“ Brand: Penhaligon's / Type: Hair Shampoo „
Readers of some of my other reviews will know that Penhaligon's Quercus is by far my favourite scent. I like it so much that I'm willing to let other people pay huge sums of money at Christmas and birthdays to keep me supplied with the Quercus shower gel and body cream that I use instead of perfume.
So when I picked up a sample bottle of the shampoo, I was absolutely delighted. Literally top to toe coverage of my favourite smell!
Let me give you some background to what it is.
Quercus is one of 23 scents from the long-established fine fragrance house, Penhaligon's. They've been based in London for more 130 years and have gained a well-deserved reputation for fine (i.e. expensive) perfumes. They hold Royal Warrants from the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.
Quercus is the Latin name for oak, but there's nothing oaky about this smell. I've described it previously as citrusy and woody, which sounds like a contradiction in terms but there's something very mellow about it but with a sharp edge to stop it being musky. The details on the website say it has head notes of Lemon, Lime, Mandarin and Bergamot; heart notes of Jasmine, Lily of the Valley and Cardamom and base notes of oakmoss, sandalwood, galbanum, musk and amber. It's worth noting that oil of bergamot and jasmine oil cost twice as much as gold
The practical test
Although any Penhaligon's product is primarily a fragrance rather than a body care product, the quality of the shower gel and the body cream is superb and I had high expectations of the shampoo. However, as soon as I poured it into my hand, I started to feel nervous.
Part of it is the look of the shampoo. We are conditioned to think of opaque creams as being moisturising and clear gels as being more astringent. This is a clear shampoo with a gentle yellow tinge.
Things got no better as I started to massage it into my wet hair. Instead of the rich lather I've come to expect from my normal shampoos, it barely lathered at all. In fact, it felt like those multi purpose gels you get in cheap B&Bs that are supposed to be suitable for body wash and shampoo but which aren't really suitable for either. And as I started to rinse, it felt as though every natural oil on my head was being stripped away.
Thankfully, I had some Quercus conditioner (now discontinued I believe) and I massaged some in but it was fighting a losing battle.
I could see the difference as soon as I dried my hair. My hair is quite flyaway anyway but this time it would barely hold a style and it looked much duller than usual. It smelled great, mind you, and it was lovely to keep getting a waft of the Quercus scent but that was mainly because my hair kept sticking to my face because it was so static!
And that was even after I used the conditioner.
So what's my recommendation?
Clearly, even though I love Quercus, this is not the shampoo for me. Even using the conditioner, I didn't like the effect on my hair. So why Penhaligon's would discontinue the conditioner is beyond me - if you put another conditioner on, it will destroy the Quercus scent yet I don't see how you could use this shampoo without following it with a conditioner.
I suppose if you like that feeling of squeaky clean hair and you don't have the problem of fine, flyaway hair, then you might like this. The smell of the shampoo is just as gorgeous as all the other products in the range
However, if you prefer a creamier shampoo that feels kind to your hair then you'll have to look elsewhere.
It's worth noting that Penhaligon's Quercus shampoo costs an eye watering £18 for 300ml so if you want to try it, then I suggest you look out for the sample or travel bottles before buying a full size version.