I have only had short hair twice in my life.

The first was as a small child, when my mom got so sick and tired of having to de-tangle our long hair that she took us to a barber (yes, a BARBER) and had us all in pixies by dinnertime.

pixieThe other time in the 6th grade when I followed the national craze and got a Dorothy Hamill cut.

Other than that? Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair. My hair has been past my shoulders most of my life. My sisters also had long hair growing up. I think we were all scarred by those butch cuts we were given with the barber’s shears. Plus, it was the 70s – long hair went with the territory.

All that hair required a ton of hair care products. There were many different varieties used by the Bucek girls, few, if any of which, are still on the market. So come with me…let me take you on a stroll through my hair-care history.

BreckBreck. When we were really little, my mom used to use Breck Creme Rinse in our hair. I’m not sure if the directions called for her preparation of the product, or if she was just trying to stretch out the use of the bottle – there were three of us after all, and that’s a lot of creme rinse. Mom would squirt some creme rinse into a Skippy peanut butter jar. It was glass back then and was kept in our bathroom cabinet for the sole purpose of rinsing our hair. She’d add some water, and mix it all up with a fine toothed comb. It never really mixed thoroughly – you could always see bits of pink creme rinse swirling around in the tornado of newly-mixed conditioner. This would get dumped over our head, worked in, and rinsed out.

We did have Breck shampoo from time to time, but I never liked it. The smell was harsh with cleaning agents to match. It always left my hair really dry.

Picture 2Prell. Everyone past a certain age category remembers Prell. The emerald green shampoo in a tube…I can still remember the commercial where the model would only have to dab a dot the size of a dime into their hand, because Prell was concentrated! It was a novelty to me because all the other shampoos came in a bottle, but Prell was in a tube like toothpaste, and it was super-thick – more like a jelly than a shampoo. But you had to be careful with Prell. That green color? It could stick with you. I remember a girl in my grade named Cathy. She had bleached blonde hair that had a tinge of green in it for weeks after she used Prell immediately following her most recent dye job.

7032424323_d2036028e3_oHerbal Essence. This was the shampoo that tried to appeal to the nature lover. Unlike the brand on the shelves today that has umpteen varieties for every hair type, I can only recall one kind of Herbal Essence shampoo. The commercials, like the above print ads, touted a shampoo that was as natural as bathing in a clear, mountain pool. It did smell good, though. I remember buying a bottle when I was living in Vienna because it was the only name I recognized at the store. That smell stuck with me. Every now and then the air will smell just like Herbal Essence and I am immediately transported back to Vienna and Czechoslovakia, the two places I used it.

839792813_1ba4ae613e_zFaberge Organics. Yes, even in the 70s there was an organics movement. This shampoo was supposedly filled with all natural, organic ingredients. Right up my dad’s alley. My dad? He used to sneak wheat germ into everything we ate from Cream of Wheat to pancakes. So, it’s no wonder this shampoo found it’s way into our bathroom. I think it stayed on the shelf for a very long time, only used out of sheer desperation when there was nothing else left.

188531_600Wella Balsam. This was yet another shampoo that made an appearance in my bathroom. I think the main reason why we had it was it was relatively inexpensive. I don’t recall it working all that well despite Farrah’s perfectly coiffed locks.

geeyourhairGee, Your Hair Smells Terrific. I’m not sure if we actually ever bought this shampoo, but it was all the rage for a while. Maybe it was because of the annoyingly long name…sort of like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” Or maybe it was popular because girls desperately wanted hair that smelled great. The commercials would show a guy running his fingers (and his nose) through a girls hair and then sighing the words, “gee, your hair smells terrific!”

In my neck of the woods if a guy was running his fingers and nose through your hair his next comment was usually “are you on the pill?”

LemonUp3-1Lemon Up. Another fad shampoo that we didn’t buy, probably because the bottle design made it less cost effective than other shampoos. It’s cap was a lemon! How cool was that! Although my hair was never washed in it’s lemony loveliness, I have a distinct memory of this shampoo that I am compelled to share with you.

I was at the Leonia pool hanging out with a group of my fellow 8th graders. This guy Dave was sitting in a pool chair when Lisa (who had a crush on him) drizzled a cap-full of her Lemon Up onto his curly, black hair totally unbeknownst to him. Shortly thereafter, we all went into the pool. Well, you know how teenage boys are in the water…the rough-housing and head-dunking ensued almost immediately. Before long, Dave – whose head had been palmed several times by now – had a full lather in his hair. Bubbles and suds floated in a circle around him on the water’s surface. The lifeguard’s whistle began to blow and he got 30 minutes on the pool deck as punishment.


Flex. Ah, Flex – the shampoo and conditioner we loved the most. It was affordable, and the smell? This was the most pungent smelling shampoo of it’s time. The scent was perfumy rather than floral, and would stay in your hair for hours and hours and hours, especially if you had your hair in a ponytail. Somehow a ponytail holds in the smell of shampoo, and once you pulled out that Goody elastic and let your hair cascade around your shoulders, the patented Flex aroma would fill the air. That’s when I would hear dudes murmur “gee, your hair smells terrific.”

For a while Flex had a promotion where they would hide diamonds in the shampoo bottle. Funny thing, they filled all their losing bottles with little fake plastic diamonds. I found that funny, because the bottle is clear, so you can easily see if your bottle is a winner or not just by holding it up and looking inside prior to buying it. I must have had 35 of those white plastic diamonds. I should’ve made a white trash tennis bracelet out of them.

Picture 6Sun In. This product was a household staple when I was a teenager. Three girls with mousy-brown hair needed all the help they could get, so I sprayed this stuff in my hair before every blow-dry, and anytime I was at the pool or the beach. It worked for me. My hair would turn a golden blonde…yeah, it was dry and somewhat brittle, but I just used a little more Flex conditioner to compensate for it.

Some folks had trouble with Sun In. My friend John used some on his hair one summer and it turned orange. But then again, he had hair that was dark brown – almost black. I’ve read where lots of folks had the orange hair syndrome thanks to a few sprays of Sun in, but not me. I loved the stuff when I was a girl. Hell, I had a bottle just a few years ago.

Slightly off topic, I’d like to know what nimrod designed the above ad. You can’t read half the type. Ever hear of a drop shadow? I hope he/she got fired.

Flash forward to the present time…what do I use now? Lots and lots of Suave products. It’s affordable, and with three heads of long hair to wash and condition, I have to watch every penny. I’ll buy other brands when they are on sale, and caution the girls to use as little as possible to make it last, but they squirt on globs and globs of it anyway…the bottles rarely last more than a week.

What was/is your favorite shampoo?