Back to the Basics

My latest haircare discovery costs $1.29. Pictured to the right is the upscale version of it. Yep, you got it — corn starch. If you want to trace back the blame for this idea (and you should always assign blame), I’d say it goes back circa 1995 when some Allure editor started to slip in advice from haircare gurus that washing your hair daily strips it of its natural oils and to keep it healthy, you should wait a few days between shampoos. Over the seven years following that I made at least ten failed attempts to convert from daily hair-washing, all thwarted by the fact that I could smell my hair. I really didn’t want to smell like hair.

It wasn’t til I had kids that I successfully made the transition — driven mostly by fatigue and a general loss of will (this was also around the time I started driving a mini-van and favoring elastic waistbands). Still, I was really turned off by the hair smell — I just feel like we’re beyond the evolutionary stage where it’s necessary to smell distinctly human. So I experimented with multitudes of dry shampoos, all of which were either too medicinal (some actually had copy that read “For hospital patients who can’t get out of bed”), too disgusting or had faulty packaging (the Oscar Blandi spray shampoo was the best of the bunch, but the nozzle never failed to get stuck and let all the aerosol out). I eventually moved over to baby powder, which worked just as well, but left me smelling a little too babyish and, at worst, like a baby that smelled like hair (plus, isn’t talc a carcinogen when inhaled?). I’m thinking fragrances + hair smell just don’t cancel each other out.

So a few weeks ago I tried the corn starch. And yes, the stuff right off the grocery store shelf, and the same stuff I use to thicken up gravy in the kitchen. It was good. It didn’t result in a sickening medieval-era effect of covering a bad smell with a perfume; it just neutralized the smell. It can be a bit tricky to get onto the scalp without also getting all over my clothes, but I’m sure I’ll master that at some point. Perhaps Eddie, who just moved to Oregon, might have time now to experiment in that regard and advise me on the best dispensing method?

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