Tales from the Hair Chair
Good Shampoo and Conditioner & The haunting of Pantene

I have a personal problem with Pantene. Pantene has been messing with me since my very first salon job as an assistant in a middle class suburb of Detroit. People there thought they were treating themselves by purchasing the most expensive drug store brand they could find. Client after client showed up with their fried out waxy pantene coated hair. I had to clarify every single one of them.

I’ve felt like a parrot with this speech in the salon. I HATE store bought products. Here’s my speech:

Store bought shampoos and conditioners are made by companies that make things such as floor wax and toilet bowl cleaner. Even the herbal, ‘healthy’, and organic ones are not made by people that study hair. Sure they may make your hair feel clean and not tangley. So why not just save your money and use them? Most of what I see in clients that aren’t using a professional salon brand is that they are dry dry dry! And just because your shampoo says professional on it doesn’t mean it is. Store bought shampoos are like detergents. They can be very abrasive and drying.

The major problem with being cheap about your products lays in conditioners. Aside from just plain not being moisturizing enough they use waxes and oils that just coat your hair. That may seem all fine and good when you rinse your hair and it feels slick and easy to comb through. But that doesn’t mean it’s conditioned. What’s happening is you are sealing your hair off from any nutrients and moisture. Over time using these products your hair becomes more dry and brittle. Ever notice when you get in the shower and it takes a few minutes of the water running on it before it really feels wet. Yeah, coated!

So what should you get that won’t break your budget?

Well first of all since you are used to using crappy product you’ve probably been using too much. Professional brands tend to have a thicker richer lather and go a bit further. Be smart about choosing your shampoo. Buy stuff that is for your hair type. (thick, coarse, dry, fine, colored ect) Most brands have something that will fit into any of those combinations. If you are someone that wants organic there are a ton of brands out there that are now that are fantastic. (Kevin Murphy and ABBA are my two favorites right now) If organic doesn’t matter but price does there are some brands that are on the more cost sensitive side. They are not as cheap as store bought but they also won’t leave your hair feeling like tinsel. (Try Redken, Bed Head, or MOP)
If money is no object and you want to be completely spoiled try Kerastase, l’oreal serie, Rene Furterer, or Phytologie.

Remember that advertisements are designed to get you to buy things. I’ve worked on photo shoots and lighting and photo retouching gives hair completely unrealistic expectations. Those people have fantastic advertising teams.

About a month after quiting the pantene infested salon I was at an outdoor festival. Some lovely people were handing out sample bags of Pantene shampoos and conditioner. I politely declined. Later in that day I had run into the best friend of an x-boyfriend. We were having a lovely conversation when just then some stranger thought it would be funny to throw one of those little satin pouched Pantene bombs into the crowd of people and directly into my face. I blinked for a second not knowing what had just happened and glanced at the ground to find…. clenching my fist and shaking them at the heavens I screamed “CURSE YOU PANTENE!” The old acquaintance stepped slowly away from me. I’m sure in fear about my mental stability. To this day every time a client says they “just use pantene” it feels like to me that they just hit me in the face.