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GOOD HAIR DAYS

June 27, 2017

By Jim Rhodes

There ought to be a special place in the Commercial Copywriters Hall of Fame for the anonymous scribblers who write the labels for hotel shampoo containers. I happen to be a student of the art form, having spent many hours in reviewing their workmanship in showers around the world. It’s not easy, since the text is usually printed in 1.5 point Arial Light type. So I often have to wait until I get home to review their handiwork using a strong magnifying glass I keep in a desk drawer.

Still, it’s worth the effort.

Pity the poor copy slave whose job it is – day after painful day – to craft these masterpieces of creativity and concision – knowing full well that their purple prose will likely go unread by human eyes when printed on a container smaller than an aircraft liquor shot bottle.

I’ll share a few recent samples from my collection:

  • “This shampoo clarifies and cleanses for a beautiful high shine finish.” (Adequate, but pedestrian.)
  • “Luscious Quenching Conditioning Shampoo.” (This one, I suspect, came from a writer who did not have English as a first language.)
  • “This vitamin-infused shampoo with Biotin B-7 Complex™ leaves hair clean, nourished, healthy looking and head turning.” (Much better, with a deft touch at the end.)
  • “Aromatic Wood Aromatherapy Shampoo provides the benefit of moisturizing with rice bran oil, orange and tangerine extracts.” (Admittedly, my olfactory organs may be insufficiently sensitized, but this stuff smelled to me pretty much the same as the others.)
  • “Go native with the lush lather and moisturizing goodness of Hawaiian Awapuhi. Brightens all hair types by removing dulling buildup.” (One of my favorites – note how the writer cleverly uses the imperative case to challenge the reader with a call to action.)

I thought I had seen everything until I found myself in a shower in Amsterdam a few months ago.

On the front of the shampoo container was boldly printed “Dead Clean Fresh Shampoo for Fresh Thinkers – Rosemary Oil,” along with a logo containing the abbreviation NaCl.

Likewise, the body soap container said “Dead Clean Relaxing Shower & Bath Wash for a Relaxed Soul – Salvia Oil,” with the same NaCl logo.

I remembered from my high school chemistry class that NaCl stands for sodium chloride, better known as table salt. Perplexed, I turned around the canisters to read what was printed on the reverse side. Happily, they were large enough that I could read the text unaided.

This is what I found:

The Dead Sea Essence

Deadclean.com

The unique water of the Dead Sea contains 8.6 times more salt than other seas, as well as 21 minerals. We captured the salt of the Dead Sea with love and added these in our products. The elements in the Dead Sea will benefit the human body.

The label stated the product was made in PRC for a Dutch luxury hotel cosmetics company.

My mind was flooded with images of Chinese scientists in white lab coats lovingly filling jars with salt water on a bleached arid beach beside the Dead Sea.