When I was a teenager, I would sit for very long periods of time, hunting down split ends and chopping them off with one quick snip. I would go to the bathroom drawer and retrieve the little silver scissors and park myself in the living room where the sun came streaming in, letting it hit me right in the face. It would illuminate the split ends. I could find them and kill them. It just wasn’t me. All my friends were OCD about split ends. It did help, I should mention, that I had long hair. Much easier to find them.
I could actually see Lori, who lived across the street, sitting in her picture window, looking at her split ends. Did I get the idea from her or did she get the idea from me? I don’t know. All I know is that it was a problem. A big problem.
I blame the commercials that we watched in the late sixties and early seventies. Now, remember, we only had three channels, so we had to watch and believe the commercials. The shampoo people kept telling us that split ends were a big problem. So, it must be a very big deal. I remember watching the first commercial about split ends and then rushing to the bathroom to look for them. Dear God, there’s one! Shit, there’s another one! I had split ends! I asked my mom to take me to the store immediately to buy some Breck shampoo. It would save my hair.
“Vickie, they are just trying to get you to buy their shampoo. There is nothing wrong with the Head and Shoulders that we all use.”
Head and freaking Shoulders. I hated that shampoo. It reminded me of toothpaste. I used to try and waste it so that my mom would relent and finally buy something else.
Now that I think about it, we had quite the hair products back in the day. I think that I finally tried every shampoo that came out on the market. Notice I said, “finally.” It took my mom awhile to abandon her precious Head and Shoulders. I apologize to those ardent Head and Shoulders shampoo users, but I just couldn’t take it any longer. It may have been the choice for mom and dad, but oh hell, not for a teenager. Teenagers did not want to use Head and Shoulders. My time to revolt was near.
Well, because I had split ends. No one was ever going to ask me out. Okay, maybe, I exaggerated just a bit. That’s what teen-age girls do. And if I didn’t get some Breck shampoo soon, I was going to be one big split end.
Not that I took great care of my hair. I was not nice to my hair. I started by putting Sun-In on my head when I was in seventh grade. I used Dippity Doo when I rolled my hair.
I used PSSSSSSt, the dry shampoo when I didn’t feel like washing my hair. I was such a dirt ball.
But, Psssssst gave me a great idea. I decided to perform an experiment on my mom. I did it on a weekend so I wouldn’t get looks at school. Surely, this would help.
“Vickie, you need to go take your shower. It’s almost time to leave.”
“Mom, I took my shower about 2 hours ago.”
“Did you wash your hair?”
“Yeah. It gets so oily, you know I have to wash it every day.”
And out of the room I walked. I didn’t wash my hair. I took a shower and unscrewed the Head and Shoulders to make it look like I used it. I knew she would check. I didn’t wash it on Sunday either.
“Vickie, My God. Wash your hair!”
“MOM!!! I did wash my hair. You heard me in the shower.”
“There is no way that you washed your hair. It is filthy!”
“It’s that stupid shampoo you are buying. It makes my hair oily. Please buy something else.”
My dad, who always seemed to be either reading a newspaper or sitting downstairs in his garage where he didn’t have to face the rolling pin woman, knew what I was up to. He left to go show a house, as he was a realtor, but when he returned, he put his finger up to his mouth and handed me a bottle of Lemon Up. Yay, Dad. It wasn’t Breck shampoo, but it also wasn’t Head and Shoulders. I was a happy camper. Maybe the Lemon Up would help my split ends problem.
So, the next morning, I came upstairs, ready to eat some breakfast and head to the bus stop. My mom looked at me like she caught me with my hand in the cookie jar.
“I see your hair is miraculously clean today. How surprising for such a horrible shampoo.”
“Dad bought me a great shampoo yesterday. Lemon Up. It really really helped my oily hair. Look how shiny my hair is.” I moved my long hair like I was in a commercial. Just look at what this shampoo has done for my “Let’s fry some french fries on my oily mat of a head”. And with that I walked out of the house and never had to use Head and Toothpaste again.
There were many great shampoos in the seventies. Here are just a couple of other shampoos that were popular when I was obsessing over my split ends.
1. Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific- Yep, that was the name of the shampoo. The commercial is what really sold us on this shampoo. Get a nice looking guy to smell your hair and say, “Gee, your hair smells terrific!” Off to the store we would go.
2. Lemon Up- This was one of my favorite shampoos. And not because it and my dad rescued my hair from a life of toothpaste shampoo. I liked smelling squeaky clean, like a lemon. I swear this was the best shampoo ever made.
3. Breck- Everyone wanted to be a Breck girl. The first Breck girl was Cheryl Tiegs in 1968. Cybill Shepherd, Jaclyn Smith, Kim Bassinger, and Brooke Shields were other Breck girls in that 1968-1974 time frame. The commercials made me realize that if I used that shampoo, I too, could be a Breck girl.
There were other great shampoos, such as Body on Tap, Yucca Dew, Protein 21, No More Tangles, Long and Silky, Short and Sassy, Agree, and Milk Plus 6. We smelled great.
Breck, though, was THE shampoo for split ends. I know this to be true because of the commercials with the beautiful hair. This shampoo sort of glued the split ends back together. I was able to put my silver scissors back in the bathroom drawer for a while.
Well, until I discovered the ironing board. We started ironing our hair. I would plug my mom’s iron in, lie my hair down on the ironing board, put a thin towel over my hair, and iron away. Stick straight. I loved it. Nowadays, girls are able to use a flat iron. Sure, it works the same, but our way was more…..dangerous. We took dangerous steps to have beautiful hair. I burnt my ears, my fingers, and tinged my hair several times. Oh, the price of beauty.
I don’t care anymore if I have split ends. Those are the least of my hair worries. I am graying. I guess that happens as one ages.