Must All Drugstore Shampoos Smell Like Fake Apples or Terrible Perfume?

by Bonnie

I buy expensive shampoo and conditioner because it smells so much better than drugstore brands. Do all major brands of hair care products, sold for under $10, smell like fake apples to you?, or is my nose just unrefined?

Salon Selectives was the first apple-y shampoo I sniffed, years ago. Ever since then, one by one, every shampoo on the shelf has begun to give off the same apple fumes.

Of course there is another choice. The intense cheap perfume of Pantene. Say what you will about coating your hair in silicone death wax, but when I use that brand in a pinch, it really does make my hair softer, shinier, what-have-you. But it smells so bad to me. Can a fragrance be described as overheated, depressing, and oily?

Lots of products claim to smell unique. Clairol Herbal Essences is the worst offender. Hawaiian Coconut and Orchid, Wild Violet and Pomegranate, Citrus Blossom and Green Tea, O RLY? All apples — fake, awful, apples.

Is that fragrance the least expensive? Or does every focus group of women prefer faux apple scent to all others? The only drugstore brand I that marches to a different beat is Suave. Their Tropical Coconut smells like Coconut, etc. (Not that coconut is what I’m after, just something besides apple!) I have challenging hair and Suave just doesn’t do the work. Jane recommended L’Oréal’s Everpure. It really does smell different. More like aftershave than it’s purported Rosemary and Mint, and I could have worked with that, but when a friend remarked, “It conditions like aftershave, too,” my crunchy hair agreed.

So what do I like? Aveda products smell like heaven (ask me about the time I hair-modeled for them at the Jacob Javitz Center, in an elf costume!), but they don’t do much for my hair. Pureology smells perfectly herbal and is fantastic in every way except for being pricey enough to make me feel dumb every time I watch it’s suds swirl down the drain. I love Terax Crema, a classic. I couldn’t quite articulate that scent, so I looked to see how reviewers on Makeup Alley describe it. Well, kinda weird, like plastic, like vanilla celery, and like holidays. Less positive opinions include both wet dog, and dog poo.

Sometimes I buy health food store brands. I’ll try anything labeled lemon verbena or lavender. Aubrey Organics makes a deliciously scented conditioner called GHB that I’ve used forever. And I just discovered Capilo Sole Cinnamon Shampoo and Conditioner. Really intense cinnamon smell, which I love.

Do you choose hair products by scent? Apparently all I really want is spicy, lemony, plasticy, wet-doggy hair. Too much to ask? I would love to know what you want your shampoo to smell like. And please, tell me, am I the only one who thinks they all smell the same?

[Brands are not paying for my mentions. I mean, what brand would pay to be compared to chemical celery and dog poo? And that’s the one I like!]