Aesop Shampoo & Pantene Pro-V Conditioner

Aesop Volumising Shampoo & Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Conditioner

Whether they admit it or not, people care about their hair. Chris Rock made a movie about it. Late night television is full of solutions for men with receding hairlines. [These solutions are not ITG-approved.] Famed trichologist Philip Kingsley claims to have coined the term 'bad hair day' because, he says, he “truly understands the relationship between our hair and our happiness, self image, and sexuality.” And it is true that we spend more time grooming, maintaining and nurturing our hair than any other part of our body.

What else is true: Attractive, glossy hair has become an indicator of health, and we’d like to think that everybody, at the least, wants to look healthy (if not in the 'Wow! You look well-fed' sense, then in the ‘Wow! great hair!’ sense). We are of the opinion that shampoo matters more than conditioner—what you use to cleanse and fortify your scalp feels more important than what you do to the actual hair strands (dead protein). Dr. Kingsley concurred via e-mail, writing: “You wash or cleanse your face every day to keep skin looking its best–your hair goes to all the same places, so it, too, needs daily care. Focusing on the scalp is the best thing you can do for healthy hair.” With that in mind, for this High/Low we examined a luxe shampoo and a drugstore conditioner to see where your money is best spent.

Aesop, maker of the Volumising Shampoo we tested out, knows what they’re doing when it comes to packaging. Their bottles tow the line between utilitarian and fashion-minded. In other words, if you found them in your boyfriend’s shower, you wouldn’t necessarily worry about how much money he spends on his own upkeep (and whether or not he’s a metrosexual, and whether or not that matters). This particular shampoo ($47) combines fennel seed, peppermint, and rosemary leaf, and is formulated to give oomph and body to fine hair. How, you ask? "Polyquaternium lifts and separates hair shafts, while botanical oils add lustre,” explains the bottle. We don’t know much about polyquartenium, but we do know what we like on our heads: shampoo that smells great (peppermint! rosemary!) and leaves your hair at that almost-squeaky-clean state, but with the right amount of residual gloss. Aesop focuses their attention on your scalp (the root of the issue, if you think about it, har har) and it’s own “unique issues.” Approximately $50 may seem like a lot for shampoo, but do you really want to mess around with your scalp? Give it what it needs, you can always save on....

Pantene Pro-V! Totally and unabashedly old-school. We’ll go out on a limb and say that we are confident most people in the Western world know the smell of Pantene and most of them have probably used it at one time or another. The Aqua Light line is new to the Pantene fold, and advertised as “weightless nourishment,” which is what drew us to it in the first place. Generally, we find that conditioner can weigh hair down like nobody’s business. This bottle spoke to us. Almost literally—the back of it asks, "Do you have hair that feels weighed down?” (Yes.) “Do you want hair that is beautifully conditioned with no weight?” (Why not!) So we slapped some on our strands after the Aesop, finger-combed it through (per the bottle’s suggestion) and rinsed thoroughly. And it was awesome. First off, that Pantene smell didn’t drown out the natural pleasantries of the Aesop appetizer, and secondly, they weren’t kidding about the weightless feeling. Our hair was soft, shiny, smooth, and had none of the buzz-killing limpness that we usually associate with conditioner. And it will cost you well under $6 for one of those space-agey huge opaque tubes.

So in summation: for healthy hair that still has volume and gloss and all of those good things, you don’t necessarily need to shill out for both steps in the operation. Go for the nice shampoo: get rid of all the grease and pollution to which we subject ourselves all day, and treat the root of the issue. Then, try skimping a bit on the conditioner, as long as it’s got the vitamins and hoopla that you need. It’s all about balance.

Find Aesop Volumising Shampoo.

Find Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Conditioner.

Illustration by Karleigh Sherman

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Amber

    I love the super cute illustrations you guys always seem to have!

  • Sarah Toth

    what about the curly haired girls! I'd love to see a curly post.

  • adamalpha

    Girls, what are some of the best volumizing shampoos you've used? My hair is sooo flat and thin this time of year!

    • Rose_Luv

      it's not the shampoo - it's all the other stuff you do (or don't use). i like bumble and bumble surf spray for texture and then dry shampoo to keep the roots from getting oily and limp. also a light weight conditioner that doesn't weigh hair down is good

      • adamalpha

        But with some shampoos, when I get out of the shower and air dry, my hair is luscious and glossy and moves as a single, fabulous unit. With others, it's like I have a total of seventeen dithering, frizzy hairs growing out of my scalp, all of them in different awkward directions.

    • Jody Carruthers

      I LOVE the Bumble & Bumble thickening shampoo, conditioner and spray. I wash my hair and comb through the conditioner in the shower and then very gently towel dry, tip my head upside down and spray in the thickening spray. My hair is curly, so I don't comb or run my fingers through it. Then I add B&B texture (un)dressing creme and sleep on it while it's still damp. It gives so much lift at the root and in the morning I add a few waves with the curling iron if necessary, and I'm good to go. I also love the EVO beach spray, I find the B&B surf spray is too much for super fine hair and it ends up crispy.

  • Denisa

    Looks great. Have a nice day.

  • Sarah Decowski

    I wish this applied to curly girls but for the majority of us we can skip shampoo forever and be fine with a heavy heavy conditioner! I hope to see a post on curly hair soon :)

  • Rose_Luv

    i don't get all the fuss about Aesop - their product ingredients are not that spectacular. Their shampoo's first two ingredients are sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate. They list some good stuff throughout, but really they are not that different than cheap drug store brands. And they are not transparent about their ingredients on any websites - which should always make the consumer question why, and research what exactly those other ingredients are. I get the pretty packaging, but there seems to be not much justification for spending upwards of $50 for soap and lathering agents.

  • LouiseLapin

    Interesting. I've always thought the opposite- skip shampoo altogether and stop stripping your hair and scalp of its precious oils and just load up on a good conditioner that can pull the excess dirt and oil away with it. I guess this is a curly/thick hair vs. fine/straight hair discrepancy?

  • LouiseLapin

    Also, isn't Pantene awful for your hair? I've heard nothing but horrible things about their products, that they use chemicals that make your hair look glossy and it coats your hair in some kind of waxy substance and it doesn't make your hair healthy at all but more dependent on their products.

    • Rose_Luv

      yes terrible ingredients - bad for the environment and your skin/scalp. and they test on animals. not a company i would ever support

  • Phoebe Maltz Bovy

    That will work for one hair type only. If your hair's already if anything too voluminous and coarse/dry, it would look mighty interesting after a routine like that!

  • Ona_in_Barcelona

    Come on, this is kind of ridiculous. The only thing luxe about that shampoo is the price - the ingredients are 99% standard detergents + essential oils.

  • billyidol929

    I love pantene shampoo and conditioner, it doesnt get better. But as someone who suffered for many years with fine hair that never does what I want it to do, never holds a style, gets frizzy, and falls flat no matter how much hairspray/volumizer/mousee/teasing i do, i finally found the REAL solution to having long, gorgeous, thick, full hair... hair extensions.
    No matter what product you use, your hair shaft will never be different than its genetic makeup. I got tape-in extensions for volume, and now my hair does whatever i want it to and it always looks great! hair is like men.... you can't change it!

  • marz fraser-buchanan

    I have always taken my conditioner more seriously and just picked a shampoo that doesn't irritate my scalp/cause dandruff but I will rethink this strategy. I personally try use sulphate/paraben free products (mostly because anything else makes my head feel awful as well as it is allegedly awful for my health to use them.. and I am certain I get parabens at least in my makeup!)... but I love this column! I usually try to aim for "midrange" products (moreso with makeup), but I like to see results from both high and low (it's good not to associate good results only with highrange products) but I tend to pick the higher end because I feel ingredients are important. However I have been using a 500ml for 9$ shampoo that is SLS, paraben free AND works!

  • bead

    During a recent jaunt to Barney's I embarrassed myself by having to return to the shelf an Aesop eye cream when the register showed a price tag of $300+! Even the sales assistant was surprised... I mean, who pays $300 for eye cream?!? Please don't answer.

  • Olivia A Ford

    I would really love to see a curly-haired post as well. That being said, I would also love to see a few more posts that provide make up, hair and beauty tips for girls of every hair and skin type and color. I know that this can maybe go under the radar easily at ITG, but it would be awesome if there was more of an effort made to write posts that speak to all readers, and not just the assumed majority. Please take this as simply a constructive suggestion, as I nonetheless absolutely love every single post on ITG and read every single one, but I just think it would be awesome to have a bit more diversity on the blog.

  • Alexandria Gaines

    I really want to try the Pantene aqua light, but every other time I've tried Pantene my hair feels waxy..maybe I can try these out if they have travel sizes because I love the feeling of weightless hair with a lot of body! Love the post!

  • Rola’s FOY

    I love mixing it up with Oribe and Tres Semme!

  • Christine

    While this post illustrates mixing high and low into one's hair care routine, it's actually the opposite which applies for shampoo and conditioner. One should skimp on shampoo as all have the same purpose to cleanse. Whereas, for conditioners, those that are more expensive have higher quality ingredients and are often more natural. Plus, Aesop's shampoo isn't sulfate free; who'd want to pay for a product costing nearly $50 that strips one's hair of essential keratin?!

    Having tried nearly every shampoo and conditioner, from Bumble and Bumble to Phyto, I'm most satisfied with L'Oreal's EverStrong Line. I highly recommend the product for it's ability to smooth and soften hair as well as it's refreshing Rosemary scent!

  • Heather Smith

    As someone who long-ago abandoned shampoo in favor of a baking soda rinse and prefers apple cider vinegar to conditioner for shine and detangling and "healthy scalp," I still have a sort of horrible hangup with buying pretty shampoos and conditioners because they look so dang pretty sitting in the shower. And the Aesop looks pretty.....

    There's something about having a tupperware of white powder and a protein shaker of vinegar on the shower caddy that just doesn't inspire a sense of...."ahhhhh, pampering" when you stare at it.