Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Putting the Sham in Shampoo

Studies have shown that people who are told their placebo is more expensive experience greater placebo effects.

Like, let that sink in for a minute. It is literally mind-boggling. I think most people would read that and think, What?! Surely that would never work on me. I am way too smart/sensible/whatever I tell myself to get through the day to fall for a price tag, let alone on a placebo!

I know I definitely had that reaction. And it was an easy thing to tell myself, given that I have never participated in any clinical trials for Parkinson's disease (... for instance). But then one day in the shower I realized: if I actually believed what my shampoo was telling me, I would not in a million years use the leftover suds to wash the ol' pits & bits.

Just think about all the things your shampoo promises you: thicker... fuller... shinier... for the love of Pete, enhanced curls? This thought now consumes my every shower. It's antithetical to every grooming objective I enforce from my eyebrows on down, and still my shower is stocked with mega bottles of salon product so ridiculously expensive that I secretly sniff my kids' hair - under the pretext of "Give mommy a hug!" - to make sure they're not using it. (Don't judge me - it's way out of their pay grade.)

I swear that this shampoo makes my head hair better, while at the same time having no discernible effects on, say, my leg hair.  

The shampoo conundrum haunts me because it's such a blatant example of my own dissonant beliefs, all wrapped up in a tidy mint-green bottle**: I have to look at the bottle every day and be angry at myself for spending so much money on it, yet I still manage to feel good about putting it in my hair, yet somehow completely neutral about allowing the magical suds to trickle down my ass crack, purportedly enhancing volume and curls all the way. The whole situation completely defies logic.

**Actually, it's a pair of bottles: I have the conditioner, too. Heaven help me, I let that trickle down as well.

**Aaaaactually, it's a quartet: I also have two bottles of matching product, but since I don't apply those - actively or passively - to the rest of my body, I seem to experience less internal struggle over their mystical claims.

Oh shit - I just realized something truly terrible. *checks knuckle hair* Okay, nevermind. No worse than usual.

My brain has a little battle with itself over this issue basically every time I have a shower, and each time reaches only a strained detente thanks to one tiny, hopeful nugget: the products smell really good.

Tiny, niggling brain voice: Like... $300 good?

Louder brain voice: STFU, brain. I'm sick of justifying everything to you.


All the brains: Aaaaaahhhhh...

Nose (quietly): Until tomorrow, you crazy bastards.

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