Pantene Pro-V Brunette Expressions Daily Color Enhancing Shampoo – Dissecting the label

Another in our continuing series that endeavors to teach cosmetic chemists how to look at a product label and see what they can determine about the cosmetic ingredients used in the formula.

In this post we will look at Pantene Pro-V Brunette Expressions Daily Color Enhancing Shampoo. Pantene is one of the most successful and popular shampoo products on the market and for good reason, it’s a great formula. Let’s see what in it.

LOI – Brunette Expression

Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, Dimethicone, Laureth-4, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-6, Trihydroxystearin, Mica, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 6, Acid Green 25, Red 4, Benzoic Acid, Ferric Ferrocyanide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.

1% line

The trick to figuring out the primary functional ingredients in a formula is to find the 1% line. This is the line at which the concentration of ingredients is at 1% or lower. In this particular formula, the 1% line is likely after the Dimethicone. In previous versions of this shampoo formula the shampoo patent calls for 1% dimethicone. For most mainstream products fragrance will not be included at a level above 1%.

What the ingredients do

Now that we know the 1% line, here’s what the ingredients do.

Cleansing ingredients
These are the ingredients that make the hair clean.  P&G has optimized their surfactant blend to create an incredibly creamy and rich lather.  One of the best systems in the business (as far as acceptance by consumers goes).

  • Water
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
  • Ammonium Xylenesulfonate – Secondary surfactant to reduce irritation
  • Laureth-4 – Could be to improve creaminess & reduce irritation

Conditioning ingredients
These ingredients are left behind on the hair and give it a conditioned feeling.  While it is not advertised as such this is actually a 2-in-1 shampoo formula (shampoo+conditioner)

  • Dimethicone – Add conditioning
  • Polyquaternium-6 – Cationic conditioner
  • Panthenol – Moisturizer though could just be a claims ingredient
  • Panthenyl Ethyl Ether – Supposed moisturizer but I’m skeptical
  • Trihydroxystearin – Emollient to affect foam feel

Since this is supposed to be for brunettes they wanted to give it a shimmering brown color.  These colors might stain the hair a bit but they are primarily used to make an otherwise white shampoo look brown.

  • Mica – White shimmering color
  • Iron Oxides – Brown coloring
  • Titanium Dioxide – White shimmering color
  • Yellow 6
  • Acid Green 25
  • Red 4
  • Ferric Ferrocyanide

Preservative system
They certainly have a more complicated preservative system and seem to have gone out of their way to avoid Formaldehyde donors like DMDM Hydanotin and Parabens.  I wonder what the reason behind this was.  Most likely to make it a more global formula because those preservatives are not acceptable everywhere.

  • Disodium EDTA – Chealating agent helps preservative
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Benzoic Acid
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Sodium Benzoate


  • Fragrance – Signature fragrance of Pantene

Formula adjusters

  • Sodium Chloride – Thickener
  • Citric Acid – pH adjuster to get formula ~pH 5.5

As I said the Pantene formula is one of the best in class in the market and it’s an excellent one for formulators to try and emulate and beat.  It performs very well in blinded consumer testing.  Incidentally, while this formula is marketed as for brunettes there is not much difference between this SKU and the white normal version.  A brunette could use either formula without noticing a performance difference.

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