I have always considered that it would be better to be bald than have curly hair – which is a good job as most of my hair migrated in a southerly direction many years ago and now makes only brief appearances on my ears, the bridge of my nose and various other parts of my anatomy. Not so for Michael Scott Thomson. He is immensely proud of his curly locks and was seriously miffed when his favorite shampoo for curly tops disappeared from the supermarket shelves – so he decided to appeal to the manufacturer:
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I am writing because, comparatively recently, you manufactured, bottled and distributed what I can only describe as a veritable topically-applied ambrosia. Or, if you like, an elixir of life which nourished, protected, moisturised, tamed and, without wishing to appear in the slightest way narcissistic you understand, elevated the status of my appearance to the slightly-more-lofty levels of ‘not-bad’ as opposed to its usual ‘fair-to-middling’.
O Pantene, O brewer of enchanted follicular potion, it is the case that I have curly hair. Yet you have stopped making “Perfect Curls”. That is, the shampoo, conditioner AND the 2-in-1 combined variety.
Why is this, pray tell?
I have one bottle of my last year’s supply of shampoo left; there are about two inches of the stuff remaining. Even a promotional stripe under the lid proclaims ‘25% Bigger Size’. It’s just as well, is it not, that you were generous enough to give away a quarter extra back then, otherwise it would have ran out long ago. Maybe you considered you owed us curly-tops in lieu for the truly tragic moment in the then-future that you decided to unceremoniously whip it away from under our noses.
I’ve been using it at a premium – the tiniest dollop for the most special of special occasions. It’s been far too valuable for humdrum day-to-day application.
Let’s take a look at the back of the bottle. I always admired your instructions, always so much more than mere “rinse, lather, repeat”, inscribed in plain English:
“Do you have: Natural or permed curly hair?”
My answer: Yes. Natural though. Never permed. Funny, isn’t it, how people with naturally curly hair often want to straighten it out, and those with straight hair often want perms? Such folks, women usually, are often those who toy dangerously with those shocking white-hot pincer metal things, lethal gadgets like irons for one’s hair, its merest touch against human skin enough to administer third degree burns. A girl I know, in the process of curling her hair, once scolded her cheek with one of those things. The ensuing scar resembled a Cheesy Wotsit  glued to her face and there it stayed for the rest of the month, until her coffee break one bright morning when it peeled off by itself and floated, ever so gently, to the office floor. Still, I guess it keeps you conglomorates in business.
“But you want: Beautifully defined, shiny, bouncy curls?”
My answer: Yes please. My hair is the only part of me which can and does, to a degree, bounce when I use that shampoo, so it’s a welcome bonus to have the ability to do just that. Another part of me once tried to bounce, but it went horribly wrong. I won’t go into that here and I’ll leave you to guess which part. No, it’s not that.
On the bottle you next stated “Pantene’s 3 steps for beautifully defined, shiny, bouncy curls”, which were, in truncated form here, to use 1) Perfect Curls Shampoo, 2) Perfect Curls Conditioner, and 3) Pantene Pro-V Style Perfect Curls defining mousse.
Well, I can only assume this stellar advice, implied by the crushing blank spaces on the supermarket shelves where these products once stood, now reads something akin to this: Get lost, corkscrew-bonce!
I understand, you are not the first and will by no means be the last conglomerate to discontinue a perennial favourite with a loyal fan base. I’m still smarting over the disappearance of Lynx Apollo goodness knows how many years ago (that wasn’t you as well, was it?), and the lack of Fuse Bars has only been marginally compensated by the reappearance of Wispas. No, I’ve never tried to wash my hair with any of those things, but you know what I mean.
But really, nothing was quite like Perfect Curls. Your worthy competitors never quite reached the same heights. Sunsilk got the closest, although their bottles were never that big, and Herbal Essences weren’t bad with their wittily-named “It’s a Curl Thing” range (even though I assure everyone I’m every bit a man). But even those items have gone from the shelves. The only affordable option now is Naked Bounce, which, valiant effort though it is, just doesn’t cut it for me.
I hear through various online sources that you suggest, for curly people, using a (new?) mousse now available. I have to raise an exasperated chuckle at this. Me, mousse? Firstly, I don’t like putting sticky things in my hair. Sellotape, blu-tack, lollypops; it’s all bad. That includes mousse for me, I’m afraid. Besides, first thing in the morning when I am FAR from compos-mentis, fannying about with cloud-like goo is beyond the realms of my capabilities. I once, by accident, brushed my teeth with Bonjela for crying out loud. I spent the rest of the day looking like Ken Dodd and sounding like a Gumby.
But all may be not lost, and there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Last week I went to Spain for a relaxing holiday on the Costa Del Sol (I stayed in Coín – it’s where they used to film Eldorado – sorry, I digress again). The supermarkets there were generously equipped with ‘Rizos Perfectos’, and, since I have the benefit of being a fluent Spanish speaker, as well as having recognised the identical branding, knew the stuff at once. Such a novelty it was to see it back on the shelves again I almost did one of those clicky-heel things in mid air.
And, back at the apartment and under the shower, my hair, and indeed my nostrils, were treated to the most scintillating indulgence worthy of the highest spa in the land. It wasn’t only my hair which bounced for the rest of the day.
I came back with eight bottles. It’ll last me, ooh, three months maybe. Then what? A shampoo pilgrimage to the set of failed soap operas?
So after all the above piffle, I guess I should get to the point, and that is: I am wondering – have you really just stopped making Pro-V Perfect Curls, or is it just that you consider us Brits unworthy? Is there something about Spain and, potentially, the rest of Europe, which mean they are more deserving?
Did I just luck out on that occasion?
And if you have stopped it, is it really because people stopped buying it?
That could never be. Surely?
Yours in lots of hair,
Mike Scott Thomson
 For our American readers, a ‘Cheesy Wotsit’ is a strangely popular cheese flavoured snack which looks like a bright orange owl turd.
 Again, for our American readers, “bonce” is British slang for the human head. The original bonce was a large marble that featured in several children’s games of the nineteenth century. The English Dialect Dictionary suggests it’s a version of bounce, since such a marble was also called a bouncer and was “the large earthenware marble used for bouncing or playing with checks or cubes”.
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