If you had walked through the hallway on the third floor of Houston Hall during the first week of school, the overpowering smell of mouthwash probably would have evoked wild images of the fire sprinklers spewing Listerine, or an indoor water balloon fight consisting of only mouthwash filled balloons. That’s how strong the smell was. I’m here to apologize, because that was my bad.
Now, allow me to explain myself. I am Sophie. I have straight, shoulder-length brown hair that I wash every day and rarely need to brush. I have been spoiled by years of easy maintenance and quick morning routines. Up until this fall, I had yet to experience the true meaning of the phrase, “bad hair day”. Now, what’s a better welcome to college life than a seemingly incurable hair situation?
When I got back from TWO, my pre-orientation trip (during which we backpacked through the White Mountains of New Hampshire for five days), I was, simply put, one of the nastiest humans on the planet. I was covered in an impressive layer of dirt, sweat, and exhaustion, and my hair was no exception-- it was filthy, both from literal dirt and the oils my scalp had been building up for the last five days. The first chance I got, I sprung into the shower and attempted to return myself to a socially acceptable level of cleanliness. I tried my best, but there was some dirt on my ankles that was so caked on, it didn’t come off all the way, and when my hair had dried, I found that it was a bit greasy still-- but that was to be expected, after all, one washing can hardly do away with a week’s worth of wilderness. I decided to shower again later, thinking my hair would certainly be clean after round two.
But it wasn’t.
In fact, after my second shampooing, my hair was a little worse. It stuck flat to my head at the roots, as if I hadn’t just scrubbed at it again with my Pantene Pro-V shampoo. I decided that I simply hadn’t rinsed and repeated enough times, and that the next time I showered, I would really get the job done.
I soon realized that with every shampooing, my hair got greasier. It was the most infuriating thing, rubbing my scalp until it was nearly raw, only to find that it looked like I had gone swimming in a grease pot.
This is when I knew I had to do some serious damage control.
I did what any normal person would do when they had a problem they couldn’t fix, and consulted the internet. The world wide web told me that the best thing to do was STOP washing my hair, which I had heard could help in the long run (when you wash your hair frequently, your scalp compensates for the loss of nutrients by producing more oils, and if you stop washing your hair, it will eventually get to a level of normalcy where shampooing every few days doesn’t leave your locks gross in between washes). However, I needed a more timely solution-- I couldn’t exactly wait until Thanksgiving break to have normal hair again. I found crazy home remedies ranging from baby powder, to scalding hot water, to a strange combination of different vinegars (no thanks), and eventually settled on an unlikely course of action: Listerine.
Not any kind of Listerine, though. The terrible brown Listerine, the “Original” Listerine, the “if it burns, it works!” Listerine.
Anyway, I enlisted my roommate and dear friend, Katrina (pictured above), to aid me in pouring mouthwash all over my head. The process went something like this:
Sophie: Okay, so... here we go?
Katrina: So just lean over the sink, and… yeah okay alright it’s happening WOO
Sophie: Yeah so like get it all up in the OH WOW IT’S COLD WOW
Katrina: Is it okay? Did I put enough on?
Sophie: I think that area’s good, but I’m just gonna turn this way and OH MY EYES MY EYES
Eventually, my head was covered in the burning mouthwash, which just smells like pain and sadness, by the way, and my eyes were on fire from the fumes. I wrapped my head in a towel to try to keep the drops from falling into my face.
An hour or so later, my I was delighted at the results-- my hair almost looked like I was a normal person who had just forgotten to shower for a few days! But the people walking through our hall were not so impressed.
“Who spilled the mouthwash?”
“Wait, do you smell Listerine?”
“Oh God, my eyes are burning! Walk faster!”
So yeah, that would be me. Sorry ‘bout it.
After a few days of mouthwash treatment, I started washing my hair with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil Shampoo, which has completely reversed the strange oil incident.
The cause of the sudden change in my plain brown locks remains unknown-- stress? Hormones? Over-shampooing? Dewick food? CARM FOOD? --but I got to sit with mouthwash on my head (now how many of you can say that?) for like, half an hour. And I lived to tell the tale. If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, 10/10 would recommend the mouthwash treatment. Stay clean!