“What makes a good shampoo? Is it the fragrance? The sensation of a soapy scalp? The excitement the first time you wash your hair without getting soap in your eyes? For me, I think it’s the memories.” For most of my life, I’ve used the same brand of shampoo and I’ve never considered changing it. It isn’t because I didn’t realize there were other brands or I don’t do my own shopping, but because every-time I wash my hair, I remember the fun moments growing up where I’d cause trouble and mom would solve every problem. The reason I use the shampoo that my mother makes for me, is probably the same reason we occasionally buy ‘Old Spice’ despite never actually using it ourselves and the same reason mom insists we listen to old school country music every few months.
When we do these things, the memories we associate with them are so visceral, that they become part of who we are. We don’t stay loyal to a brand, we stay loyal to its benefits (such as associated memories, it’s scent, the texture, etc.). With regards to memories, we remember the days ‘they’ were still here, the nights we felt safe and secure, and the time we still wish we had. So instead of telling you about all my favourite brands and products, I’ll just tell you about a single item that I love and the reason why I love it. It’s often long after that we’ve lost something that we start to miss and appreciate it, so instead I shall start the appreciation early. I love the shampoo and conditioner that my mom makes for me, because every time I use it, I remember all the wonderful moments. (I admit that these moments were probably more wonderful for me than they were for her.)
While I can’t speak for others, I was the kind of kid that loved mischief and mayhem. Admittedly, my mom probably should have supervised me a lot more than she did. Much to my humour and her horror, she had caught me on more than a few occasions cutting my own hair super short at the age of 3. It wasn’t as though she wasn’t watching me at all, I was just much better at hiding than she was at seeking. The instant she looked away, I would vanish as though I as was never there and when she’d finally track me down, my head would be almost bald or cut in eccentric shapes and angles.
Needless to say, for a while after that, scissors were impossible to find in our home. As I got older, my interest in the hair on my head started to wane and in primary school I discovered the fashion trend called “eye brow plucking”. So I took it to the other extreme and completely shaved off my eye-brows…I admit that I probably misunderstood the purpose of the plucking. Now you might be thinking “did you just shave them off completely or take your time?” I took my time. I shaved those babies off once quarter of the eyebrow at a time from the side closest to my ear to my nose, from my left brow to my right. Once I had only one eyebrow left, I figured it was time to stop…but in the case of brows, 2 is better than one and since I couldn’t glue the other one on, I had to shave the other off.
You might be able to guess my mom’s reaction (shock, anger, laughter, tears, laughter, horror, laughter, exasperation and laughter). She said to me “I would punish you, but you’ve already punished yourself enough”, before just walking away. It wasn’t until I went back to school 2 days later that I understood what she meant. Fortunately for me, I wore the no-brows look like a fashion statement, otherwise the teasing might have gotten to me. My mom didn’t even bother to try drawing some on and that was probably for the best as I never did it again.
I’ve had, braids, straight hair, curled-hair, large and small ringlets, even an afro. Regardless of every hairstyle I’ve tried, the one consistent in my life was my mom with her encouragement and her sense of humour and her horrified expression which makes me laugh instead of shrink with fear. After every bad hair choice and great hair day, I would wash my hair and she would style it and turn the chaos into gorgeous. I know that I probably stressed her out more than a little and she was always busy working to provide for me, but she always took time out to help me with my hair.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t actually the reason she needed to develop the shampoo, despite her need to quickly solve my many hair disasters. I still benefitted the most, now whenever we wash our hair, we remember those funny moments. The lovely memories we share and the ones that we will make. Regardless of whether it’s a particular product or brand, there are somethings that we use that fill us with nostalgia; my mom’s shampoo is one for me. And when we come across them again, we want to share them with our loved ones, because we want them to understand the joy it brings.
While we can’t all live forever, sometimes a little bit of retail therapy helps us remember the people we love. The brand of cologne or perfume that someone would always wear, the brand of soap they would always buy and type of food they loved to eat. Memory isn’t exclusively visual, it’s in every sensation. So when I eventually start my own family, I will use the same brand of shampoo that my mom used on me. Eventually I will learn how to make it, so I can make it for myself. But for now, I still prefer her solving all my hair problems since those are some of my favourite memories.