline, so it can actually speed up the process of fading. THe sulfate-free shampoos are very acidic, which of course, is the best choice for color treated hair.

Another big difference in salon haircare is concentration. Salon shampoo, conditioners, and styling products tend to be very concentrated, so it actually takes a lot less product to achieve the same result. Many studies have been done and many have found that the price per use of drug store products versus salon products are not that far off...just something to think about.

One more point to be made is this...if you received a color and then went home and washed it in Prell (yikes!) and then noticed the color looks faded and flat, is it the salons fault the color didn't hold? Hmm...I would have to say no, if your colorist did recommend that you use salon products. Some salons even have a disclaimer that says they can't be held responsible for chemical services if you do not use their recommended products. I find this a little harsh and don't use a disclaimer, but I do make sure all of my clients are well aware of what they should be using before they walk out the door.

Now, this leads me to Pantene..ugh.

We all know the ads..the girl with beautiful, long, flowing, shiny hair, smiling and frolicking around. It makes you want that hair, total brilliant marketing at it's best. Here is the problem. Pantene Pro V has an ingredient that is called Polyquaternium 10. This ingredients is used to get the slick, shiny feel that Pantene is known for. Unfortunately this ingredient builds up on the hair over time and can cause a barrier effect. It is hard to color, perm or even highlight through this once there is a significant build up on the hair. I personally have had perms not take at all because someone was an avid user of Pantene. Color can actually wash right off the hair because it wasn't able to soak into the hair strand and be properly deposited. In general, it's nasty stuff, and it takes a long time to remove it. I beg of you to not use Pantene if you are having chemical services done to your hair.

Now that I've said that, if you are a person who doesn't do any chemical services to your hair, or a guy with inch long hair all over your head...use whatever you want. You can use bar soap for all I care, it really doesn't matter. But, if you have invested your hard earned cash and time in a great color by a great colorist...please protect that investment and use what your stylist or colorist recommends..your hair will thank you.

Have a great, Pantene free Monday,


  1. I can remember Mary Meeker telling me this when I was just a kid. Lynsey

  2. Salon shampoo uses the same ingredients. When a stylist makes claims in the name of Chemistry, it's dishonest. I have used salon shampoo and found myself going back to something like Pantene, which I believe is also formulated by chemists--although stylists will insist otherwise.
    I like Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo though. But not because it comes from a salon. But I use Pantene because I can't afford a $30 shampoo. Stylists recommend their products to make money. That's understandable; we live in a capitalist country! But I don't buy that salon shampoo is made of much other than the usual suspects: detergent, conditioners, and all the science stuff found everywhere. The ingredients mentioned in this article--I've read them on salon bottles too.
    There are good and bad products from stores AND salons. I think that's the most honest way of describing shampoo.
    Not buying the "science" behind salon superiority.