Sunday, 1 August 2010

Review - Pantene Aqua Light - is it worthy of the hype?

Disclosure - PR sample. We also received goody bags and jewellery as a gift from Pantene.

Pantene have stormed the blogosphere with their latest release - Aqua Light. You'll have seen it on pretty much every UK blog, thanks to a wide-reaching social and online media campaign. Pantene are talking to bloggers, and bloggers are talking about Pantene.

Last week Gemma went to meet the new Pantene ambassador, Cat Deeley, who embodies the "hair you can swish!" concept of the campaign with her shiny honey locks. Apparently she was extremely lovely and likeable, and excited about her new mission of getting women to "Swish!" their hair.

Trust us though, readers. We won't be swayed by charismatic Cat, brand attention, or gifts and goody bags. We'll tell you the truth about this new product from Pantene. The hard fact of the matter is...

... it's very good stuff.

Anticlimactic as that might be, this product range definitely does what it says on the tin.

Aqua Light's purpose is to address the needs of the startlingly large percentage of women who do not use conditioner when washing their hair. Apparently many people prefer to skip the conditioning step as they feel that their hair stays cleaner and less weighed down for longer.

At LBR, where some of us use nothing *BUT* conditioner, this way of thinking is totally unfamiliar. Surely conditioner is the best part of a hair wash?

Pantene's answer to this frankly disturbing behaviour is to create products so lightweight that they leave even the finest, limpest hair "virtually weightless" ("virtually weightless" is a key line for Aqua Light and appears at least 3 times on each bottle).

The "science bit" is threefold - firstly, Pantene have minimised the amount of silicone in their conditioner (ask Gemma, silicone is terrible for building up on hair, that's one of the reasons she's given it up altogether). Secondly, they've formulated the products to rinse very clean, choosing ingredients that group together in a loose, layered arrangement that is easily disrupted by water and doesn't cling to the hair. And thirdly, they've implemented "liquid conditioning" - choosing ingredients that are liquid at room temperature and won't turn into solid "gunk" on the hair once it's dried.

So you've thought it through Pantene, we'll give you that. You've also explained your technology in a way that actually makes sense and keeps the PR fluff to a (relative) minimum. But what are the products like to use?

There are four products in the line. Shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner and a leave-in spray. They come in fairly typical drugstore bottles, not a massive departure from the rest of the Pantene range. They won't wow your guests or give you that high-end smug feeling, but they're usable, robust and gender neutral (good for the fine-haired man in your life). The shampoo is clear, the conditioner translucent and typically conditioner-y (likewise the deep conditioner), while the spray is an interesting two-phase liquid in a clear bottle.

Scent-wise, the familiar parfum-de-Pantene is in evidence. It reminds me of high school. Aaahhh. Nostalgic, but not especially unusual or luxe.

The shampoo lathers readily (it contains SLS) and does rinse very clean. The conditioner spreads easily through the hair and does a fine job of detangling. I leave it on for around 10 minutes, and it also rinses very easily, leaving hair feeling soft and smooth.

A few squirts of the leave-in treatment has taken the place of my usual Bed Head serum while I've been testing this out. It doesn't leave the ends of my hair as silky as the Bed Head does, but since my hair's in such desperate need of a cut I won't judge it too harshly for that.

Once dry, hair is bouncy, shiny and has even attracted compliments at work. I was skeptical at first, expecting that I'd experience silicone build-up after a few days' repeated washing. However it seems that Pantene's formula tweaking has paid off (at least in my case), and these products are fine for repeated use. I haven't noticed any dullness, scalp irritation or loss of volume.

Verdict - a great drugstore staple and well worth trying if you don't like to splash out on haircare. If you prefer a more indulgent experience, stick to the high end brands, but for a functional and effective budget haircare range, this certainly succeeds.

Pantene is owned by Proctor & Gamble, who carry out a small percentage of their testing on animals. Read their animal welfare policy here.


  1. My unconditioned hair disturbs you? xD

  2. You don't condition? Interesting! Do you find you can go longer between washes than with conditioner?

    And disturbing - not literally :)

  3. my hair's been getting pretty limp at the roots lately and since i don't fancy a cut anytime soon, i've been toying with the idea of not conditioning every time i wash. but the problem is, i wash everyday and i fear for the state of my hair if i don't condition. it's too bad this contains SLS as i'm allergic, i would've loved to try a product like this!


  4. @Dani - I have fine hair too and it does drop at the roots quite easily. I find that a handful of mousse and blowdrying with my head upside down makes it stay volumised for a bit longer. Or you could try an SLS-free shampoo like one of the ones from the Naked line - find them at Boots, they're very nice!

  5. I have quite naturally oily hair - if I condition, it gets so greasy after less than a day.

  6. My hair would be weird white-girl dreadlocks without conditioner! (and the top layer is a bit flyaway, so weighing down is *good* from where I stand) Any idea of the animal testing status of Pantene? For some reason I expected to see a disclaimer, maybe my info is out of date (or my brain out of caffiene...)

  7. @LiseyDuck surprised to see that you are quite right - post now amended. Thank you :)

  8. liseyduck - Pantene is owned by procter and gamble, so yes it is tested on animals as are all their products

  9. Someone told me Pantene is just as bad a using bleach on your hair...this scared me alot!! But your review seems really positive. May read some more reviews and give it a try ;)


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