Up until a few years ago, I had a long-held belief that splurging on shampoo was the equivalent of washing your money straight down the drain. My hypothesis stemmed from the fact that all bottles seemed to make my long, unbleached hair look exactly the same, no matter how affordable or expensive. But as soon as I started experimenting with color and shorter styles, I realized that every option that would have been deemed good enough before was no longer even close to cutting it. The glowing exception: Philip B. Weightless Volumizing Shampoo, which has basically become my blowout in a bottle. Below, my honest review and the full breakdown of what makes this formula so amazing.
Philip B. Weightless Volumizing Shampoo
STAR RATING: 4.6/5
BEST FOR: All hair types, especially color-treated hair
USES: Volumizing, smoothing, hydrating
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Rosemary, sunflower, and aloe extracts
BYRDIE CLEAN: Yes
ABOUT THE BRAND: Founded by celebrity hairstylist Philip B., the eponymous line focuses heavily on hair and scalp health. The luxurious formulas use potent blends of botanical extracts to deliver noticeable results.
About My Hair: Healthy with highlights
My hair is very healthy considering everything I’ve put it through over the last few years (varying shades of burgundy and fire-engine red highlights, which require a fair amount of bleach). I’ve since eased up on the color and get much more low-maintenance brunette highlights done once a year by my favorite colorist, Diaz. It’s thick and grows quickly—I often have to ask my hairstylist, Francesca, to take out extra weight whenever I go in for my annual chop. I have a natural wave when I air-dry, which is almost every day. The only time heat tools touch my hair now is when I make my annual trip back to New York and book my standing appointment at Bumble and bumble.
While I’ve stuck to long hair for most of my life, I’ve become much more fond of short cuts over the past five years. My current length just grazes my shoulders, which is great for cutting down on dry time—but also has a tendency to tangle, poof up, or turn into a weird triangle shape if I’m not careful about the products I use. Enter the need for a shampoo that can give good air-dry results, without turning my highlights into a brassy mess.
Ingredients: Color-safe and hydrating
Philip B. himself once gave me an essential oil-packed scalp treatment and blowout that I dream about to this day. Every product in his line contains a carefully selected base of botanical extracts to mimic that experience. Obviously, it’s not exactly the same, but it gets pretty close. The heroes at work here are rosemary, sunflower, and aloe extracts. Rosemary is often used as an alternative to ingredients like minoxidil when treating scalp conditions such as dandruff or androgenetic alopecia. When applied to the scalp, it helps stimulate hair growth and boost circulation. Sunflower is high in oleic and linoleic acids, which help improve hydration. Aloe vera rounds out the trio with its anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
This shampoo is also sulfate and paraben-free—the former is especially important, as it makes it safe to use on color-treated and bleached hair. It contains sodium hyaluronate and rice bran extract, which both often feature in my favorite skin care. The former is a hydrating molecule similar to hyaluronic acid, while the latter has proven antioxidant qualities.
The Feel: The ideal amount of sudsy
You only need a small dollop of product to coat every strand of hair. It dispenses as a translucent, creamy gel that quickly lathers into large amounts of enveloping foam (without the stripping action of sulfates). I like that the formula manages to feel hydrating without becoming heavy; it’s gentle on my scalp and makes every strand instantly smoother, but also doesn’t leave behind an oily residue or weigh my hair down. It rinses off easily as well.
The Scent: Deliciously floral
I’ve been begging Philip B. to make perfumes for years; his shampoos smell tantalizingly delicious without being overpowering. The Weightless Volumizing line features the cheerful scent of magnolia flowers—if you haven’t smelled them before, the effect is lush and sunny, without being cloying. The scent throw is just strong enough that your shower will smell like a spa retreat as it steams up, but not so strong that it will compete with your perfume.
The Before + After
The Results: Shiny hair with tons of movement
While volumizing shampoo might sound like a weird choice for someone with naturally thick hair like mine, I’ve found that the best formulas help create tons of lift and movement that bring out my natural waves. I always wash my hair at night, gently pat off the excess water with my trusted Aquis Rapid Dry towel, and let it air dry the rest of the way. I don’t use an in-shower conditioner or hair mask, trusting the hydrating components of the shampoo to do most of the heavy lifting. The only other step I take—so low-effort that I hesitate to even call it a step—is to always sleep on a silk pillowcase to cut down on tangles. (The ones from Branché hold up best after multiple washes.) A few times a week, I’ll spray my still-damp hair with the Philip B Weightless Conditioning Water, another Byrdie favorite. This basically just boosts the effects of the shampoo even further.
In the morning, I’ll roll out of bed and go. The goal is to not have to do anything more than run my fingers through my hair a couple of times, and it’s very rare that I can find a shampoo that lets me achieve this on short hair. But this one, besides smelling fantastic and being gentle enough for daily use, does exactly that. No matter what, using it guarantees that I wake up to hair that’s shiny and smooth, with tons of movement and just the right amount of volume (read: no triangle-shaped inflated bob).
The Value: A splurge, but worth it
Truthfully, it took me awhile to come to terms with the concept of expensive shampoo. At $34 for 7.4 fluid ounces, it’s undoubtedly more of a splurge than anything you’ll find at the drugstore. What makes me believe the price is worth it is that even though I wash the formula down the drain after a few minutes, I can still clearly see and feel the effects until my next shampoo. Depending on your hair type and how often you wash it, you might go through a bottle fairly quickly or be able to use it for months. One way to make it more cost-effective is to alternate it with another, more affordable formula.
Similar Products: You have options
Bumble and bumble Curl Shampoo: This is probably the formula I’d nominate as most similar in effect to Weightless Volumizing Shampoo. Designed for curls, it brings out my waves without weighing them down, is color-safe, and hydrates to the max. Because it’s designed for particularly dry or bleached hair, it is a tad too rich for me to use regularly—but I love to incorporate this once or twice a week.
Rahua Classic Shampoo: Rahua is another brand that uses essential oils and botanical extracts to power their formulas. I love their color-safe OG Classic Shampoo, which smells warm and woodsy (like Palo Santo), and leaves my hair luminous and soft. However, to get the just-right level of hydration I need on my bleached hair, I like to pair it with the accompanying conditioner.
Davines Minu Shampoo: Another great product I discovered after going red was this baby-blue, softly scented gel from Davines, which is pretty much the ultimate for preserving color. While it gives all the hydration and softness I crave and protects my highlights like nothing else, it’s not what I would recommend for volumizing.
Interested in reading more reviews? Check out our list of the best shampoos for every hair type.
Our Verdict: Treat yourself
Philip B. Weightless Volumizing Shampoo convinced me that the right shampoo really does make a huge difference, especially when you prefer to skip daily styling. No matter how much I toss and turn at night, a small dollop lets me wake up to hair that falls into place beautifully. If you want to make the rest of your hair routine way easier, give it a try immediately.
Panahi Y, Taghizadeh M, Marzony ET, Sahebkar A. Rosemary Oil Vs Minoxidil 2% for the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized Comparative Trial. Skinmed. 2015;13(1):15-21.
Manosroi A, Chutoprapat R, Sato Y, et al. Antioxidant Activities and Skin Hydration Effects of Rice Bran Bioactive Compounds Entrapped in Niosomes. J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2011;11(3):2269-2277. doi:10.1166/jnn.2011.3532