Shampoo: A Reminiscence

I hate buying shampoo.

I mean, it’s nice to have clean hair and all, and I am grateful for the existence of shampoo. But if you ever actually take a moment to look at the huge number of varieties of shampoo available at your local retailer, you might see what I mean when I say I hate shampoo shopping.

It really is overwhelming. Which brand to choose? Which variety of said brand? Do I want volume, or smoothness, or moisturization, or frizz control, or what? And once I find some shampoo and conditioner that I like, chances are awfully good that exact kind won’t even be available in a few months. The haircare market changes at lightning-quick speed.

I’d say it makes me want to tear my hair out, but frustrating though shampoo shopping may be, I prefer to keep and deal with my hair, thank you very much.

So the last time I made my foray down the shampoo aisle, it was at K-Mart. No offense to K-Mart, but K-Mart is weird. You can find some oddball stuff at K-Mart. I like K-Mart. I just don’t get there too often because there isn’t one on my end of town. When we lived in Indiana and in North Carolina, though, I shopped at K-Mart a lot; I always found some great bargains there.

Anyway, so there I was at K-Mart, thinking I would just buzz down the shampoo aisle and pick up some something—you know, whatever sounded good. Right—as if past record shows this is how it happens.

I’m sure I stood there for a good 15 minutes trying to figure out what to buy.

Over the past few years, I’ve used several different brands of shampoo—Pantene, Garnier Fructis, Dove, Suave, Aussie, Sunsilk, Herbal Essences, Loreal Vive, Pert Plus. They’re all pretty much the same. Remember when they used to say not to use the same shampoo all the time because it would build up on your hair and eventually not be as effective? Remember how they’d recommend using “clarifying” shampoos every so often? (“They” being the beauty editors of magazines, who are paid to endorse various products.) Well, that kind of stuck in my head, and so I always try to switch around. I also alternate between shampoos and conditioners geared towards curly hair and those geared towards dry/damaged hair. Mine is curly and dry, so you see the dilemma.

I noticed at K-Mart that they still sell Prell. Remember Prell? That translucent bright green shampoo that smells like green apples? My grandparents always used that. It used to come in a glass bottle and would get very slippery in the tub; it was sometimes difficult to get the cap off. (This was in the days prior to flip-top caps.) I recall reading—and I believe this, absolutely, as my own experience at Grandma’s bears it out—that Prell is nearly as harsh on hair as dish detergent; it strips all the natural oils. Christie Brinkley used to be in all the Prell ads. Maybe her hair was oily enough to warrant a good sudsing with Prell, but mine isn’t. Stripping of natural oils is not something a person with very dry hair needs. So I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, but I did not buy the Prell.

Guess what I did find, though? Finesse! “Sometimes you need a little Finesse; sometimes you need a lot!” That was the little jingle from the commercials, and it actually says that on the bottle. This is a two-in-one version, which is described as “self-adjusting.” I guess this means that the shampoo has some kind of intelligence that enables it to figure out which parts of your hair are driest and need most conditioning and which parts are oily and need less.

Whatever. I was keen on the 2-in-1 thing that day, because I was having trouble locating matching pairs of shampoo and conditioner in some of the other brands. They’d have the curly hair (or dry hair) conditioner but not the shampoo, or vice versa. Finesse seemed to solve all my problems. And it smells good. I remember a girl I knew at the apartment complex in Indiana; she had this really nice-but-hyper dog named Korby, and Korby always had really soft, smell-good fur. When I asked her what she used to wash the dog, she told me, “Finesse!”

So the other day I was in the shower, washing my hair with Finesse, and I got to reminiscing about some of the shampoos that used to be big in the “old days” (i.e., the 80s and 90s). Do you remember any of these?

  • White Rain I was using this shampoo (and the White Rain hair spray) in 8th grade, when I had one of my first really super huge crushes. They still make White Rain, but not like they used to; but every time I smell something that has that same fragrance, I remember how I used to feel when I was near that boy—how aware of myself (and him!) I was.
  • Hälsa Remember those commercials, will all the sunshine, and those women with the long, flowing, wavy blonde hair? “Hälsa hair – uncover your highlights! Hälsa hair – discover your glow! Hälsa hair!” They had formulations for blonde, red, and brown hair. I seem to recall the “blonde” version smelled like chamomile. I wonder what ever happened to that brand? Do they still sell it in Scandinavia?
  • Agree I think we maybe had this around a time or two. They sure had a lot of advertising on TV and in magazines.
  • Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific! Remember those ridiculous commercials? Not sure I ever used that shampoo. If it really smelled so good, I wonder how it managed to go out of style? (Maybe the ridiculous commercials had something to do with it; or maybe it’s still selling…..somewhere.)
  • Flex, by Revlon They might still make this. They used to have one that was “balsam” scented, which I really liked; it made my hair very soft.
  • Fabrégé Organics (not sure if I spelled that right) My uncle John used to sell this brand, and he once gave us a whole bunch of little samples of shampoo and conditioner. This was when I was still in elementary school and we were in our old house. I had my own bathroom (wasn’t I lucky?), and in my closet there was a whole huge Schwann’s ice cream bucket filled with samples of Fabrégé Organics shampoos and conditioners. They were nice, I guess, but I have to confess I got really, really sick of them…….hmmmm…..maybe here is where we have the true origins of my unwillingness to buy the same brand of shampoo twice in a row?!
  • Breck I think the “Breck girl” thing was before my time. I used this shampoo once, a long time ago. I seem to recall it was a bit like the Prell—left my hair a bit too squeaky. I do believe you can still get Breck, though—at Dollar Tree.
  • Salon Selectives Now we’re really moving into the ’90s. I remember how popular this brand was, but Mom would never buy it because she said she didn’t want her head smelling like a fruit salad. I did end up purchasing it for myself in college. Eventually, I understood what she meant. I’m not big on fruit-salad-head, either. Maybe that’s why they don’t make Salon Selectives anymore? But it was such a hugely popular brand. What happened?

I can’t think of any more at the moment. Do you have any shampoo reminiscences to share? What brands do you remember? Do tell!

UPDATE: Not long after I wrote this post, I found an ad in my Sunday coupon flyer for Salon Selectives! Apparently, it’s back!   I wonder if it will still smell like fruit salad???


35 responses to this post.

  1. Oh yes, I remember a few of those shampoos now that you mention the names. When I was a kid I always used Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. When I smell it today, it always brings back memories. My brother always used Prell. As I got older, I started using Clairol Herbal Essence. I used that original green stuff. I don’t think they make it anymore even though I see lots of the other scents. For the longest time, probably in high school, I used Agree. Before I got my hair colored, I just used the cheapest brand around, Suave. Now, I use Pantene for colored hair. Shampoo is one thing I don’t spend lots of money on (don’t tell my hairstylist, although she can probably tell – hee hee).


  2. Posted by Mom Aubert on April 2, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    HALO – The commercial would show a super handsome guy with a blonde gal with the most gorgeous page boy hairdo ever. Of course when I used it, it smelled kind of (and looked like) Joy dishwashing liquid and left my hair like a haystack. It had it’s own song too….”You can always tell a HALO girl, you can tell by the shine of her hair.” And about 875 years ago there was a shampoo called Dusharme (spelling?) that came in a jar and was like a thick cream. I think back then I didn’t care if my hair was shiny and silky or not so I don’t remember that part but I do remember it smelled really nice.


  3. Posted by PG on April 21, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    This is so funny — I specifically remember those “Halsa Hair” commercials — gosh was I naive as a teen — I have thick curly chocolate brown hair (that at the time was a mass of frizz I did not know how to take care of in the least back in the 80’s) — and I remember thinking that if I used Halsa I would actually be able to CHANGE my hair color (or at least impart some seriously noticeable highlights — to no avail — it did make it easier to comb (but nothing spectacular). Some years later I tried natural Henna (no metallic compounds — just the raw stuff) and it does deliver the highlights — YAY — too bad I didn’t know that back then — I was so crushed the silly things that cause us suffering in our youth!


  4. PG,
    Your hair sounds a lot like mine! I never knew how to deal with it in the 80s, either, and my mom had stick-straight hair so was equally at a loss as to what to do with my curls! I made the mistake of BLEACHING the heck out of my hair during the summer between 8th and 9th grade; I used Halsa shampoo for blondes to enhance my fake brassy blonde. Pretty, right? Just before 10th grade started, I chopped it all off and started over. How funny you should mention henna—I, too, discovered this amazing product during my last year of high school. I used it for several years and loved how it brought out the (many) red highlights in my hair. It got to be kind of a pain, though (messy, stinky, stains stuff), so I stopped several years ago.

    I have to say that I do like my hair nowadays, though. It still tends to get frizzy, and I’m finding grays all the time (I’m 34!), but there are lots of great products for keeping it tamed and looking decent. I’m wearing it really long now—it’s about six inches longer than in the photo on the front page of my blog.

    “The silly things that cause us suffering in our youth…..” You got that right, PG! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hope you’re having a great hair day! 😉


  5. Posted by Kalle Hassler on April 25, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    We don´t have that shampoo Hälsa in Scandinavia. Actually it most have been an american product; since I remember an ad from those days saying “Hälsa-the name means beauty” . It doesn´t mean that in any language, but “health” …;)


  6. Kalle,
    How interesting! If my memory serves right, Halsa was advertised as being a product from somewhere in Europe. Maybe it wasn’t Scandinavia—the Swiss Alps, maybe? Ha.

    As for “the name means beauty.” Maybe they meant it the same way an advertiser for a car company might say, “[Name of Car Company]: The Name Means Quality,” even if the name *actually* means nothing of the sort!

    Thanks for stopping by!


  7. Posted by Dr. K on May 10, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Hello….I have been in the skin care business for 37 years and make personal formulations for my clients and patients.

    Just last week, May 08, I found Halsa hair color at the 99 Cent Store in Southern California. I don’t think it was ever a product of Scandanavia. Seems it was from S C Johnson & Johnson, then sold to Dep with Agree products. There was a legal issue that J&J misrepresented the value of the company when they sold it to Dep.

    The fact that I found it at the 99 Cent Store makes me wonder if Dep has folded the line.

    Now the question is whether to use it or not….hmmmmm. It’s not old, but may have inferior ingredients. It says it’s made in Korea and I am hesitant to trust that the ingredients are safe, as we are finding that some Asian companies are not conscientious about the safety of chemicals.

    I am still more confident in Euorpean products where the standards for safety are far better than our own. There are no FDA requirements for cosmetic products in the USA. This is shocking to many people.

    As I try to keep up with knowing the skin care market, I am appalled every day at what is allowed to sell in this country that is dangerous to the user’s health. There are ingredients in many cosmetics that actually affect your hormone levels causing everything from depression, anxiety to obesity.

    Beware of advertising…..the terms “Natural” and “Pure” mean nothing in the USA market. There is a website that lists the safety of ingredients. It is

    Good shopping to you! I am considering starting my own blog…or whatever to help people out with making good choices.

    Dr. K, M.H., N.D.


  8. Hi, Dr. K;
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your comments. I am preparing to write a post about the subject of “memory”—as in, I have none! For some reason, I have always had this idea that Halsa shampoos/conditioners were touted as being from Scandinavia. I can’t figure how I would have confused Halsa with Neutrogena (which is supposedly from Norway). But apparently, I am the only person who seems to have this weird memory as to that product’s origins!

    As for finding it in the 99-cent store…..generally, what I see in the dollar stores are products that have been discontinued from the regular shops. This can be great—I’ve found products I loved but could no longer buy at the usual places. But you’re right, the stuff you bought could be old.

    It is getting worse and worse these days, the news about products made in the Orient. I recently received an e-mail warning me about the roasted chickens sold at a certain chain store—word is, they are produced in a horrendous manner in China, of all places. Weird.

    My husband is extremely skeptical of anything that claims to be “natural.” As he likes to say, “Poison ivy is natural, too!” He is very discerning and points out to me some of the ridiculous “statistics” and such that we hear in advertising. Because of him, I am (hopefully) less gullible than I would be otherwise!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the beauty industry. I have had a lot of “hits” on this post on my blog (not everyone leaves comments). I think people ARE looking for good info on beauty products. If you started a blog or website, you’d likely have a lot of traffic on it. Besides, it’s FUN!

    All the best to you!


  9. We practically wrote the same blog entry at the same time. I was looking for my blog entry to send to a friend tonight, and WordPress had stuck yours at the bottom as a possible link, so here I am. And I agree with you WHOLE HEARTEDLY. We even have the same kind of hair–but mine used to be blond and is now brown leaning towards gray. Anyway–here’s the link to my own shampoo conundrum blog. Enjoyed visiting you. 🙂


  10. Posted by jmp54 on October 22, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I also found Halsa Hair Color in the .99 store. I bought LIGHT BROWN which shows as a dirty blonde shade. My hair is very light brown with a lot of gray. I used the color last evening and now I cannot go out of the house. The instructions stated to leave in hair 25 min. I only left it on 18 minutes.
    My hair is a shade lighter than COAL BLACK.
    It is so dark it looks fake. I rechecked the color tube to make sure someone did not switch colors. It said light brown. I have been shampooing my hair every hour to wash it out and it won’t budge.


  11. Posted by Pleasantly Surprised on October 30, 2008 at 7:59 am

    I thought I’d try it out, I figure what have I got to lose, it’s only 99cents, if it doesn’t come out right, then I’ll just have to buy a more expensive brand to fix it. My hair was a reddish brown & I bought black, after I applied the mixture I looked up the product on the internet & found this blog. When I read the entry from the person who said their hair turned COAL BLACK. I only had it on for approximately 10 minutes, but I panicked & immediately turned on the shower to shampoo it out. I was prepared for the worst & then after I towel dried my hair, I looked up & I had to blink twice, my hair was a SHINY BLACK & it covered all the gray hairs, too. I thought maybe it was just because it was wet, so I rubbed Sunsilk Straighten-Up(which I also bought at the 99cent store) & started drying my hair, it felt soft & healthy, I was shocked. I figured I must’ve just got lucky so I looked at the package for the LOT# 18070816 & exp. date: 0711 & wrote it down, so when I go back to the 99cent store I can buy a box for the next time I need to dye my hair. I was pleasantly surprised & happy with the product & the results, I plan on using it again:)


  12. Posted by Pleasantly Surprised on October 30, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Oh, I forgot to mention the product I used was Halsa Hair Color Ammonia Free in Black


  13. Posted by Mardiss on December 17, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Have you ever tried Sheer Blonde by John Frieda? It smells suspiciously like Halsa…. I just checked online and John Frieda shampoo line was purchased by DEP in the early 90’s and DEP had purchased Halsa from SCJohnson years earlier. The John Frieda line is much like Halsa in the way that they have different shampoos that “bring out the natural highlights (Halsa)” Maybe you can give it a try!

    Sheer Blonde John Frieda


  14. i purchased two boxes yesterday at the 99 cent store and did not think much—but after reading everyones reply i am kinda scared—maby i will try a small patch-like the 8.99 stuff at walmart says to do which i never pay attention to anyway–i bought this because i always feel good thinking i got buy cheap-always looking for a bargain whether i need it or not


  15. Posted by Halsa Fan on October 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I remember calling DEP when I couldn’t find Halsa anymore. I spoke to a very snippy person who said it was discontinued because “people like you” were not buying enough of it. I told her that maybe “your” company did not know how to market it properly and she hung up. I will look for the John Frieda line. I was using Jason Enhanced for a few years but that too has been discontinued. That was always like tar anyways.


    • Halsa Fan,
      That is too funny that they accused YOU of taking Halsa off the shelves by not buying enough of it! Hello?! She must have been having a seriously bad day! I always liked the Halsa shampoo commercials, though apparently my perception of them was not exactly accurate. 🙂 They always made it seem like your hair would have lovely golden/marigold highlights if you used it. I hadn’t even heard of Halsa hair coloring until after I’d written this post. At the moment, my shampoo buying habits seem to alternate between Dove Intense Therapy and Pantene for Curly Hair, with the occasional bottle of something else thrown in for fun!


  16. Revlon Flex is still available in the UK – it usually turns up in discount stores, but there seems to be a consistent supply!


  17. Posted by Gretchen on November 22, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Omg, this takes me back talking about all these shampoos. I hate to admitted, I’ve used them all. But one that I can’t find now are the Dep Shampoos and Conditioners. I wonder what happened to them? But I used to love washing my hair with that!!!


  18. Posted by alan horne on December 15, 2009 at 5:25 am

    does anyone remember Dreen shampo, who made it and what became of it


  19. Posted by Wynne Lewis on June 10, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I remember quite a few of these: Halsa, Flex, Faberge Organics and — less well– White Rain and Salon Selectives. I think I tried every variety of Halsa except for the kind for gray hair. I do miss Halsa and Faberge Organics with wheat germ and honey; they smelled so good! Currently I alternate between Pantene 2-in-1 for volume, and Neutrogena.


    • Wynne – I love your name! Thanks for your comment. You are courageous to post a comment on such an old post. It is fun to think about old shampoo brands. Lately, I’ve been thinking of old beloved perfumes, too. 🙂 I don’t even remember if I mentioned it in my original post, but my uncle was a Faberge Organics salesman, and I had a big ice cream bucket full of little bottles of Fabrege Organics shampoos and conditioners. I got so tired of that stuff! That was oh-so-long-ago, when I was about 9 and 10. I don’t blog much any more, but thank you very much for visiting and adding to our discussion. God bless!


  20. Posted by Renee on November 21, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Loved this post! I have to say that I loved Agree shampoo and conditioner for dry hair and there was another one that was not mentioned Revlon’s Outrageous shampoo and conditioner. Boy I would love to get both of these lines somewhere but not spend a pretty penny. Do they even make these two brands or sell them anywhere do you know? If so please could you email me? Thanks! Got a chuckle about the Halsa one.


    • Thanks, Renee! I don’t remember Revlon “Outrageous” shampoo. Perhaps it was a short-lived one. But I saw another oldie (and maybe a goodie?) at Wal-mart the other day: Jhirmack! Who knew they still made that brand? I remember the old magazine ads, with Victoria Principal and her voluminous auburn hair!


  21. Remember the Prell commercial??

    They touted it’s THICKNESS as really something…..
    they’d drop a pearl into it and it didn’t sink??

    I’m looking into buying the cheap Halsa dye, but that Dr’s. comment:

    As I try to keep up with knowing the skin care market, I am appalled every day at what is allowed to sell in this country that is dangerous to the user’s health. There are ingredients in many cosmetics that actually affect your hormone levels causing everything from depression, anxiety to obesity.

    Oh well….. 😦


  22. Posted by Vicky on June 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I’m afraid my hair will fall out or something by using the Halsa from 99c store…


    • Vicky,
      I would be afraid of the same thing! Not for the shampoo, but the dye. Have you ever tried henna? That’s what I’ve been using (well, I use the word “using” losely, as I haven’t actually colored my hair in months). The Light Mountain brand is excellent; they have an array of shades to choose from (they combine actual henna with indigo to create various versions of red/brown/black). Every time I use it on my hair, it turns out spendidly. It’s a pain to apply (and smells like wet hay), but the results are terrific—great conditioning PLUS beautiful, natural-looking color. As I’m no longer a spring chicken, I do have quite a few grays now, but I find leaving the henna on for a long time ends up turning those a nice strawberry-blonde color. Looks like pretty highlights. Maybe you could give that a go. It’s not too expensive, either; I buy mine from

      Thanks for dropping by my blog. I’ve had so many unexpected visitors and comments lately, I’m thinking about getting back to actually posting again!

      Best wishes,


  23. Posted by Robin on November 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I loved a shampoo called “Bright Side” way back when. I thought it was great! It was advertised to leave your hair somewhat highlighted, and it really did seem to! When the 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioners came out, I used one called “Outrageous” by Revlon. I loved it! Then it was recalled for some kind of health reason. I still miss it!


  24. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
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    • Hi Karen,

      I read your comment and thought, “Is she kidding?” It’s been so, so long since I did anything on this blog! Many times I’ve thought about deleting it, but then I think to myself that maybe someday I’ll feel like taking it up again after all and writing about one of the many hundreds of subjects swirling around in my head. (My lack of focus is why I stopped blogging in the first place, unfortunately.) In any case, it always amazes me when someone leaves a comment. Funny how this particular, old post about shampoo still gets traffic!

      You are welcome to quote from my posts and link back to my blog. Thank you very much for asking permission. I appreciate your consideration.

      Can you tell me your blog address so I can visit you sometime? Thanks!



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  26. Does anybody remember a shampoo from the 90s that was clear with lil pink beads and the conditioner was white with pink beads????


  27. Posted by Meg on June 1, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    my favorite shampoo ever was Lemon UP. you can still get at Vermont Country Store but it is pricey. Does anyone remember a pink paste shampoo in a squaty jar? It is what my mom always used on us as kids but can’t remember the name of it.


    • I’d recently bought a shampoo that has been around FOREVER called ‘White Rain.’ I can’t believe that it’s still around. The first round of shampooing was like using nothing at all, and then the second ‘repeat’ worked well…
      It’s a weird shampoo…


      • I used to use White Rain all the time in 8th grade (oh-so-long-ago!). It had such a distinctive scent to it. I wonder if it still smells the same. I also used the hair spray (and I think the mousse, too), back when I had “bangs.” I totally associate the smell of White Rain with the way I felt around a certain boy I had a HUGE crush on back then. Funny how our sense of smell works so well to keep memories for us – if that makes sense!

      • You know what Kimberly?

        I don’t remember it having ANY scent! I still have most of it left….I’ll see next time I shampoo! Truly…I think it is like ‘rain’ or WATER, with NO scent!!

        Sorry ’bout the caps….I’d italicize if I could, instead!!
        I wasn’t YELLING!! hehe…

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