“The cypress scent of Halo shampoo”

vintage Halo shampoo ad

Apparently “you can always tell a Halo girl.” Who knew?

Not long ago, just for something a little different to do (if you’ve read much of this blog, and my frequent laments about having too many books, you’ll know I’m being facetious here), I bought a book. It’s a relatively new biographical work called Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953. (The author is Elizabeth Winder, and it’s published by HarperCollins.)

Pain, Parties, WorkThe book about the summer that Plath spent in New York City in 1953, having won a coveted job as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine’s annual college issue. This of course was long before she became a published poet. (Or married fellow poet Ted Hughes, and we all know how that turned out. Badly.) As the book’s jacket blurb says, “The bright, blond New England collegian lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended Balanchine ballets, watched a game at Yankee Stadium, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She typed rejection letters to writers from The New Yorker and ate an entire bowl of caviar at an advertising luncheon. She stalked Dylan Thomas and fought off an aggressive diamond-wielding delegate from the United Nations. She took hot baths, had her hair done, and discovered her signature drink (vodka, no ice). Young, beautiful, and on the cusp of an advantageous career, she was supposed to be having the time of her life.”

I haven’t read it yet but in flipping through it I came across this evocative sentence:

vintage ad for Halo shampoo

The ads tried to make it look glamorous, but I suspect the primary thing about Halo shampoo was that it was inexpensive. And thus ubiquitous.

“Mademoiselle’s rooms were mirrored, dark green and pink – fragrant with the cypress scent of Halo shampoo.”

Halo shampoo – oh my goodness! Remember that? Wasn’t it kind of ubiquitous? (Perhaps because it was cheap?) It conjures up images (and the soapy, Halo-y smell) of Saturday-night bathtime when I was a little kid at the Manse. Who knew on those 1960s bath nights in tiny Queensborough, Ont., that we had something in common – our shampoo – with the glamorous young “professional gals” who worked at a glossy fashion magazine in New York City?

Anyway, here’s a little bit more Halo memorabilia before we sign off:

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