Grease is the Word

Recently Gareth and I were watching Local Hero, a great old Scottish movie. Well, 1983 isn't really old in the scheme of things, but the bad suits and telex machines were alarmingly quaint.

Anyway, there's a scene where the dude walks into the wee shop and asks for shampoo. The shopkeeper says, "Normal or Greasy?"

"Greasy?" I said, "Did you really call it Greasy over here?"

"Oh aye," said Gareth. His eyes became misty, recalling the distant days when he still needed shampoo. "Dry, Normal or Greasy."

"I see. It used to be Dry, Normal or Oily in Australia."

Married couple banter is so scintillating.

But seriously, whatever happened to Oily and Greasy shampoo? You just don't get that anymore. Somewhere along the line the marketeers decided that we were too delicate for such a direct and nasty label, so it was softened down to Frequent or Regular Use.

Personally I have wispy, pathetic locks so I look for words like Fine or Volume or Body. What else can you do, really, when there's ten dozen different brands with basically the same ingredients? I sift through the crowd looking for the most convincing copywriting, the most reassuring adjectives, the biggest ego boost. Hmm, this one claims bounce and shine but this one promises a just-out-of-the-salon feeling. What to do? WHAT TO DO!?

(TANGENT:  Dove and their Real Beauty Campaign. Yes, that's all very dandy to use Real Chicks in your advertising. I know you're trying to make me feel good about myself, Just The Way I Am. But somehow I'm even less inclined to buy your stuff because it's like you're that bitch in the playground at school who says nice things to me so I'll do her bidding. Like, you don't really think I'm pretty, do you? You're only saying it so I'll buy your goodies. Ha ha ha)

The other day I was shopping for groceries online and "browsing" the shampoo "aisle". It's impossible to do my usual label analysis because all you have is a fuzzy JPG of the bottle. So I randomly clicked on Garnier Fructis Body & Volume. It was only when it arrived the next day that I saw the soul-crushing subtitle, FOR FLAT, LIFELESS HAIR.

Boycott! Boycott!

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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20 thoughts on “Grease is the Word

  1. “Pure Cleanse” is how my oily hair shampoo describes itself nowadays. It’s all very PC.

  2. Oh no! I use that very Fructis shampoo! And I bought it precisely because it said it was for flat, lifeless hair – what does that say about me? I am capable of being bullied by a shampoo bottle? I have no self-esteem? I have flat, lifeless hair? Ermm, all of the above I suspect! (The shampoo is quite good actually. Although speaking as the only woman I know who doesn’t own a hairdryer, why would you take hair advice from me?)

  3. I just wanted to say that Local Hero is one of my favourite British films, right up there with Waking Ned Devine. And the soundtrack? Love it. I haven’t seen the movie in ages but I think I’ll keep an eye out next time I’m at Video Ezy!

  4. I haven’t bought liquid shampoo in years… I got converted to Lush shampoo bars and will never willingly go back. If you can get past the fug in the shop, it’s really worth it. Ultimate Shine is my favourite.

    (I will shut up before I feel driven to waffle on about hair care for half an hour.)

    But yes, the bottles did say “For Greasy Hair”. Ah teenage years.

  5. I remember in the late 70s or early 80s here, there was a brand called Agree that was supposed to “get rid of the greasies.” It was advertised heavily in Seventeen magazine, along with “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.”

  6. Jen, I remember Agree Shampoo! I loved the scent. I remember one time they were giving away a car and put plastic key’s inside the bottle.

    If your key turns on the car, you own it. Yeah right!

  7. Totally agree with the Dove etc advertising campagin interpretation. It’s all rather underwhelming.

    I’m currently using some expensive ‘Shampure’ on my hair. I bought it because I liked the name.

  8. I’m with K on the Lush shampoo bars… and you don’t have to walk into the fug smelling store when you order online!! Thanks for the reminder, Visa raised my limit and it’s time for more…

  9. I am currently undertaking the great unwashed experiment.
    My hair looks like seaweed, but gee I’m saving on the shampoo.

    (Actually, its not so much dirty as just unattractive. A dunk in the sea every day does wonders))

  10. Doesn’t sound any more subtle her in France, mine says “pour cheveux gras”.
    And wasn’t it that village in Local Hero that was engulfed by a massive mudslide a couple of weeks ago?

  11. Oh no! Who will they cast as the psychopath lady in movies without gingers?

    Lesley – it sure was, that looked bloody scary too!

  12. I absolutely love “Local Hero” – one of my all time favorites. Funnily enough, I just purchased a bottle of the ‘flat, lifeless’ type of shampoo for my son with stick-straight hair as he went off to university.

  13. Oh, oh – I know someone whose Claim to Fame is appearing in Local Hero. She’s a small dancing Scottish child (in the film, not now). Haven’t seen it myself yet, though.

  14. I can think of a couple more reasons to boycott them.
    They recently got in trouble for hiring only white French models and no immigrants as models.
    They test on animals!
    I only found that out after I’d bought some products so now like you I’m stuck with it!

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