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Remember These Shampoo Brands of the 1970s?

Fads | October 11, 2018

Farrah Fawcett’s famous hair made her a natural for promoting her own brand of shampoo in the 1970s, Farrah Fawcett Shampoo. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Believe it or not, even shampoo brands can be representational of the era in which they were made and marketed. Taking another look at these shampoos, that were popular in the seventies but have since gone out of business, is not only nostalgic but also shows us what things were important to people in the 1970s. 

Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific

This might be the record holder for the longest name of any seventies shampoo. Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific, created and sold by the Andrew Jergens Company, was a must-have personal hygiene product for those on the dating scene. The shampoo was not well-known for getting hair clean or maintaining follicle health. Instead, the product was made using a powerful floral fragrance that lingered in the hair long after the shower. The print and television ads repeatedly showed how men were attracted to women with overly perfumed hair, and the message sent to female users was that they would have a bevy of strangers flock to them at the bar, hoping for an opportunity to sniff their hair. 

Body on Tap

Bristol-Myers introduced a beer-based shampoo, Body on Tap, in 1978. The product contained one-third beer…Budweiser, to be exact. But even Budweiser was confused by the mash-up of alcohol and hair care. They refused to become involved in the marketing of the beer shampoo. They preferred to discreetly (seriously…they shipped it in unmarked trucks) supply their modified beer (chemically changed by the introduction of formaldehyde so it couldn’t be taxed as alcohol) to the Bristol-Myers factory for the production of Body on Tap. One of the biggest obstacles to marketing this product was getting the word out that the shampoo was not meant to be drank in the shower. The company even hired a fresh-faced Kim Basinger to tell consumers that Body on Tap was “Brewed with 1/3 real beer…but don’t drink it!” 

collage by L.A. Rojas

Farrah Fawcett Shampoo

“Charlie’s Angels” star Farrah Fawcett was the ultimate sex symbol of the 1970s and was known for her long, bouncy curls. It was only natural that Faberge, Inc. would strike a deal with Fawcett to release her own line of Farrah Fawcett Shampoo in 1978. Faberge didn’t just stop at shampoo. They marketed a whole line of Farrah Fawcett hair care products. Although the actress bestowed the virtues of the proteins, herbs, vitamins and minerals in the shampoo, the formula was not scientifically-based and the effectiveness of the shampoo was often the subject of debate. Still, so many women were desperate to have hair as lush, silky and full as Farrah Fawcett’s so they were willing to give the shampoo a try.

Short & Sassy

Sure, Farrah Fawcett made a career out of flaunting her long, beautiful hair, but many women in the 1970s wore their hair cut short. With the introduction of its Short & Sassy Shampoo, Clairol tried to persuade these people that a totally different shampoo – one that was formulated for short hair – was needed to keep their cropped styles looking their best. To hammer this point home, Clairol hired the person with the most iconic short hair of the 1970s to be its spokesperson…Dorothy Hamill. The champion figure skater and Olympian created a short hair sensation with the wedge haircut she sported at the 1976 Olympics and Clairol wanted to use her celebrity to help push its product to other short-haired consumers. 

Breck

Breck Shampoo’s Breck Girl advertising campaign was running strong throughout the 1970s. The premise of the campaign was that healthy, natural hair is beautiful hair. Print and television ads showed models who were supposed to be as natural and wholesome as the girl next door, but in reality, they were some of up-and-coming models and actresses who would eventually define the decade. Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett, two future “Charlie’s Angels”, were Breck Girls, as was Brooke Shields and Erin Grey, who went on to play Wilma Deering in the television series, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”

Lemon up

Remember how girls in the seventies would spray their hair with lemon juice before going out into the sun as a way to ‘naturally’ lighten their hair? "Lemon up" Shampoo was produced in response to this trend. The ads claimed that each bottle contained the juice of one lemon and to explain the natural benefits of lemon juice. Lemon Up claimed that the citric acid in the lemon juice helped to rid the hair of unwanted build-up from other hair care products. Of course, the side effect of lightening one’s hair to a sunny blonde was a big selling point of the shampoo. 

Earth Born

In the 1970s, there was a big back-to-nature movement and many consumers began looking for all-natural, chemical-free products. Gillette came out with a line of hair care products called Earth Born that was targeted toward those seeking natural products. Although it really did nothing to explain how the shampoo was natural, print ads for Earth Born always featured a pH test strip that had been dipped in the shampoo to let consumers know that the product was non-alkaline and had a low pH. 

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.