Lightweight and doesn't weigh hair down
Not Byrdie Clean
Heavy on the sulfates
May not do much for length
Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths Strengthening Shampoo
We put the Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths Strengthening Shampoo to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
I can remember the first time I used Pantene Pro-V as a pre-teen in the nineties. After seeing one too many ads featuring gorgeous, grown-up women sporting perfectly coiffed, shiny locks (it was the slow-motion hair flip that did it), I begged my mom for a bottle and eagerly prepared to bid my curly, frizzy hair farewell.
Of course, it failed to tame my locks as advertised (I legitimately expected my hair to look exactly like Kirstie Alley’s in the ads), and I was laughably disappointed. But despite this adolescent letdown, I (along with millions of others) continued using the product well into my teens and early 20s. In fact, roughly 8 million Americans still use Pantene Pro-V weekly as of November 2020. It was (and still is) somewhat of a cult-favorite drugstore brand, and it does make your hair undeniably soft.
So when I was asked to test Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths shampoo, I happily obliged. Formulated with the brand’s famous Vitamin B5 plus their “Nutri-Length Complex,” Pantene Beautiful Lengths promises to lengthen and strengthen your hair to prevent breakage and damage. Plus, it boasts promising customer reviews across the internet—fans claim it actually does strengthen hair over time.
Considering my recent experience with stress-induced hair loss, my frail strands could certainly use some TLC. I took a month-long break from my go-to Verb Hydration duo and put Beautiful Lengths to the test. Find my unfiltered thoughts on the top-rated product below.
Best for: All hair types, but specifically formulated for people with long hair.
Uses: A daily shampoo to lengthen and strengthen hair from root to tip, preventing damage and breakage.
Hero ingredients: Vitamin B5, plus the brand’s “Nutri-Length Complex."
Byrdie Clean?: No; contains methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone.
Potential allergens: Not likely, but sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate may irritate sensitive skin.
About the brand: Pantene Pro-V is a cult-favorite hair care brand that promises salon-level quality at a drugstore price point. The brand was founded in the 1940s by a team of Swiss doctors working in an intensive care unit treating serious skin injuries. They discovered that one ingredient—panthenol (or vitamin B5)—had a strong effect on patients’ hair, and the rest is history.
About My Hair: Fine, dry, and naturally wavy
My hair has always been on the fine, dry, and wavy side, but has thinned out considerably in the last three or so years (thanks, telogen effluvium). As such, clean, hydrating, and extremely lightweight hair care products are an absolute must for me—I try my best to preserve and enhance the bounce, volume, and texture that I have. Anything that weighs my curls down or leaves my hair feeling greasy or flat is a hard no for me. I will admit that my recent struggles with hair health have reshaped my approach to haircare in general—I care much more about ingredient labels than I used to.
The Feel: Weightless and deeply cleansing
Pantene products are known for their next-level lather and deep-clean feeling, and Beautiful Lengths Shampoo is no exception. The formula is lightweight and refreshing, and just a small dime-sized amount gives offers the signature refreshing scent that so many people love. It offers a great lather, rinses clean, and, when followed up with the Beautiful Lengths conditioner, leaves hair soft to the touch.
The Ingredients: A few red flags
As to be expected, the argument against Pantene Beautiful Lengths Shampoo and the brand's other products is primarily rooted in the ingredients. Beautiful Lengths is formulated with Pantene’s namesake hero ingredient, panthenol (vitamin B5), antioxidants, moisturizing fatty alcohols cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, and their “Nutri-Length Complex” to strengthen hair. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut information available as to what makes up the “Nutri-Length Complex.”
While Pantene has markedly improved their formulas over the years, it also contains stripping, drying ingredients that are common in many drugstore brands. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are two of the top ingredients—both create a deep lather and cleanse hair in the short term, but may strip hair of its natural oils and dry out your scalp over time. They also may irritate sensitive skin and worsen conditions like rosacea, eczema, and contact dermatitis. There's also methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, both of which are what make this product not Byrdie Clean due to the potential of triggering dermatitis or allergic reactions.
The jury’s still out about cocamidopropyl betaine and cocamide mea—they’re coconut oil derivatives that thicken the formula, but are considered potential carcinogens that are actually outlawed in California. Finally, Beautiful Lengths and Pantene products in general also contain Yellow 5, Red 33, and fragrance—all artificial dyes and ingredients that can be irritating to people with fine, sensitive hair and skin.
With that said, you’d be surprised how many top-tier hair care brands use similar ingredients; they’re more ubiquitous in the industry than you may think. But many new formulations also include gentler, naturally derived ingredients like jojoba oil, geranium oil, argan oil, aloe, green tea, coconut oil, organic honey, olive oil, organic hemp, and more.
The Results: Lightweight, bouncy curls, but no noticeable change in length
I’m pleased to report that my wavy hair was as lightweight and bouncy as ever when using Pantene's Beautiful Lengths Shampoo. I could let my hair air dry with minimal product and still achieve the weightless waves that I’m trying so hard to nurture and protect. I still had plenty of frizz, but that’s pretty standard for me as my hair thickens again post-hair loss.
That being said, I didn’t experience a noticeable improvement in length or strength, and I’m aware that the potential downsides of using the more stripping ingredients weekly usually happen months to years in. While I haven’t experienced any dryness or loss of volume after a few weeks, I’m somewhat nervous given the fragile state of my hair and quite frankly, would feel better using a more natural product that maybe doesn’t offer a great lather, but is gentler on my hair in the long run.
Of course, all of this is purely personal opinion—I can’t even say I’d feel the same pre-telogen effluvium two years ago. What’s more, my fine, thin, and wavy hair is particularly prone to the drying, stripping effects of Pantene ingredients; someone with thick, strong hair may love its powerful detangling and cleansing properties.
The Value: Unbeatable
At just $6 to $10 a bottle, Pantene as a whole simply can’t be beat from a price perspective. While in some ways, you’re getting what you paid for from an ingredients point of view, Pantene's Beautiful Lengths Shampoo will make your hair softer and smoother after a single wash, so it's well worth it for the product's biggest fans. I think that with the right hair type, Beautiful Lengths and Pantene products in general are a solid budget-conscious buy.
Similar Products: You've got options
Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo: Formulated sans silicones, sulfates, or parabens, this hydrating shampoo ($3) is another top-rated drugstore buy that’s garnered a cult following on Amazon. It’s even more affordable and also contains aloe extract and vitamin E to nourish your hair.
Pantene Nutrient Blends Hydrating Glow Shampoo: Pantene’s “Nutrient Blends” collection features shampoos and conditioners formulated without sulfates, silicones, or fragrance. This blend ($9) contains pro vitamin B5, antioxidants, and baobab essence to moisturize and nourish your locks.
Herbal Essences Bio Renew Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner: This new formula from Herbal Essences ($15) contains zero sulfates, parabens, silicones, or dyes, instead focusing on plenty of hair-nourishing ingredients like vitamin B, honey extract, aloe leaf juice, and ecklonia radiata extract.
Overall, Pantene's Beautiful Lengths Shampoo is a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable product that will instantly soften and detangle hair. But if sulfate-free, clean hair care products are a primary concern, this may not be the right choice for you.
- Product Name Pro-V Beautiful Lengths Strengthening Shampoo
- Product Brand Pantene
- Price $6
- Weight 12.6 oz.
- Full Ingredient List Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Sodium Chloride, Stearyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Dimethiconol, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Tea-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Trideceth-10, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Tocopheryl Acetate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Yellow 5, Methylisothiazolinone, Red 33.