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A Clean Rant PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
carmen

I travel a lot and I try to take advantage of the hotel's amenities where appropriate. As I'm not in the least bit picky about shampoo and conditioner, I will most often use what's provided. And I've been noticing a disturbing trend: soap makers want to cover me with food. Specifically, they want to fill my hair with fruit. Newsflash: I am not Carmen Miranda.

I've seen ginger, green tea, white tea, vanilla, almond, coconut, spearmint, peppermint, raspberry, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. But today, I reached my limit. Today's choice: bamboo.

Pandas favor bamboo and Tiki lounges employ it effectively. I like bamboo as well, and once owned several delightful acres of it in Virginia. That said, bamboo has none of the qualities I want associated with my hair. It is stiff, brittle, and green. It also grows quickly, which may be seen to have some advantage, but honestly I'd prefer barber visits to be spread out as much as possible.

Do you know what I do want in my hair? Chemicals. That's right, I want sodium lauryl sulfate, which has been used for many decades because it is safe and effective at cleaning hair.  I want emulsifiers, preservatives, and yes, a mild fragrance is nice. I do not want bamboo in my hair. I don't care if the ingredients are "natural" or not. "Natural" is a meaningless term, in this regard. Water is just as natural as cyanide (it comes from fruit!), arsenic, uranium, and Ebola for that matter. I WANT WHAT IS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE. And I don't care if it comes from a lab or a forest.

I understand that it's fashionable to have as many fruits and nuts on yourself as possible, but I would really like to keep my food wearing down to the obligatory gravy stain on my tie, thank you. By the way, I found a sure-fire way to avoid gravy stains on ties: don't wear ties.

And one last thing... some of us need glasses and we can't see well in the shower. Do you think you could make the conditioner bottle a different color than the shampoo bottle? At least the cap? Please?

 

 

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Bamboo-zled
written by CryoTank, February 01, 2009
I have this problem every time I have to buy shampoo.
Last time I picked up 'stinging nettle' flavour, chosen more or less at random. The selection is quite bemusing.
I just hope it's not as 'Natural' as the original smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by bosshog, February 01, 2009
What you don't seem to realize is that Natural fruits and vegetables have been used for thousands of years for personal hygiene. The ancients understood far better than we the cleansing and healing properties of Nature. When Man first used pig fat that dropped into a campfire and mingled with ash producing lye soap to clean his hands he went astray and became alienated from his planet and the healing ways of Nature. We must return to Nature's healing ways by using all natural vegetable-based products.
-plus they come in convenient disposable petrochemical plastic bottles.
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written by dannysland, February 01, 2009
There's a line of cleaning products now with all sorts of mysterious, oddball scents -- my current least favorite is a kitchen counter cleaner that smells like rhubarb. So your kitchen can always smell as if you just made rhubarb pie and you didn't clean the counter very well.
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Proofreading note
written by inquisitiveraven, February 01, 2009
"But today, I reached my. Today's choice: bamboo." I think there's a word missing here.

Umm, usually the bottles are transparent; the shampoo is translucent; and the conditioner is opaque. At least that's been my experience. I know it's not always the case though, so have you considered using a Sharpie to mark one of the bottles before stepping into the shower?
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Oh, look! Another mystic-full of fallacies!
written by Radwaste, February 01, 2009
"The ancients understood far better than we the cleansing and healing properties of Nature."

I call, "Poe". This has to be a hoax.

This simply and plainly isn't so. You really need to look around and realize the state of human knowledge. Try Engineering Toolbox and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Note the comprehensive nature of each. Note also that they routinely hold forth on phenomena unsuspected and unremarked by the so-called sages of the past.

Pining for the imaginary past, supposedly a simpler and more wonderful time, is no replacement for accurate observation about the state of human knowledge.

You would return us to the days of slavery and widespread disease. No thanks.
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I think bosshog was being sarcastic
written by fluffy, February 01, 2009
That last line in bosshog's post makes me think it was a joke. At least I hope it was.
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written by Wizard, February 01, 2009
Fruit,vegetable's,herbs,nut's HA! that's nothing... Iam still waiting for freerange shampoo! smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by bosshog, February 01, 2009
Fluffy, you win the Golden Furbearing Trout Award!
I expected that line about "petrochemical disposable bottles" would make the obvious painfully so.

I was wrong.
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that reminds me
written by MadScientist, February 01, 2009
I remember this shampoo ad in Australia a few years ago - it had this woman eating something (can't remember if it was fruit or vegetables) and she says something like "I get my nourishment from my food, not my shampoo". I thought it was a great ad, but it didn't run for long.
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Early 20th-Century Miranda Warning
written by GusGus, February 01, 2009

The Miranda warning before the Supreme Court decision of June 13, 1966:

You have the right to wear fruit on your head. You have the right to dance and sing to Latin American music. Xavier Cugat will be assigned as your counselor. Etc...

.
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written by MJG, February 01, 2009
If my hair has to smell like a buffet, I want a shampoo that smells like bourbon and pepperoni pizza.
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Very funny stuff, Jeff!...
written by SheldonHelms, February 01, 2009
Jeff,

I'm a pretty harsh critic of comedy, and this was one of the funniest articles I've read it a long time! Like you, I'm insulted by ridiculously simplistic messages like these that cater to the naive and un-educated who'll but anything if it makes them feel good or seems like "ancient" knowledge. If people in previous centuries used fruits, veggies, tubers, etc., it's probably because they had no alternative. If science has provided a better way to clean ourselves, we should probably use that. I mean, didn't the "ancients" also put poisonous metals in their wine to mask the bitterness? Not all old knowledge is good, and not everything that makes us feel good is actually good for us. smilies/grin.gif
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written by razmatazspaz, February 01, 2009
:-) :-D ;-D ;-) Giggles and grins - this was an amusing post!
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Food Ingredients Useless in Shampoo
written by StarTrekLivz, February 01, 2009
I'm always astonished that people put yogurt and fruit and deity-knows what all in shampoo.

Hair follicles are dead, they're not going to eat the shampoo, nor can they absorb anything plopped onto them.

It reminds me of when my godson had a problem with teenage acne before a Big Date, but was all excited because of some new treatment. It was sold at extravagant prices by calling an 800 number advertised during late-night TV that had Oxygen in it. "Getting Oxygen into the Skin will heal Acne!" he told me: the advertiser had told him so. I told him, "If people could absorb oxygen through their skin, no one would every drown." He was stunned, thought about that for about 2 days, and realised he would be better off consulting a licensed dermatologist and following his/her regimen than trust to late night infomercials.
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written by kenhamer, February 01, 2009
The next inevitable step will be to claim one food-based shampoo is more "ethical" than another food-based shampoo, because they use only "organic" foods in the preperation. The ethics of using food for vanity purposes will escape them, however.
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written by lsinervo, February 01, 2009
Bamboo shampoo is being promoted as a hair straightening shampoo. Straight hair is "in" right now therefore, if it works, and I don't know if it does, it would be a popular item to have as an amenity. If you are not in the "least bit picky about shampoo and conditioner" why would you care? Did it not clean your hair?

Having made several batches of homemade soap myself, I find experimenting with different ingredients an enjoyable and relaxing exercise. Friends enjoy the results of my labors, even the lemon poppy seed bars. Note has been made not to send any as gifts the JREF.

What does this have to do with skeptcism? Did the label on that shampoo promise something it didn't deliver? If it did, maybe you should ask for your money back..........oh, I forget, it was free.

If you don't care if an ingredient is natural or not, why snicker at coconut oil being an ingredient in your soaps? Coconut oil is a fine source of sodium lauryl sulfate, a small amount give a nice lather and hardness, too much can dry and irratate your skin, regardless of whether it came form a natural source or not.

Some of the articles on this site are excellent, but much of it is just nit picky filler material lately. If I was a donor to this organization, and I have considered it, I'd surely want my money spent on some better research than articles about personal preferences in shampoo.
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Does Bamboo as an ingredient = straight hair?
written by lsinervo, February 01, 2009
Now that would be something I'd be interesting in reading about! Bamboo is straight, did this lead come marketing / ad agency /chemist to decide this would be a selling point for the large number of people who would rather have a shampoo straighten their hair instead of a flat iron? Is there any evidence this works?

That of course would take much longer to compose than the "Clean Rant" posting. It would actually be educational.

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written by bad robot, February 01, 2009
To add to the silliness, I have seen shampoo for "Sad hair", and toilet paper with added vitamins (apparently some vitamins are good for the skin)
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written by BillyJoe, February 02, 2009
Bosshog is funny.
But Isinervo is a joke.

smilies/grin.gif
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Disappointed
written by jimroyal, February 02, 2009
I think this rant is rather silly. This is not an example of woo woo.

"Hair follicles are dead, they're not going to eat the shampoo..."

Hair is dead, but follicles are not. Neither is the skin on your scalp.

During the dry Canadian winter, regular shampoos irritate my scalp and give me terminal dandruff. And guess what works: These fruit and vegetable-laced shampoos work. No dry skin.

I'm disappointed in you guys. Sure, these food-based cosmetic products may be very silly at times, but they are examples of fashion, not woo woo. Thirty seconds of thought would have revealed that.
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written by Lee, February 02, 2009
To those who think this article is frivolous/silly/etc.:

Scepticism and critical thinking are very broad terms, as is woo-woo. This article is aimed primarily at a fairly narrow branch of the woo-woo: the idea that 'natural' is superior to artificial. What those non-thinkers fail to grasp is the idea that we humans are natural organisms - therefore, surely anything we make is as artificial as us; that is, not at all. Man-made is simply a synonym for natural.

Of course, manufacturers have sales to make, and so this organic craze arose as simply another sales ploy to take advantage of people's wallets, and it is the same principle as the psychic assuring the distraught mother that her deceased son is happy on the 'other side'. The company that manufactures 'all natural' soaps (now with more fructose!!!) is using the same principle as Talons claiming to know the future. Or Uri and his useless spoon 'powers'.

That principle is plain old ignorance, and the calculated methods employed to take advantage of it. The JREF opposes this in all possible forms.
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Safe & effective
written by sibtrag, February 02, 2009
Save & Effective are two good attributes to seek, but hardly the complete list of requirements. I want my personal care products (and cleaning products and medicines) to be harmless once they go down the drain, where all such products end up. I believe that the emphasis on "natural" and plant-based products is a response to that concern and the realization that some chemicals used in such products may be effective during use, but cause problems after use.
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Re: Disappointed
written by sibtrag, February 02, 2009
@ jimroyal: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is known to be a skin irritant depending on concentration & individual susceptibility.
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written by jimroyal, February 02, 2009
Thanks for the tip, sibtrag. I will keep an eye out for that ingredient.

Do you have any data that suggests that plant-based cosmetic products biodegrade faster than others?
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written by BillyJoe, February 02, 2009
The only way this is not woo is if there is evidence that fruit shampoo is safe and effective or is as safe and effective but biodegrades better than the alternative.

Are they concerned about this?
Or is it just a sales gimmick based on natural is best?

(I'm just asking a questions here, not making a statement)
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written by sibtrag, February 02, 2009
No, I have no such evidence and that is far from my field of inquiry. Of course there are famous examples of chemicals not found in nature being extremely long-lived, but that is anecdotal.

One can make a hand-waiving evolutionary argument that, for instance, if some significant component of bamboo were not degraded then an organism which happened to develop an ability to degrade it would find itself in a nice niche with no competitors and would prosper.

As for SLS itself, it is very controversial, so my simple web search came up with propaganda from both sides...the chemical industry claiming it is perfectly safe and the anti-chemical folks claiming all sorts of dire consequences of touching it. The MSDS: http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSD...te-9925002 is somewhat in between and portrays a chemical that is somewhat dangerous at "full strength". Also, the HERA project (whose report http://www.heraproject.com/files/3-E-04-HERA AS Env web wd.pdf looks reasonably scientific, but I have not studied it intently) said that it was readily biodegradable.
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written by jimroyal, February 02, 2009
@BillyJoe: On reflection, I doubt the sellers of these fruit shampoos and soaps are overly concerned about how their products biodegrade (with the possible exception of Body Shop). I think their selling point is that cosmetics that are made with actual fruits and vegetables smell better than those made with synthetics. And IMHO, that's as far as it goes. Walk into a Lush shop and you get the point -- it's all about the smell.

While it is true that these vendors are relying a bit on the natural=healthier myth, that point would not help them sell much product if the products themselves didn't smell better. And they do.

@sibtrag: Thanks for the due diligence. As with anything else, it's the dosage that makes the poison, eh?
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 02, 2009
If you want clean, shiny, full-bodied hair and the elimination of dandruff, just two words.... cat urine.

Don't trust my word - try it and see.

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MSDS!
written by Radwaste, February 02, 2009
Hey, MSDS! Material Safety Data Sheet! Required of all shippers of chemicals on the nations's highways and of employers whose employees handle the stuff.

Please note that where I work, we actually have an MSDS for water. Know what it says to do in case of spill? "Rinse with water." We have no idea how or when to stop.
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Superiority of Natural vs. Synthetic as an Argument vs. going off half-cocked
written by lsinervo, February 02, 2009
I do not think an argument about the superiority of natural vs. synthetic products is outside the scope of the stated purpose of the JREF forum but the clean rant was nothing of the sort. The author did not appear to even have spent 5 minutes doing simple internet research to find out what adding bamboo to a hair product was supposed to achieve before starting to channel Mr. Blackwell.

If this was a personal blog I'd probably laugh and move on, but this site claims to have higher ambitions. Sloppy research on this subject taints everything else on this site. Do you want that? If this is the standard of a claim of pseudoscience, if I can show in a double blind study that adding bamboo extract to shampoo increases the straightness of hair fibre do I win a million bucks?

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written by JeffWagg, February 02, 2009
@lsinervo: I think you missed a very important part of this piece, and that is the word "rant." This was not intended to be an expose on the abuse of the word "natural," or to denigrate your hobby. In fact, lemon poppyseed soap sounds like a great idea. Citrus is good for cleaning, and the poppy seeds would add some grit to help remove dirt.

A couple of smaller points. 1) I never said anything about coconut oil. 2) The bottle of shampoo I had said three words. Those were "The Spa" and "Bamboo." No list of ingredients, no claims of effectiveness. If bamboo extract is actually intended to straighten hair, why would they assume *I* wanted straight hair?

Also, never did I say that I thought synthetic was better than natural. I don't care what the source is... what's "best" is what should be used. And we can spend a lot of time arguing the definition of best.

You claim that I did sloppy research, but this is untrue: I did NO research. It was a rant, I made no claims of a non-personal nature, and there was no need for research. The article's intent was humor, and it was at least somewhat successful.

Swift has changed drastically. We no longer publish once a week, and we have broadened our content to include what some would call "fluff" pieces. Some enjoy them, some do not. This little piece was never intended to be any more than the rant it was. However, as you can see we do read the comments, and will consider all suggestions.
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written by BillyJoe, February 02, 2009

written by JeffWagg, February 02, 2009
@lsinervo: I think you missed a very important part of this piece, and that is the word "rant." etc etc

Well, I think I got Isinervo picked about right.

Bosshog is funny.
But Isinervo is a joke.
smilies/cheesy.gif

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written by Michelle, February 03, 2009
I... I use a handmade japanese green tea soap (ordered directly from the guy who makes it) for my body. It looks gross (It's a mucky brown that looks like it's full of disease.) but I swear it's the best soap I ever tried... Probably stupid of me. smilies/cheesy.gif I'm such a girl.

But for my hair... I had to change of shampoo lately, since mine was discontinued or something. I think I stood like 10 minutes in front of the shampoo shelves staring blankly at them. I just didn't know which to pick. For curls, for no curls, for puffy hair, for no puffy hair, for silky hair... HEck, I remember years ago that Head and Shoulders was so simple. Anti-dandruff! ...but now they have a ton of types too.

I... I just don't follow anymore. I picked a random shampoo... It seems to be working.
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written by BillyJoe, February 03, 2009
I use a handmade japanese green tea soap for my body

I have to inform you, Michelle, that I automatically form images in my mind of what I'm reading. smilies/smiley.gif

(Actually, my son told me recently that he does not do this. He just reads the words! Is this unusual?)

BJ
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written by tctheunbeliever, February 03, 2009
Some commenters here seem to fear that less serious pieces are preventing rigorous scientific pieces from appearing here. I doubt that this is the case, but then again, it's not a perfect world.

"It's made with beer, but don't drink it!!"
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 04, 2009
Swift doesn't do 'rigorous scientific pieces' either, that's not its intent.

Humor is always appreciated, in fact, we'd do well to show that humor and skeptics are not mutually exclusive. My late wife was a lifelong faithful Christian, which might have led to serious problems given I am an atheist, but she tolerated my atheism in large part because I framed it with humor.
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1,2,3
written by lsinervo, February 04, 2009
Jeff, I fully understood your piece was a rant.

Since you`re a programmer, think of this situation.

Remember "Man of the Year" with Robin Williams and the computer glitch that allowed the rest of the plot to happen? Makes the movie not so funny, but one could still enjoy it.

Now, take that movie and put in under a banner that says education.

Now, remember the site that has the banner regularly comments on how other people are dishonest, delusional, stupid, full of woo-woo, don't know anything about science, claim personal antidotes as evidence because they are so uneducated etc etc. These comments are made even about TV shows on psychic issues, ones that are clearly meant to entertain and not be documentaries.

Are you getting that the COMBO of circumstances of your rant is what elicited the response from me?

Motto is, if you throw stones, don't buy a glass house.
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written by BillyJoe, February 04, 2009
Humor is always appreciated

Then how come I've accumulated so many negative votes? smilies/cheesy.gif

...in fact, we'd do well to show that humor and skeptics are not mutually exclusive.

The Australian sceptic magazine is full of humour from cover to cover. It is even called "The Skeptic" rather than "The Sceptic". How's that for humour (or should I have said "humor"?)

I do fear for our counterparts in the US though.
It's really tough to get them to crack a smile. smilies/sad.gif

BJ
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The Irony of it all
written by lsinervo, February 04, 2009
The supreme irony of this whole rant that seems to be lost is this - "ginger, green tea, white tea, vanilla, almond, coconut, spearmint, peppermint, raspberry, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme" these are all CHEMICALS many of which provide sodium lauryl sulfate, emulsions, preservatives and mild fragrance to soap, exactly what the author asked for.

That's why they are used in the first place.
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Natural Vs Synthetic Vs Organic
written by BlackCatThursday, February 05, 2009
I wrote a longer post - which may or may not appear. This is the reader's digest version.

Natural is a meaningless marketing term used in the cosmetics industry. An industry that is about as well regulated as the Herbal Supplements Industry. Essential Oils are very expensive - most companies use synthetic versions of the scents or essences in their products and then slap "Natural" or "Aromatherapy" or "Soothing Natural" or you get the picture.

Organic requires certification by the USDA. At a minimum the product must contain 95% organic ingredients. The 95% does not include water and salt. Your mileage on Organic vs Synthetic may vary.

A quick though more thorough search of the interwebs on Bamboo used in hair care products resulted in the following:
Bamboo will make your hair straighter
Bamboo will make your hair curlier and more defined
Bamboo when combined with "nanosilver" and charcoal will cure dandruff

And each one of those claims has the same amount of research behind it as Jeff's rant. Zero.
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