For six days, I gently nagged my son to "please wash your hair, and USE shampoo." On the seventh day, my husband overheard and announced to my family that "shampooing daily is a media-driven habit and scientifically unnecessary" - thus destroying any chance I might have had to get my son into the shower to turn his now straw-like mangy locks into something resembling hair.
Damn you, NPR. My husband had just heard Morning Edition's recent report that "when it comes to shampoo, less is more," crediting the "current trend of frequent shampooing" to a 1908 New York Times column "advising women that it was OK to wash their hair every two weeks."
The report goes on to also blame/credit Proctor & Gamble and all its competitors with driving women to shampoo more often so their hair would look like Christie Brinkley's and Farah Fawcett's. ""All you have to do is watch her running in slow motion on a beach with her hair flopping gracefully in the wind," Steve Meltzer, a former ad executive, tells NPR - and you'd be shampooing with that brand by nightfall.
My mom, who had long, thick, beautiful hair (that I was not genetically blessed with) - shampooed two, maybe three times a week. My mother-in-law, also a post-WWII woman, is on the same shampooing schedule. They unknowingly were following the advice of scientists and dermatologists, who say that washing hair frequently strips it of the natural oils it needs and actually damages it.
Whether recession-driven or ecologically-driven (less water, less plastic, less stuff washed down the drain), there is a movement afoot to shampoo less. As you can tell by this lengthy discussion on The Consumerist blog, there are people who are firmly in the "there's a reason they call them dirty, filthy hippies" camp, and those who are more open-minded and have seen a positive difference in their hair health after reducing their shampooing habit.
I'm pretty sure P&G is well aware of this growing trend, and if it's smart it's working on dry shampoos or shampoo bars to counter-act it.
As for my kids - who are swimmers and therefore shower daily - I'm backing off the daily shampoo nagging....at least until they bring home next lice alert from school. And that's a whole other story.