Product review: Best Shot

Product Review: Best Shot System

Photo courtesy of my back deck. No products were injured or fell to their deaths in the course of this action scene. Disclaimer: No payola, no plugola, no swag. I paid full price and have nothing to do with the company.

From time to time I thought I’d review some of the “professional” products that are actually very available to the average dog consumer. You just have to mail-order them rather than buy them off the shelf. Most pet supply stores carry only a few grooming lines, and (unfortunately) most of what they carry is low-end. Doesn’t mean it’s crap, necessarily, but you won’t get the results or scents or ingredients that are found in the trade market. Since I came back from Groom Expo 2008 with a laundry basket full of stuff, I have been having fun using it and seeing if I like it.

Here’s today’s subject:

Ginevra Molly Weasley, fondly known as Ginny.

Ginny is a Papillon/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a designer-dog rescue we got from the Hartford, CT, pound. She has a cherry eye; that’s what you see in the corner of that one eye. It doesn’t hurt her and is just cosmetic. We’re going to try to have it fixed when she is spayed but for now it just looks a little weird.

Ginny’s coat is what some groomers call “vinyl.” It’s mostly topcoat, very sleek, and rarely tangles. The exception is the coat on and behind her ears, which is undercoat and very long. That commonly tangles and mats.

And then there is her tail.

Ginny has more tail than she has body. Seriously. The hair on her tail is as longer than she is tall. And, of course, she’s got more undercoat on her “pants,” which is the long hair on the back of her legs.

So Ginny needs a grooming routine that will clean, whiten (but not bleach her red), condition, and de-mat. Her coat is soft already so it doesn’t matter if it gets softer (the Cardigans, on the other hand, rely on hard texture and harsh, stand-off coat to keep them dry and warm, so they can’t have any grooming product that softens hair).

An ideal grooming spray for her will have silicone, which coats each hair shaft and makes them slip past each other. A rough hair shaft hangs up on other hairs, and over time that’s what causes matting. It’s just like felting wool; rubbing hairs together makes them attach firmly to each other and the result is a tangle that is extremely difficult to reduce. So we need Ginny’s hairs to have a lot of “slip” and a shiny cuticle.

I grabbed the Best Shot system at Groom Expo because it’s rather famous for enabling de-matting where you’d think it would be impossible. Ginny got to be my first victim.

Shampoo: Low-sudsing (do not be fooled; don’t use a lot. It doesn’t have lots of foaming agents so it won’t have those big luxurious suds, but it’s still working). The smell is not great–it’s a little antiseptic (my husband said “Huh, she smells like old lady”) and industrial. It’s definitely not sugar cookies. The soap dissolves easily, provides a little bit of suds but not much, rinses quickly. Aside from the smell I am definitely a fan.

Conditioner: Again, the smell is a bit off-putting but the product dissolves easily in water. I poured it through, worked it in for about 60 seconds, rinsed.

Towel dry before using the spray. As I toweled her I was amazed at how white her whites had gotten. I don’t usually get a great result without using purple whitening shampoo, but this was very nice.

Light spray of the mist all over, then a thorough grooming. I immediately noticed that the comb went through her hair more easily. There was no drag, no skipping of the comb, but the coat was not heavy or greasy.

We let her air-dry and the result was really quite lovely. The scent of the products went away completely as soon as she was dry. The undercoat behind her ears and on her pants was perfectly smooth and tangle-free. As I write this, a week has gone by since that bath and she still has no tangling in those areas. Her tail combed out beautifully and has stayed perfect.

Pros: Does what it says. De-mats, keeps mats from coming back. Low sudsing. Disclosure of ingredients (I find this very important). A surprising amount of whitening action for a non-whitening shampoo.

Cons: Scent is not my favorite by a long shot. Does appreciably soften and sleeken coat, so would be inappropriate for coats that must be harsh. I am going to try the shampoo and mist (no conditioner) on the corgis to see if that makes as much of a difference, because I love the mist a bunch.

Verdict: Highly recommended for soft coats and drop coats. For example, I’d love to try this on a spaniel or a Golden. Just try to ignore the scent–or lack thereof–until the dog is dry.

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