I love my hair. I also regularly damage my hair on purpose. I bleach my naturally strawberry-blonde strands to platinum approximately once every three months, and I put up to 400-hundred-degree heat on it several times a week. To keep my strands from looking totally fried all the time, I'm perpetually on the hunt for new strengthening and hydrating hair products. The most recent one to make its way into my routine is the Pantene Intense Rescue Shot: a single-dose tube packed with a single serving of deep conditioner.
This little guy launched in Brazil in 2008, and its "popularity has grown since then to become the #1 brand in the segment," Dr. Jeni Thomas, Pantene's global principal scientist tells me. Now, it's finally made its way over to the U.S. for 2019. It's basically a hair mask in shot form, made with "Pantene's highest level of strengthening lipids," which, according to the brand, allows the product to target areas of extreme heat and color damage by penetrating the strand instead of just coating the hair. For people who wash their hair every, or every other, day, the brand recommends replacing your conditioner with the Rescue Shot once a week. Since I only wash once every five days or so, and use a deep conditioner or hair mask whenever I do, I've been rotating it into the stash I use every wash day.
The first time I tested the Rescue Shot was on a press trip with the brand, after a day of surfing, working out, and just generally being active in the sun. My hair was looking even drier than usual (the left picture below) what with all the outdoor elements it's not exactly used to being exposed to.
In terms of texture, the shot feels lighter than my usual hair masks, but definitely thicker than a traditional conditioner. One tube was the perfect amount for my fine, medium length hair, though Thomas did say that anyone with coarser hair will likely need more than one tube — and someone with super fine, straight hair might be able to get a couple uses out of one.
To get the most benefits from the shot, Thomas recommends shampooing your hair, rough drying it with a towel, applying the product, combing through, and waiting at least one minute before rinsing. (I waited about five.) Since it's more lightweight than what I'm used to using, I felt that it rinsed out super quickly, which I very much appreciated.
Perhaps surprisingly, the main ingredients in the product are different types of alcohol — which, I think it's safe to say, many people associate with drying out the hair, not adding moisture. However, Thomas says that the two key ingredients, cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, are actually creamy, lipid ingredients that the hair can absorb when they're in a gel form. (The FDA backs this up, noting that the more drying ethyl alcohol is approved for cosmetic use as well, so check your labels if dryness is a concern.) In addition to the two alcohols, the shots contain glycerin for hair flexibility and Pantene's signature pro-vitamin B5 combination.
In terms of how all these ingredients worked on my particular hair, the photo on the right above is after I let my hair air dry, then slept on it overnight. It's definitely shinier, definitely healthier, and my waves are definitely more defined than they were the day before. Of course, I can't vouch for other textures (though Nikki Brown of StyleCaster is also a fan) but at six bucks for three tubes, it's the kind of beauty buy I feel comfortable saying everyone should try.