Deep thoughts (and photos) by M. Scott Smith

From the Less Mature Files: The Hassle of Buying Shampoo 🔗

As an undergraduate at Drexel University in the mid-90's, I served as a columnist, contributing weekly bits of satire in an effort to amuse others or at least myself. I'm dusting off some of those columns and reprinting them here, in raw, unedited form.

In this entry, I explored the challenge of buying shampoo. I knew I would regret the first paragraph as soon as my fingers finished typing it, but I couldn't resist an easy shot at double entendre. Sure enough, as soon as I walked into class the day the article hit the presses, one of my professors couldn't help but make some witty slaps of his own.

Now I'm beginning to understand why shampoo companies don't spend a great deal of effort marketing shampoo to men: a receding hairline doesn't make for a lucrative growth market.

Oftentimes, I rely on inspiration for coming up with topic ideas for my columns. For example, just this morning I was taking a shower, and when I looked down, I was astonished by the sight and immediately inspired.

Without my contact lenses on, it was difficult to tell, but I believe I counted no less than eight different types of shampoos and conditioners lining the shower wall. I'm not sure where they all came from. I can only assume that when I leave the bathroom and turn the lights off, some type of shampoo mitosis occurs.

With my mind on shampoo, I began to think of how difficult it is for men to shop for shampoo. This, despite the fact that most supermarkets have an entire aisle full of shampoo and conditioner products.

Did you ever notice how none of these products seem to be geared towards men? This is a serious problem. I don't know what type of shampoo I should be buying.

The only "masculine" shampoo I can think of is Head and Shoulders, which presumably is for men (and women) who have hair on their head and shoulders.

After all, Head and Shoulders has the only shampoo commercial which features men using the shampoo, although another shampoo commercial has Cindy Crawford kissing men of various ages, which no doubt resulted in her splitting up with Richard Gere and does little to allay the confusion.

All shampoos are composed of oil and gook, but the ingredient labels often claim there are traces of other ingredients, such as chamomile flower leaves, aloe and lanolin, mangoes, and eucalyptus. Shampoos invariably smell like strawberries, or fields of wild flowers, or oil and gook.

Some shampoos claim to be pH-balanced, although even chemistry professors are pressed to explain what that means. One's mind immediately wanders to Secret deodorant, which, as we know, is "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." With messages like that, how can we men not be confused about purchasing personal hygiene products?

If Secret is strong enough for a man, can't men use it? How is it made for women? Oh yes, it's pH-balanced for women. Again, blank expressions from chemistry professors.

It's amazing how many technological breakthroughs have occurred with shampoos.

There are some shampoos that automatically stop conditioning your hair when sophisticated micro circuitry within the shampoo determines that your hair is optimally conditioned.

The engineers of Deep Blue, the computer that recently lost a chess match to world chess champion Garry Kasparov, should take note of this.

To compound the confusion even further, there are shampoos for different hair types.

For example, most shampoos come in different versions for perm-damaged hair, oily hair, dry hair, overstyled hair, understyled hair, dry perm-damaged hair and dry and oily overstyled perm-damaged hair. As far as I know, I have hair on my head, but I'd be pressed to come up with many adjectives for describing it besides "brown."

Some shampoos have pro-vitamins. Again, blank looks from chemistry professors.

Then there are "salon-style" shampoos, which I can only guess come with a 1-800 number you can call to have a professional hairdresser come to your house and shampoo your hair, perhaps charging extra money to blow dry it.

Well, it's impossible to talk about shampoos without talking about bubble bath (just try!), and I'd like to publicly admit that I occasionally use bubble bath.

Not in a while - I only use it when my bathtub is clean, and usually there is some type of vegetation evolving in it. Which is dandy for creating inexpensive salads when pressed for time.

Bubble bath is also composed of oil and gook, but the bottles feature popular children characters such as the Power Rangers, Ernie and Bert or Steven Forbes.

The bottles also contain useful warnings informing you that if your skin breaks out into hideous rashes that cause your friends to scream and flee in terror, you should discontinue use of the product.

M. Scott Smith is a senior majoring in computer science. He takes two showers a day, and has no idea what a split end is.

- By M. Scott Smith, February 23, 1996. All rights reserved.

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