Rinse, Lather, Repeat. With German Shampoo.

| May 13, 2013

Let’s talk about my hair.  Until recently, after a little over 8 months here in Germany, my hair had steadily developed into something I could no longer run my fingers through with ease, even after fourteen conditionings and a three-hour battle with a grooming instrument.  Large, soft curls had transformed into gnarled knots resembling popcorn glued to a cat by a three-year-old.  I had come to accept that this was a byproduct of age.

Then I stumbled upon a side note when someone mentioned a selection of hair products in her blog entry about a supermarket.  She advised that she’d heard that Americans should switch to German hair products because they’re made for German water.  Are you shitting me?  Where was this advice last September?

That evening, Paul and I engaged in this conversation:

Kari: I need to get some German shampoo, ASAP.  Today I read that it’s made for German water, and I should switch.

Paul: We’ve had this conversation before.

Kari: Uh.  No we haven’t.

Paul: Yes we have.

Kari: Paul, we have never talked about me needing German shampoo.

Paul: I told you people at work were paying a ton of money to ship shampoo in from America and I didn’t understand why they were doing it because it wasn’t made for German water.


Paul: How did you not get that out of that?


Paul: What–now you need context?

To recap, Paul, for months, thought I should have switched shampoos, and yet Paul, for months, has watched my hair deteriorate into a nest that is empty only because it has been condemned even by the birds.  Not even my trusty Humectress was making headway.

This weekend, Paul kindly (riddled with guilt?) picked me up some German Pantene so I could try something simple before I go stand in front of an aisle for a week, reading bottles and deciding what’s best for my hair.

I had to wash my hair twice, because German Pantene rejected the first layer of what I’d allowed my hair to become.

The second lather presented the kind of experience that typically comes only when your head is tilted in the chair of the beauty parlor as someone leans over you, massaging that perfect shampoo through your hair while their chest uncomfortably smothers you and yet you find yourself in heaven, your eyes closed, wearing a dopey smile because your hair feels like a Vidal Sassoon commercial and you feel a twinge of guilt that you’re not paying $75/hour for the head massage. My own lather was feeling like a Pantene commercial, and I was starting to feel like I should be paying myself $75/hour.  I did not want it to end.

For the next twelve hours, I could not stop running my fingers through my hair and wearing a dopey smile.  The casual observer might think I was going about my day with the song “You’re So Vain” as my soundtrack and aspirations of a career as a hair-blowing-in-the-fan model, but really I was just a dope with hair that didn’t feel like ass.

Let’s take a look, shall we?  Here are some shots over the past few months; and shots from this morning when my hair was air-dried, without additional product or (as you can see) styling.  You be the judge.







(and for you, Paul) After:


Note to those actually seeking shampoo: pretty much anything in the stores will be for the German market.  Also, try the salons.  Don’t buy from commissaries, the PX, or, presumably, base salons.

I have had success with Pantene.

I have found L’Oreal El-Vital Re-Nutrition to be heavy and greasy.

I’ll report back on Aussie.

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Category: In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments (5)

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  1. Andi says:

    Here’s one for you – German stinging nettle shampoo:

  2. Ariel Eishen says:

    Good to know! Thanks for the tip!! We just moved here in March, so reading things like this is great. I have noticed a deterioration beginning as well!

  3. Kelly S. says:

    I’ve heard that nasty rumor about needing German products to deal with the hard water. The water here IS super hard. We use German dish washing detergent. Haven’t tried the shampoo yet.

  4. Jessica Garrett-Harsch says:

    I think its the “hard” water. Our shampoos are made to work best with soft water. Without it the product doesn’t work right. I used to have this problem growing up as we had well water. Having said that I haven’t actually tried German shampoo as the combo of American shampoo and German hard water seems to give my very straight fine strands a little more “beachy” look. If I have problems though I’m definately switching.