Buying personal care products is more difficult than it needs to be. There are about 10 different items I run out of every couple of months. This never happens at the same time and I never know what exactly I’m looking for when I go to replace them.
It’s ridiculous to be standing in the “Men’s Shaving & Grooming” aisle at Target and have no idea which bottle of body wash you squeezed into your shower loofah that very morning. Did I use the Dove because that football player says it’s manly? I remember laughing at the commercial with the giant strong guy blowing everything up, but did I actually ever try the Old Spice? I use Old Spice deodorant (I think), but is it “Fresh Scent” or “Classic?” It’s right over there next to eight other types of Old Spice, several of which are only sold in pairs. Where the hell am I going to put the extra one for the next three months?
People who shop near me probably feel uncomfortable. I scour the aisles, debating aloud the merits expounded by each individual product. I try out hangover-inspired stand-up comedy on strangers: “Well, this one is new and improved but that one has a new lid that’s not going to spill as much. Why didn’t they just put the same lid on the first one or make the second one better, amirite?!?”
The toothpaste aisle is the worst. There are only like two toothpaste companies and they make about 1,000 different types. The Crest and Colgate racks are clearly delineated by their conveniently — maybe too conveniently — recognizable color patterns. Each of Crest’s 500 toothpaste varieties comes inside a box that is some shade of blue. Colgate is red and white, whether the product is best at removing plaque, stopping gingivitis, whitening your teeth or some type of new breath-freshening innovation that could even do something special like combat coffee stains or help you stop smoking cigarettes.
Why the fuck are there so many different types of toothpaste, seriously?
I typically try to get one of the Crest toothpastes approved by the American Dental Association.
Why do they even sell the ones that aren’t approved by the ADA? I don’t know — I think they should stop, but it’s clearly not up to me or I’d be able to swing through a Kroger aisle that only has a blue toothpaste in a little basket with whatever hand soap actually kills germs, dish soap that doesn’t promote its virtues by pointing out that theoretically you could clean an oil-soaked duck with it, some type of shampoo (I really don’t care which one), whatever laundry detergent I got last time because the time before made me feel itchy, the face lotion that doesn’t have that many chemicals in it and the hair product that makes girls like you.
Is that so much to ask?
Crest’s website has a special page for new and featured products, including “Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Extra White + Scope Outlast - Lasting Mint” and “Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection Invigorating Clean Mint Toothpaste,” which are among 41 different toothpastes listed. Special features include stain protection, glamorous white, vivid white, baking soda & peroxide, gel, regular, tartar-protection, ScopeTM, whitening, liquid gel, gum protection, fluoride anti-cavity and sensitivity relief.
One of them is called “Night Toothpaste,” which means THERE IS A TOOTHPASTE PEOPLE WILL BUY BECAUSE IT’S SPECIFICALLY MADE TO USE AT NIGHT WHEN EVERYONE BRUSHES THEIR TEETH.
Toothpastes aren’t the only product companies put in a different-colored box with a newly worded explanation of their benefits. There are too many different types of Tide. All anyone is trying to do is wash some clothes — maybe we wouldn’t have so much trouble figuring out which one gives us eczema if they didn’t include shit like “linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, propylene glycol, sodium hydroxide, borax, ethanolamine, ethanol, alcohol sulfate and polyethyleneimine ethoxylate.” And that’s in the “Original” version. I’d be more inclined to buy a particular version of Tide if the number one ingredient was just “soap.”
These are the types of things that make life unnecessarily difficult but also hilariously absurd. Companies spend millions of dollars developing each of these stupid products, each essentially the same as the next. I seriously have no idea if I have ever used the same type of laundry detergent twice in a row. I only use it once a week and it lasts a really long time. And since I never choose a product based on any reasonable expectation that it will actually do what it is specially known for, I always end up buying something with a relatively preposterous benefit — peanut butter you don’t need to stir or the hand soap that for some reason has olive oil in it.
These products typically do nothing special, and since that’s what I expect to happen I never really care.
CONTACT DANNY CROSS: firstname.lastname@example.org