Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shampoo For Dummies - 11/19/08

I had to buy shampoo today. I had run out of all the little bottles that I had stolen off of various hotel housekeeping carts through the years. Shopping for shampoo at Wal-Mart made me think about my youth.

When I was a kid, whether a person had silky smooth hair, nappy hair, or hair the texture of broom straw, there were essentially two shampoo choices. There was Prell, the most advertised product. The major selling point for Prell was that if you dropped a pearl into it, the pearl would slowly float to the bottom. This test proved how rich, thick and luxurious this shampoo was. Therefore, it would do wonders for your hair. Since pearls are not indigenous to Northern Idaho, I had to take their word for it. Using that theory, Guinness Stout, Quaker State Motor Oil, or Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup would be excellent hair products. I expect that Prell was in ninety percent of the bathrooms in America. There were other brands, but they didn’t really compete. Alberto VO5 sounded like a brand of alcoholic beverage. White Rain had perverse sexual connotations.

The other popular product was Head and Shoulders. It was not so much popular, as people bought it out of fear and shame. The advertising for it was some poor schmuck on a date and his shoulders were covered with flakes of dead skin. The commercial treated dandruff with the same disdain as head lice. Suddenly people were inspecting each other like monkeys nit-picking in a zoo. As a teenager, it was as embarrassing to buy Head and Shoulders Shampoo as it was to purchase feminine products for one’s mother. Through Head and Shoulders has since become more mainstream and has worked hard to eliminate the negative connotations. It has thrived.

In the past few years I had purchased my shampoo at Costco, where they only have a couple of choices. Well, that is kind of a lie. I think there was one purchase several years ago. When you purchase a 55 gallon drum of shampoo at Costco, it lasts quite some time. I recently bought dryer sheets there and if I do the math I am certain there will be dryer sheets in my estate. It is a bit sad when your goal in life is to outlive your Bounce.

Venturing into the Health and Beauty area of Wal-Mart was overwhelming. There were two complete aisles of shampoos and conditioners. I had used Pantene Pro-V before (even though it sounds like a brand of golf ball), so I thought I would pick up a bottle of it. Not easily done. There was nearly half an aisle of Pantene. Volume, texture, extra body, shine, full and thick, frizzy and unmanageable, moisturizing, shiny, silky, smooth, color revitalizing……………..and normal. So, what is normal? Do I have normal hair? Compared to what? And where was the Prell? There was no Prell. I don’t even know if they still make it. And when did Australia become the center of the hair care world? Half an aisle is devoted to that distant island continent.

In spite of the multitude of products available at Wal-mart, the woman who cuts my hair claims they all have the same ingredients as bathroom floor cleaner and if I use any of them my hair will fall out like a chemo patient. She recommends a product (which coincidentally she sells) that guarantees to make my hair rich, thick and luxurious (flashback to Prell). Her product also is sold by the gram, like gold. Apparently, if your shampoo is not developed by a gay man in Beverly Hills, it is crap.

Well, I selected the Pantene for normal hair. I figured that it was the most middle of the road choice, like medium salsa. I took it to the checkout and the woman who rang it up looked at the label and casually glanced up at my hair. The subtle roll of her eyes told me I had chosen the wrong product. I knew it! I should have gone with the unmanageable. At least she didn’t look at my shoulders.

Incidentally, I hate shopping at Wal-Mart, but I had to buy fishing worms anyway. An Wal-mart is a great source of worms.


Redheels said...

I remember Prell and I used it, but I read later that it was awful for your hair. It had too much detergent and caused your hair to break and be very dry. I guess I used too much conditioner to notice.
I can never decide what to wash my hair with and I'm not sure you can really believe what your stylist tells you.....they all sell what they recommend.
I enjoyed your post.

myrtle beached whale said...


Your comment about Prell being awful for your hair reminds me of a Seinfeld episode:

JERRY: Well, I'm not going to eat a cake with a hair on it.

ELAINE: It was a little hair. I took it off.

JERRY: A little hair? Do you think that makes it better?

ELAINE: What if it's your hair?

JERRY: What if it's your hair?

ELAINE: What is wrong with my hair? Nothing. Nobody takes better care of their hair than me. You can serve dinner on my head.

JERRY: Who needs misty herbal rain water crap they sell in the health food store. I use Prell, the hard stuff. A hundred proof - takes your roots out.

paisley said...

quite close to the surface of my evil little heart,,, i am hoping three fourths of the shampoo, toothpaste, cereal, cookies and feminine hygiene manufacturers go under like lead weights during these tough economic times... at least then i wont have to spend 15 minutes surveying all my options each and every time i go out to make a purchase of one of these items......

G-Man said...

Scratch all night
Scratch all day
You just can't scratch that dandruff away..
Dandruff problems are ended by Enden...


Believe it or not..they still do make husband uses is terrible! You can find it at WalMart or most grocery stores, but it is buried in between all of the hundreds of other varieties of shampoos, one little row, of maybe five or six bottles..kind of like finding a needled in a haystack. I nag my husband about it all the one time, it leaked out of the bottle, onto our shower floor, and we have very hard water....little rust build up on the bottom of the shower floor, and it took the rust up off the floor! far as Pantene goes, I use it and it is as good as some of the salon stuff, less expensive.

Shadow said...

omg. this is the shampoo then. shopping must take a while, hee hee heeee

Mary said...

I remember Prell, although you left out 1 shampoo option. I used Johnson's Baby shampoo well into my teens. It was "No More Tears" after all.

myrtle beached whale said...


You are so right. I considered mentioning "No More Tears" in this piece, but us guys would never admit to using it.

Anonymous said...

So funny! Dad, go straight for the Suave. Cheap and works just fine. Plus it's one of the only items I can search for shampoo, conditioner, body wash with the same name. Love ya Carly

Eaton Bennett said...

Prell? Never heard of it, but the pearl sinking to the bottom because it is so rich and silky would have convinced me way back when...not anymore, I have wised up to advertising. Way too many choices on your list, enough to make my head spin, but it did bring a smile to my face.

Happy TT! :)

Inland Empire Girl said...

I always wanted to use Prell, but it must have been too expensive at IGA in Kellogg because we used VO5. When Pert shampoo reached the market the original Raymond Pert the First thought he should get royalty because they were using his name for a product!

forgetfulone said...

As you can see, I'm so behind in my commenting! This sure brought back memories! My grandmother used to buy Prell. Do they even sell it anymore? I hate to admit it, but I usually stick to the store brand. Much easier on the pocketbook. Don't tell Lucy!

My dad always used Johnson's Baby Shampoo, but he probably wouldn't admit it, either.

Anonymous said...

Prell is the only shampoo that I can use with my fine,long hair that I don't have to add conditioner also. It gets my hair really clean,foams a lot and combs through easily. It is a wonderful product that really rinses out all the residue and makes your hair feel fresh all day.