When I ran out of conditioner this morning, I had a second bottle in reserve, so it wasn't a disaster, but it was a surprise. I use a decent grocery-store brand, nothing too fancy, nothing salon, but I'm fairly loyal to it. I have an occasional fling with something else, only a dalliance here and there, but this is the one I always come back to, have for more than a decade now. But usually I use the blue variety, and this bottle was orange. It has been standing in the cupboard as back-up for too long for me to remember why I went orange rather than blue, but I knew as soon as I had a dollop of it in my palm that it was wrong.
It "uses the power of honey" which apparently is great for strong hair, so I can see why I might have given it a try. Once a month I bathe my hair in chemicals so strong they make my throat close, and then every day I all but light it on fire with extremely hot tools. And, after such torture, if a single strand still possesses enough of a rebellious streak as to not fall completely into line, I teach it not to have an original thought of its own by dousing it with treatments for frizz and flyaways. "Overprocessed" is the nice way of calling my hair what it is. Tired. Very tired. It's been told that it's never good enough, not the colour, nor the texture, nor its rate of growth, not even the way it lies on my head. So I have to prod it into assuming the qualities that a woman's hair should apparently have: lustre, shine, softness, fullness, and a flowery-fruity smell. Not unlike dessert, wherever possible.
I've been buying the blue bottle by rote for so long that I couldn't quite remember what it was supposed to have been - certainly not honey, but what? The empty bottle told me coconuts. Honey for strength, coconut for softness. Everything on a conditioner bottle is just a synonym for "nice hair". And I'm pretty sure conditioner itself is just latin for "hair placebo". At any rate, I read, as a child, probably 11 years old or so, that shampoo didn't matter because "soap is soap" but conditioner was where it's at. I have spent my life buying beauty products based on exactly that principle, which is a funny thing to do considering I lifted the advice from a magazine entitled Young Miss.
At any rate, I thought the coconuts must be a new development that I failed to pick up on. Lather, rinse, repeat. I think there used to be more jojobaness. More unpronounceables, intangibles, things that were probably made up just to flesh out the ingredient list on a bottle of conditioner and justify its pricetag.
I had a brief but torrid affair recently with the moroccan craze. Moroccan oil was going to save us all. It was at least 4 times the price, and didn't smell as nice, but if it worked, you wouldn't hear me complaining. Alas, it seems to have left my hair more or less as everything else does. Which is fine. It's fairly lovely, fairly soft, and it always smells nice. Faces have burrowed into it without complaint. But we always strive for better. After all, hair is neighbour to lashes that are always being told to be longer and lips that could aways be redder. They're all meant to be high achievers, and I buy into it. Not because I particularly want hair the consistency of glossy satin, but because for those four minutes in the shower during which I allow certain exotic oils to soak into my hair, I am giving myself a treat. A luxury. Candy for my hair.