Women’s hair products used to be obsessed with volume. Each one boasting about its ever increasing achievements in the field of bulk. No self respecting shampoo would dream of taking a shower with a young lady, unless it could make her hair the size of a barrage balloon. Two barrage balloons; three! Just one wash will make your hair swell to a coiffured grandeur fit for a courtier of Louis XIV.
Thankfully that drive for volume has now shrivelled like a punctured souffle. Instead, modern hair products obsess about the nourishment they offer. As the way people eat has changed, so has the respect that advertisers insist we pay to our hair’s dietary needs.
If you were audacious enough, you could have placed something organic in front of 90s hair. I suspect you would have met with a blank look and the flick of a voluminous lock. No, what 90s hair wanted was quantity. For a small additional sum, you could go large. 90s hair wanted the fat.
Herbal Essence is a brand of shampoo named to associate it with organic, vegetable goodness. In the 90s its main concern was that ‘organics’ sounded almost identical to the word ‘orgasmic’. Adverts for this product had more moaning in them than an acrimonious episode of Points of View.
Natural was not important. Excess was. And shampoo wanted you to know it. It sprayed volume, moaning, hot oil at people, like Caligula for follicles.
Now, shampoo is different. It still makes blonds blonder, brunettes shinier. And now, for a small additional charge, it ‘feeds’ your hair. It is nutritious, natural, nourishing.
Shampoo’s urge to place itself as one of the major food groups is because people now care more about where their food comes from. There are thousands of websites that chatter endlessly about the benefits of eating clean. Lifestyle and food are now linked more closely than ever. A stray opinion on dairy can destroy a lifelong friendship. Therefore, shampoo steps up and steals these same ideas for itself.
OK, shampoo has always led on the idea of ‘clean’ for a long time. In fact any claims that shampoo is a cleaning agent are so asinine that this benefit hardly gets mentioned.
The new vocabulary of health and well-being has come from the new food industry. In reality, fast food chains pay lip service to artisan baked bread and reduced food miles.
Behind their farmers’ market facade hides the industrialisation of the food industry. In just the same way, shampoo is still a brew of detergents and perfumes. Yet, its colours are contours continue to become smoother and more soothing. Scientists in laboratories around the world are working double shifts to make sure your hair-cleaner look appealing and colourful enough to be served as a wheatgerm smoothie.
Before, shampoo wanted to be big and brash. Now it wants to be delicious. Shampoo wants to answer your primal urges, it wants you to feel sexy, powerful, hungry. Where next, though, spiritual? Wherever you go, don’t worry, shampoo will be there with you.
Written in response to the Daily Post’s volume prompt.