Of all the things I’ve stopped less than halfway through for no good reason, like an intended habit of daily foam-rolling, 70 percent of podcasts I start, the “Just Desserts” edition of Chef’s Table, learning how to longboard and folding my laundry, I would say that the benched products in my bathroom deserve first priority when it comes to reconsideration. After all, at one point in time, I selected each of these items for a reason, well-knowing that they would make some sort of intimate and direct contact with my body. If only for a minute, in an aisle of CVS somewhere, we had a moment.
I recently began the process of going through these old products to better organize what I do and don’t actually use, to remind myself what I don’t need to buy for a while if ever again, and to shower — just in general. For the sake of staying organized, I wrote reviews of the old shampoos, conditioners and more that I found. I’m keeping them for my own reference, but by all means, I hope they offer you just as much help.
Half a Bottle of Head & Shoulders Classic Dandruff shampoo, Possibly From the Early 2000s
I probably buy one bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo, plus its conditioning partner, once a year. (Sometimes I accidentally buy a two-in-one version instead of the solo shampoo, or solo conditioner — which, on top of the dandruff, is a real day-ruiner.) But I never finish it. What happens is that I enter a phase where my scalp has finally relaxed for once, and I decide I want to have the kind of shower aesthetic — or any shower aesthetic, really — that one might find on influential Instagram accounts. Just in case I find myself on a surprise episode of Room Raiders or something. (In retrospect, that show really affected me. Sometimes I find myself dusting and washing sheets purely because I fear that someone will scan my room with a blue light on cable television while I sit in a van and watch in horror.)
Anyway, I think I borrowed this particular bottle of Head & Shoulders from my dad’s house. He lives nearby in New Jersey, so I sometimes use his hallway linen closet as my old products storage. This comes in handy when I’m home and need to shower and don’t want to use my dad’s bottle of Prell shampoo. It also acts as a free Walgreens, if you’re into unfinished products from previous decades like I am and don’t worry about how the time lapse since opening may affect chemicals that will touch your scalp.
But Head & Shoulders Classic lasts. It always smells the same, both in application and later in the day (“Mmm, your hair smells so good, what is that?” “Oh just my dandruff shampoo, thanks!”). It’s like a jar of mustard in that way. Does it help with flakes? Sort of! It certainly soothes. And I do believe it is underrated in its shine-creating abilities, not to mention that its conditioner — the consistency of a thick mayonnaise — leaves hair soft but not greasy.
I recommend. This one is now back in the rotation.
A Venus Razor — But Not the One I Normally Use
I won’t do this, because I’m sure Etsy doesn’t consider this a “craft,” but I own so many Venus razors that I am frequently inclined to open my own indie vintage Venus shop. Why so many? Two reasons, really: One, I am a reckless consumer!! Two, I panic-pack often, frequently forget my razor as a result, buy a new one upon my destination, and then return home with another to add to my growing collection.
The thing is that like hair ties, they’re never around when you need them. No clue where I keep putting them, until I am cleaning out old purses and find one.
As for the Venus razor I just found, it’s perfectly fine, though I’m not a fan of the pink handle. Venus is one of those brands that I adopted way back when I watched a lot of MTV, so probably around the same time Room Raiders invaded my brain, too. I’m loyal to it, even if I am fairly indifferent. I do resent that the blades are so expensive, but my dad texts me whenever there’s a Venus blade sale at CVS, so bulk-buying is key.
I recommend if you can find a coupon.
A Pack of Men’s Gillette Triple Blade Razor Heads, No Handle
Assuming these came from Free Walgreens. Given that they’re of zero use to me without the handle — they don’t click into any other razor handles, which from a competitive standpoint, makes sense (although Gillette, it would be nice if all your blades were interchangeable), and you definitely can’t just hold the blade with your fingers to shave (I have tried, it is very dangerous and inefficient), they are of no use to me. I don’t recommend, is what I’m saying, unless you have the coordinating handle and no blades. Speaking of:
One Harry’s Razor Handle, No Blade
My promotional subscription ran out and I used up all the blades. Useless now, although I will say that I was a fan at the time and would use again. I kept a Harry’s handle in my shower for a while, I think because I was hopeful I’d find a Harry’s blade I’d stashed away (and also because I thought it was cool for a razor), but the day never came. Time to get rid of this one.
I recommend; do you want mine or is that weird?
TRESemme Luxurious Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner (Travel Sized)
Perfectly adequate shampoo and conditioner for my hair type (thick and always tangled) to use while away from my home-base for a week, but no longer. It’s comprised of exactly the kinds of ingredients hairdressers are always telling me not to use, but it smells really nice and keeps my hair from being too out of sorts, even when showering in different kinds of water. It’s sort of like eating only chicken fingers at airport restaurants because you’re scared to get a stomachache from the questionable salads.
This smells like the freshly-shaved face of a man who isn’t a loved one: very man-face, but without the attached emotions. I much prefer the Lemon-Lime scent, which is probably one of my most consistently-purchased products of all time. This version was bought either on sale or on a whim that I clearly regretted. Seems a little dramatic, former self, to buy a whole new can of shaving cream when you already have a perfectly good and mostly-full can so that your shins can smell like 7Up rather than what you imagine your male ophthalmologist’s face smells like, but what’s done is done.
This shaving cream works just the same as the Lemon-Lime where texture is concerned (excellently, it’s velvety, fluffy, so satisfying and makes shaving less irritating) but my issue with the smell remains.
I don’t recommend, but I will use this until it’s finished this time.
This is pretty good. It makes your hair smell like it came out of a salon. Nine times out of 10 when I shower with it, someone asks me, “Did you just shower??” I couldn’t say as to whether or not it actually preserves the color of my hair better than its cousin, Dove Intense Repair Shampoo, which I use on a consistent-enough basis that it didn’t make it to this list, but it is one of the most affordable color-protecting shampoos I’ve seen at my local CVS, and my hair feels cleaner after using it than it does with a lot of other color-protecting shampoos, so do with that information what you will because I don’t want to get in trouble with your colorist!
I recommend, but color-protection-plus-hair-type feels like a chemistry equation you don’t want to get wrong, so check with a professional first.
You know how busy New York City streets are always covered in those candied nuts vendors that smell so good your mouth starts watering and you stop every few blocks to consider turning around and buying a bag? Have you ever actually turned around and bought a bag, then realized they don’t taste quite as good as they smell?
For sure the case with this shampoo.
In terms of whether or not it works as a hair cleaner, sure, I guess. I don’t think it’s right with my (greasy the moment it gets WINDY??? HOW?) hair type, but it’s probably ideal for someone who’s constantly trying to water their scalp noodles, as it were.
I recommend it as a shampoo if you’re purely going for smell, which I get and endorse because I like artificial-coconut-scented anything; I used up a vintage bottle of Coppertone SPF4 as a perfume one summer because I loved the fake coconut smell so much. If anyone happens to have a half-finished bottle of this lying around, speaking of unfinished bathroom products, I’ll take it.
Collage by Madeline Montoya.