Regrettable Products for The Hair, Part I
Back in the day when I was a teenager and tv commercials encouraged us to smell like lemons or babies or weeds (and by weeds I mean back when it was called Herbal Essence without the extra "s" and it only came in a green color that smelled exactly like a vacant lot full of milkweed after it's been cut with a dull lawnmower blade. It makes me itch just to think about it), it was considered gauche to confess to the hours and hours of hair prep time it took to resemble a young hippie who took the 6-year "shortcut" back home from Woodstock. We were into simplicity. Before we fell victim to Farrah Fawcett's high-maintenance "winged" look, straight hair was in. Parted in the middle. To the shoulders or longer. Maybe held back with two barrettes, but nothing more.
We Caucasian girls spent hours rinsing our locks in everything from lemon juice to vinegar to beer in order to maintain "squeaky clean " appearance that signaled to all an oil-free pate that was worthy of a Seventeen Magazine cover. Lucky was the girl who wasn't cursed with overactive oil glands which practically demanded a daily shampoo. Those who only had to shampoo every other day were the envy of us all...until now, of course, when we realize that a lot of oil THEN meant fewer wrinkles NOW. Yeah...I'm rocking that reality...thank God. Sorry, Dad, for cursing you then about inheriting the oily skin. But...back to the hair.
Genetics helped some of those girls skip a day of shampooing, but the makers of haircare products in the 1970s were still pulling all-nighters to come up with this particular aerosol atrocity which promised similar results:
PSSSSST! Spray it on and hope to God that no one knows that you are too lazy to haul your hormonal ass into the shower and scrape the funk off of your coif and that whatever was in the can could give you back 24 hours of "clean hair". Or the appearance thereof. How could we have been so stupid?
Actually, it was a little like carpet cleaner designed to absorb whatever was on your hair and then...you could magically brush it out. Uh...maybe not so much. It was spray-on powder...just like the deodorant you used to spritz under your arms. THAT stuff was supposed to absorb the perspiration in your "pits" and leave behind a fresh scent. Most likely, we were using the same product in two different places on our bodies. I'm trying not to dwell on it. Really.
I didn't use PSSSSST! I used a dreadful and much cheaper product invented in the 1950s called MiniPoo which was still on the market in 1980. If you look for a Google Image of MiniPoo, you'll either get a picture of dog shampoo products or a smal pile of animal excrement. I've checked. For all I know, MiniPoo was--in reality-- a combination of both.
It was a talcum powder that you were supposed to sprinkle on the oiliest part of your hair and then brush it out. The bonus? It was a light brown color so that one didn't end up looking like Thomas Jefferson in a powdered wig. The bad thing? Well, let's just say that if dirt and water make mud, the process of mixing oil and tan-colored powder makes something similar and equally unattractive when spotted in clumps near the part in your hair. And brushing it out of your hair was a DELIGHT that required permission from the EPA and your own personal "Hazmat" suit. Have I mentioned the joy of scratching later on and coming up with brown fingernails? It looked exactly as though one had walked for hours through a sandstorm only to arrive completely coated and just in time for a brisk walk through the sprinkler.
I'm just saying that beauty, as well as the pursuit of it, is a cruel, cruel joke and women have been its unwitting victims for years. Personally, I tried it all. The mucous-based Dippity-Do which dried to a light petroleum sheen while your hair was in rollers and then--later-- drifted onto your shoulders in a virtual snowstorm of plastic dandruff.
The Clairol Kindness hot roller set (don't be fooled for an instant by the name Kindness), which were hard, pointy and unforgiving rolls of heated plastic with metal interiors that melted off one's fingerprints during the roll-up and which felt exactly like you were wearing a tiara of cranky baby porcupines that someone had thoughtfully set aflame after fixing them to your scalp with U-shaped metal clips the size of horseshoes.
And Nair Depilatory...for removing unwanted leg hair because we were...again...too lazy to shave and had not yet met/married the former archaeologist/man of our dreams who didn't care if you shaved or not. No one told me about the eye-watering fumes that smelled as though someone had accidentally left a bucket of rotten eggs in a hot closet. And the rule about not using it with open cuts (Hmm. Like those earned from a shaky encounter with a razor???) wasn't a joke. The burning and...I'm pretty sure I saw puffs of smoke...made quite an impression on my young mind.
Ahh yes...good times.
What torture methods did you endure as a teenager to preserve your "natural look"?