According to YouGovAmerica, which conducted a poll to find out the percentage of people who had a positive opinion of specific hair care brands, Pantene stood head and shoulders above the rest. It came in second behind the world’s most popular shampoo — Head and Shoulders!
In fact, in 2021, Pantene was valued at around $5.2 billion. It’s fair to say it is a well-loved brand. However, with huge popularity comes huge responsibility, in regard to keeping a good reputation going. Every few years the social media rumor mill springs into action to let everyone know that Pantene should be avoided.
So is Pantene bad for your hair? Let’s take a look!
Where It All Started
Swiss-based Hoffman-LaRoche launched its range of luxury hair products in 1945, so the Pantene brand has been around for more than 75 years.
It was named Pantene after its active ingredient panthenol, which is a B5 provitamin that acts as a humectant, which holds in moisture and thus softens hair.
In 1985, the Pantene brand was bought by corporate conglomerate Procter & Gamble (P&G), being its first acquisition in the haircare industry. It was after this takeover, and with P&G’s corporate dollars behind it, that Pantene exploded onto the world scene.
Even when the corporate sold off most of its cosmetic brands in 2015, it held onto Pantene, which continues to be a global winner in the industry.
To this day, the Pantene brand is advertised with supermodels such as Gisele Bündchen, singers including Selina Gomez and Ellie Goulding, and actresses like Priyanka Chopra, who promote the brand in more than 100 countries and help to market its continued success.
Is Pantene Bad For Your Hair?
There is no simple answer to the question of whether Pantene is bad for your hair. It all depends on your perspective of what is good and what is bad. This is extended to whether you consider the kind of ingredients used in its products and P&G’s ethical practices as a company part of the calculation.
The internet rumors that tell you Pantene is a bad thing are just that — rumors.
For instance, there was one that went viral in 2016 after a Facebook user had posted that smoke had billowed out of her hair foils during a highlighting procedure after she had used Pantene shampoo and conditioner.
A beauty science blog in 2006 even told a tale of how Pantene 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner contained plastics and wax that coated the hair shaft and that this is what made the hair feel soft, and look shiny and smooth.
However, these rumors were only just that… rumors.
In both instances, it was found that hairdressers had themselves started the rumors in order to sell more of their own exclusive and more luxury products to their own clients.
Sigh. No surprise there.
The Science Bit
The Pantene brand includes an extensive array of haircare products, including its very popular Pro-V range , 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners , repair creams and serums, mousses, dry shampoos, styling gels and heat protectant sprays.
The brand also includes specific ranges that cater to every hair concern, including anti-dandruff, colored, silver hair, and natural afro hair types.
Whatever your hair needs, Pantene has got your hair covered with its scientifically formulated products.
So again, is Pantene bad for your hair?
Well, it depends on how your body reacts to certain chemicals, many of which are toxic to the body.
Toxins Toxins Everywhere
Most of us use at least 10 personal care products every day, and this repeated exposure to chemicals causes a cumulative effect that may lead to over-exposure, resulting in skin irritations like eczema, hormonal imbalances, or even some cancers.
Many of these chemicals are derived from carcinogenic (meaning it is known to cause certain types of cancers) substances like petroleum or are tested on animals.
The real problem is that personal care product manufacturers continually change product formulations.
This means that the Pantene shampoo you may have used even two years ago won’t be the same product you’ll find on the shelf today.
These days many manufacturers will source cheaper ingredients to put in the same bottle, which not only increases their profits but may also cause you harm.
So what may have been a great product for your hair, to begin with, is now causing it to feel limp, dry, and damaged.
This isn’t fair, but it’s how most large corporations function — profits over people is the modus operandi.
And with that being said, at the end of December 2021, P&G had to announce a recall of 30 of its haircare products across brands including Aussie, Hair Food, Herbal Essences AND Pantene.
The recall was due to contamination of benzene in its dry shampoos and conditioners, which is a carcinogen that causes leukemia and other blood disorders.
The recall was the company’s second in less than a month. At the end of November 2021, it had to do a recall of several antiperspirant sprays because of the possible inhalation dangers after benzene contamination.
The Environmental Working Group has been running its Skin Deep database since 2004 in response to helping people find personal care products that are safer to use. The Skin Deep database combines a product’s ingredients with data from over 60 regulatory databases that focus on toxicity to the body.
It then gives safety ratings to let consumers know which products are safest and which ones to avoid for everyday use.
And it’s not just your hair that’s the issue here.
Many of these toxic chemicals used in Pantene products also cause damage when they reach the water supply.
Pollution from the drainage of these chemicals into the water supply is a growing environmental problem everywhere.
Quite a few Pantene products on the market today are free of parabens, sulfates, and silicones. This is good, and is more than likely due to the backlash of many people waking up to how harmful these chemicals are. Pantene is following the rest of the industry into pleasing its customers.
But why is this really a problem, you may ask, considering how great your hair looks?
Well, for starters, your skin is your body’s largest organ. And in order for it to function properly, it’s best if it’s… not overloaded with toxins. This is because your skin (and therefore, your scalp) is porous and absorbs up to 70% of what you put on it into your bloodstream.
So if you’re using Pantene every day, then you may want to consider switching up your shampoo regime every now and then.
This is because there are several products in the Pantene range that do still contain ingredients you should be wary of, including:
A preservative that stop microbial growth, you will also find methylisothiazolinone used in paints, glues and cleaners, as well as the personal care product industry.
According to the FDA, it is a standardized chemical allergen that has the potential to cause skin allergies. It is also known to cause irritation to the eyes and lungs.
Even though many products these days have smells that are considered “natural”, what is termed as added fragrance has been a hot topic with regard to safety for many years now.
The main challenge is that there isn’t data available publicly for many of the ingredients that comprise a fragrance.
This means that anything deemed a fragrance, whether natural or synthetic, is basically a toxic cocktail of chemicals that not only cause skin irritations like contact dermatitis and other skin allergies but can even impair immune system function in some individuals.
Endocrine system disruption and respiratory problems have also been associated with fragrances, while the combination of ingredients used in fragrance formulations, which don’t have to be disclosed on labels, have also been proven to harm aquatic life.
Many synthetic fragrances also contain chemicals that are petroleum-based and carcinogenic, so if you shampoo your hair every day, the accumulation of these substances have the potential of causing you real harm in the long term.
All Pantene products contain these types of fragrances, and until they start labeling them, which is highly unlikely, you’ll never know what’s in them.
Besides the dangers to aquatic life due to some questionable ingredients in its products, there’s also the case of animal testing. Although P&G claims in one paragraph of its animal welfare policy that it doesn’t test its products on animals, which is a good thing, in the next it talks of working alongside the government of China to eliminate animal testing.
P&G may have invested “almost $460 million” in finding alternatives ways to conduct animal testing, including a great marketing department, using a #becrueltyfree hashtag, and even having the PETA logo on its website.
But in this day and age that just won’t do for many vegans and animal activists, who will find the double standard and quite blatant greenwashing unpalatable.
On PETA’s website, it clearly states that Proctor & Gamble is a company that tests on animals.
So when questioning if Pantene is bad for your hair, as you’ve discovered, it’s not just whether or not it makes your hair feel good in the moment.
A change in less effective ingredients is something you will need to keep an eye on. And if you love animals and/or are vegan, you’ll now be looking for a new brand to try.