A year or two ago, I recall seeing a spike in discussions about shampoo addiction around the blogosphere. Testimonials from people, mostly women, who broke the cycle made the rest of us wonder if we could do it, too: power through the few weeks of horrible, greasy hair to come out the other side with perfectly balanced locks. I’ve noticed there’s one beauty product addiction that doesn’t get as much attention: body lotion. And I’m pretty sure I’m an addict.
I suppose it all started due to boredom, as so many addictions do, when I was a mall-haunting suburban middle-schooler. One of my favorite stores, second only to Claire’s Boutique, was Bath and Body Works. It started off so innocently: “I want to smell like Sun-Ripened Raspberry!” So every morning, I’d slather on the corresponding lotion to complement the delightful scent of my body wash. But soon the little bottle on the bathroom counter wasn’t enough; I bought a small travel-sized tube to keep in my backpack. You know, for touchups.
The rest is pretty much history. While I graduated from the cartoonishly sweet smells of the Bath and Body works repertoire, I can say with some confidence that in the nearly two decades since I first started the lotion-after-shower ritual, I haven’t been able to live without it. I believe it works in the reverse of shampoo addiction, in which constant washing tricks your scalp into thinking it needs to release more oil. With lotion addiction, your skin is always being moisturized, so your skin stops producing oil because it thinks you have enough. Hand lotion is even more prevalent, because most people wash their hands with antibacterial soap about a million times a day.
I’m sure many of my comrades out there are nodding knowingly. Chapstick addicts, I’m looking at you too. Everyone knows Chapstick is just lotion for your lips. We’re all part of this crazy cycle, and we don’t have the will or the desire to stop it. Shower every day, strip the oils. Put in hair products and apply lotion to replace the oils you’ve just stripped. Preferably all these things smell like fruit or flowers or something else that humans don’t actually smell like.
While I am having a little fun with this topic, it does burn me up to think about it, just as it did with shampoo addiction. Beauty products of all kinds are inherently deceitful; if any of them really worked, you wouldn’t need to keep buying them. As with quite literally everything in our society, it only exists if someone is making a lot of money off of it. By convincing us that we need to look (or smell) a certain way, the companies that make everything from makeup to shampoo to lotion are ensuring their own survival.
Isn’t it strange that only since the inception of blogs have vast numbers of women begun to consider that the most emphatically shared beauty tips from real people (not beauty editors in bed with cosmetic companies) involve using and consuming less? Wash your hair less. Chill out with the harsh chemicals for wrinkles or acne. It’s almost as if, once we were allowed to talk amongst ourselves about what really works, the truth started coming out. Just compare the beauty tips from people who are trying to make money off of you, and those who aren’t.
But, really, how worked up about this can I get if I’m still taking part in it? I skip a few shampoos a week, and once in a while I re-examine my cabinet in the bathroom and try to evaluate the products I’m using. Overall, though, I’m still a willing participant in the lather-rinse-repeat-lotion cycle. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my hands are feeling a little dry.