Shampoo is Shampoo is Shampoo is Shampoo.
Well that’s according to this weeks Gruen Transfer (Popular Australian show that dissects the tricks and tactics of the advertising agency) and in some ways we agree.
The Chemistry Of Shampoo
You see the main point of a shampoo is to clean the hair and as that benefit is quickly and cheaply achieved by using a couple of cleaning agents (we call these surfactants and the most effective, cheap and widespread are still Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate). However,don’t be fooled shampoo is NOT all about cleaning the hair. Like everything else that seems to need selling these days it is about sex, aspirations, our lifestyle, aesthetic beauty, youth, health, elitism, environmental activism and many other isms that I can’t possibly recall right now….
Shampoo has long since been all about getting clean and in fact, getting too clean is now called ‘stripping’ the hair and many shampoos pride themselves as being ‘mild’ (or not as effective but we don’t mind because mild = nice, soft, babies, peaches whereas stripping = harsh, chemical, over-the-top, itchy and flaky). These days there is big money to be made in fixing problems that we probably don’t have anyway. This is called marketing.
Problem – Dry hair.
Product Solution – Wash it with a shampoo (capable of stripping grease out) that contains a conditioning agent (silicone, quat, protene).
OR alternatively you can Either wash your hair less often OR refrain from using implements such as hot irons, hair dryers, curlers and gloop to tease your mop into an artistic Dr Seuss-esque sculpture.
So yes, at the heart of it shampoos are all basically the same and yes it is true that they only bubble like they do because we like it (we put foam boosters in to get the bubbles right and test them for size, creaminess, density and persistency) BUT it is also true that on top of all of that are some funky little ingredients that may just be worth it.
Little ‘added extras’ such as keratin, silicones, amin0-acids, UV filters and vegetable oils do help to make your newly washed hair less static, more shiny, smoother feeling, quicker to dry, more protected, stronger or easier to style. As tempting as it is to think that these are just another bunch of marketing hype, when used at the right levels these things can help keep your hair looking and feeling great-ish.
So it is true that shampoo is shampoo is shampoo is shampoo if all you want to do is get your hair clean but how many of us just want to do that?