Tuesday, January 3, 2012

For the birds

So many things about my daughter’s life seem unfamiliar. But sometimes a fad arises like a phoenix straight out of my own youth. The latest: dry shampoo.

It took a good deal of effort and time to stretch my kinky hair over orange-juice cans or wrap it around my head with clippies, then cook it smooth under a hooded dryer. To space out the ordeal by a day or so, on the third day I would sprinkle my roots with baby powder, let it absorb the oil, then brush it through. The final effect was a little gross: the fragrance of dirty hair and baby powder, the dusty look of fine dandruff. But it kind of worked at controlling the exuberant oiliness of adolescence.

My daughter’s standards are far higher than mine ever were, so even though contemporary tools are more sophisticated—high-tech unguents, professional straightening irons, specialized brushes—the process still eats up time. So she’s tried corn starch, baby powder and, now, a commercial line of dry shampoos. 

But here’s the thing: the notion of dry shampooing has been around for centuries, but it always get abandoned, because it doesn’t do the job as well as the real thing. Unless of course you’re a bird.

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