The Pantene Expressions products below are positioned as being custom-color hair care for blondes, brunettes, and redheads. They purport to enrich your color while protecting hair fading. The ads feature stunning models with flowing, brilliantly colored hair, but maintaining such ravishing color is not possible with these or any other hair-care products. When it comes to color fading, the two biggest enemies are sunlight and water. Unless you're willing to keep your hair completely covered every time you're outdoors and wash your hair as infrequently as possible, you will experience some amount of color fading. I wish there were products to recommend that absolutely protected hair between dye jobs, but at this point in time, it's still more fantasy than reality. All in all, even though they can't keep your color from fading, these are definitely products to consider for the hair types indicated in the reviews below. [More Pantene reviews are contained in the September/October 2005 issue of my Cosmetics Counter Update newsletter, which may be purchased online.]
Blonde Expressions Color Enhancing Shampoo, for Lighter Blondes, Platinum to Sand Dune ($5.99 for 13.5 ounces) is one of three new color-specific hair-care subcategories from Pantene, though none of them contain ingredients unique to the enhancement of blonde, brunette, or red shades. If anything, this is a blatant attempt by Pantene to copy John Frieda's Brilliant Blonde and Brunette collections, but even those products are more problematic than helpful for hair, regardless of color. As a shampoo, this product is a good conditioning option for normal to dry hair of any thickness except fine or thin. The plant extracts included may seem enticing, but none of them can affect blonde hair. The coloring agents won't do that either because they are not the type that can cling to hair; they simply change the color of the product. This shampoo can be used on any hair color. The tiny amount of ammonium xylenesulfonate--a solvent that can swell the hair shaft and cause dryness--is unlikely to be a problem for hair because of the conditioning agents that precede it on the ingredient list.
Blonde Expressions Color Enhancing Conditioner, for Lighter Blondes, Platinum to Sand Dune ($5.99 for 13.5 ounces) continues Pantene's tradition of producing excellent conditioners. This formula is incredibly similar to what you'll find throughout the company's conditioner selection, and includes silicone, along with Pantene's Pro-Vitamin B5 (panthenol). When compared with silicone or other ingredients, however, Pro-Vitamin B5 isn't as substantial a conditioning agent—its "pro-vitamin" statement just looks impressive on a label. The plant extracts and coloring agents in this product have no impact specific to blonde hair. This conditioner is appropriate for normal to dry hair that is normal to coarse or thick.
Brunette Expressions Multi-Dimensional Shine Glossing Serum ($4.99 for 1.7 ounces) is a standard silicone serum that is an option for any hair color. As with all silicone serums, this provides brilliant shine, helps control frizzies, and makes damaged hair look better by temporarily filling in damaged areas of the cuticle layer. It is recommended for all hair types except fine or thin.
Red Expressions Strength Seal Fortifying Spray ($4.99 for 5.1 ounces) is an exceptionally lightweight styling spray that provides light moisture and improved combability, but it won't fortify hair in the manner suggested on the label. This is still a good option for fine or thin hair that needs some detangling and light moisture. It does not hold any special advantage for red hair.