Thursday, March 19, 2009

Total Sham: Do you douche?

NPR featured a piece this morning on America's fascination with washing our hair. Apparently, we exceed the number of average per week hair washings in Spain and Italy by two to three and compared to our ancestors at the turn of the century, we wash our hair 28-29 times more a month! Jesus Christ! Can you even imagine? Washing your hair once a month?!

I'm pretty particular about my hair and the products I used to scrub it. I'm willing to surrender if stock is low at the store and buy something else, but generally I'm faithful to one brand, and one brand only - Neutrogena. When I was a teenager, my hair was that wild and awful combination of oily and dry, so once a month I would spend a week washing my hair with plain ol' Neutrogena, which would essentially strip my hair of every single impurity within a 50 mile radius. Then about two weeks later, I'd do one of those hot and sexy (and oh-so-90s) VO5 hot oil treatments. I blamed all of my hair woes on my Aunt who gave me a perm when I hit puberty. I was convinced that the perm just about totaled my hair and like a car, you could take it in and fix the cosmetic damage, but the car what still a piece of crap. My hair would likely never survive.

But, just like I've told my mom whenever she gasps at the blonde highlights I've added, the neat thing about hair is that it grows from the roots rather than the ends which means OMG NEW HAIR in about as long as it takes your hair to grow. And my hair grew, and then I cut it hella short and kept it that way for years and years. About six or eight months ago, I started growing my hair out and all of the angst and stress I had about hair in my adolescence is back again, including the general fear that it is either too frizzy, like a grease-slick, or just generally weird and unattractive. I shampoo my hair daily, unless I wake up late, and dry it because if I don't dry it I look like little orphan Annie or like the redheaded sister to Beetlejuice (minus the fitted suit). And all of this stress is really making it hard for me to love my hair.

This weekend I think I'm going to stock back up on my Neutrogena, and while I'll probably skip the hot and sexy VO5 treatment, I do think that getting back to my roots (pun intended) and treating my hair nicely will probably help to restore my faith in its ability to be long and not scraggly. This might allow me, in a few weeks or months, to not shampoo my hair as often. When I lived in Switzerland, I lived with two adults who were rather "against the grain" when it came to personal hygiene, and they insisted on showering twice daily. I didn't feel guilty for being an indulgent American. (And I will say that, for a myriad of reasons, the fact the Europeans do not wash their hair does not make them a stinky continent. On the contrary, it is their aversion to anti-persperant that makes them a delightfully fragrant place.) Jeanne Haegele, of Life Less Plastic, was featured in the piece because she aimed to rid her life of products that come in plastic packaging. She scrubbed and rinsed her hair periodically for a month with baking soda and vinegar. She said that no one seemed to notice that she smelled like a "pickle" but that she did develop a righteous case of dandruff. Is our compulsion to wash our hair all the time, including when we want to avoid dates with losers, becoming evolutionarily imperative?

What do you use to wash your hair? Do you have any special rituals or products? How often do you wash your hair a week? Answer in the comments, y'all!


  1. Meaghan, I can totally relate. When I was growing up, my hair was shiny and had natural curl to it, but when we moved to Germany, something in water changed my hair. I became a frizz ball of ridiculousness and going through middle school without a hair straightener was a nightmare.

    I tried everything I could. Mayo in the hair, eggs (which cooked when I rinsed it with warm water) and even beer. Nothing worked and I was a complete disaster.

    Luckily I discovered that putting heat on it helped, so my curling iron became my lifeline.

    Anyway, I wanted to share a few things that seem to help my hair these days, as it's still a mess, I just do a better job of hiding it.

    Try JOICO's K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor. It's a "once a week product," but it works.

    I also recommend "potion #9" to use as "product." It's a leave in treatment that I use on the daily. Just be careful not to use too much or you'll get sticky hair.

    Good luck!

  2. I have Very Shiny Asian Hair, and when I lived at home, I used all the Paul Mitchell and Biolage products my hairdresser mother brought home. My hair became Blindingly Shiny Asian Hair, which was great, except I have an oily, dandruffy scalp. So, I usually did head and shoulders a couple times a week, and all the other stuff the rest of the time. When I moved out, I couldn't afford salon products, so I alternated with either Pantene or Herbal Essences. Now that I'm back, I use whatever's around, be it my own Pantene investments, or stray bottles of Paul Mitchell. I got a perm a few months ago, so my hair isn't so shiny, but I find that it's much more managable. Over the years, I've found that washing my hair every other day is best for keeping my scalp in balance. I know it's weird and most people do it every day, but I become a disgusting flaky snowball if I do that.

  3. My favorite shampoo as a kid/teen was V05 Citrus. They don't make it anymore. There is a new V05 Citrus-Grapefruit or something but it isn't the same. I even put some of the shampoo on my neck and wrists just to inhale that luscious fruity smell.

    I now only use Pantene. It doesn't do anything for my hair, but it doesn't not do anything for my hair either. I guess as an adult over 35 I have low haircare product expectations.


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