Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Inventing a better shampoo

Invent a better mousetrap, it used to be said and they will beat a path to your door. (Whoever they are.) But what about a better shampoo? I'm not sure.

When I worked at British Airways, I had someone called Chris Brown in my team a couple of times. He was (and still is) a great programmer with a laid back attitude. You can tell he was laid back because when we once made a little movie to illustrate the differences between the PC operating systems, with different individuals playing, say, Windows and OS/2 (yes, it was that long ago), Chris played the part of Unix. (And yes, weren't we wacky if geeky folk, for making such a movie? One day I will get it on YouTube, but it's 8mm cine film, so non-trivial.)

At one point Chris had quite long hair and made a strong argument that the companies making new shampoo products were doing so for their own benefit, rather than the benefit of their customers. At the time, some brand or other was proudly announcing you could wash your hair every day with their product, without causing any damage. This, Chris pointed out, entirely missed the point. What would be a real breakthrough would be a shampoo that meant you only had to wash your hair once a month or once a year.

After all, shampooing is not fun. It's not clever. It's something you have to do to avoid moss growing and to keep things looking vaguely acceptable. It's a chore, not a pleasure. You can see why the manufacturers haven't gone down this route. They want to sell more shampoo, not less. But if you make a product that plenty of people want, surely it would be worth it? How about it, shampooistas? Hit the labs, please.

Image from Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Shampoo is a con. I know someone who works for a big company that makes it, and he says it's all the same stuff. Sure enough, when you look at the labels they seem to contain 'aqua' (no prizes there) and 'sodium laureth sulfonate' which the horny-handed local in me translates as 'detergent'. Therefore the ultra-cheap 49p Morrison's Own Brand works just as well as a poncey product costing many times more. I can't imagine how the beauty-products industry gets away with the pseudo-sciencey claptrap on TV adverts...