My Hair Struggles, or: ‘The Best Things In Life are at Walgreens’ (Part II)

posted in: Day In The Life 20
It’s clay, it’s clay!! Image: Wikipedia.


I told you on Saturday about my shameful hair/scalp secret and I told you I’d share about my big breakthrough solution the very next day.


First, I was eaten by arduous tasks. Then it was urgent to implore us all to be good citizen consumers (there is still time to be one, by the way!) These things had to be done. I had no idea when I posted that first post that it would all go down like this and I truly apologize for leaving you in the lurch. But it’s time to get down to business and I feel that the second part of this post ought to begin like the first one did. With a confession.

Over the past 18 months or so, I have spent an embarrassing amount of money in the pursuit of remedying my wimpier-than-ever hair. I don’t know how much I’ve spent, exactly; that’s a good thing. Consider that the last shampy I bought at Sephora cost 40 dollars. Forty dollars. For a shampoo! Not all of the products I’ve tried cost that much but … a lot of them did. I’m telling you, I was desperate.

And one of them should’ve worked! The fancy salt scrub that promised to rebalance and restore? Yeah, right. I looked like a frizzball and the big chunks of salt fell on my toes in the shower and hurt me. The bee pollen-whatever that was supposed to balance and bring my natural pH whatever to the whatever? Perhaps no bees were hurt in the making of the product, but no Mary Fons hair was improved, either. Thanks a lot, bees.

Some of you are thinking I should try a dry shampoo, maybe a decent hairspray. Oh, I tried ’em, all right. And they seemed to make things worse. Even fance brand dry shampoos would inevitably leave some crazy film on my hair that I felt put me back a few steps overall.

What a nightmare, all of it. I even bought a vitamin supplement! To take with my iron and my calcium! I took it for almost two months! No change. Zero. I was a wimp as wimpy-haired as ever.

So then the other night I’m at Walgreens waiting for a prescription. Out the window, fat, wet snowflakes were coming down. I saw my reflection. Sure enough, my hair was dying — it was 6 o’clock, after all, and I can’t have hair that lasts more than seven freakin’ hours or so without looking pathetic. I sighed audibly and thought, “Aw, hell, maybe there’s a shampoo at dumb Walgreen’s that’ll help me. Might as well look.”

I was at a big Walgreen’s in the Loop (State Street and Monroe, I believe), so there was a lot of shampoo on offer. Too many to navigate without help, I decided, so I pulled out my phone to and tapped in, “good shampoo oily scalp walgreen’s.”

And that’s when my life in hair changed.

That night, I discovered L’Oreal’s “Extraordinary Clay” line of haircare products, specifically made “for oily roots and dry ends.” The bottles were a bilious green, but I did not care that night, nor do I care now. I bought each of the components: the shampoo, the conditioner, the hair mask. I got home, put it all near the shower, and went to bed.

The next day, I grumpily went about my morning ablutions. Honestly, I had zero faith that the stuff would work. (Why would it? The super-fance stuff sure didn’t.) But I did the hair mask, anyway. It felt weird. I looked like a Kewpie doll. Whatever. I grumbled through my mask time, though I had to admit … I had never tried a hair mask. Maybe it would do something. Hm. Then I did my shower thing and used the shampoo and conditioner.

And after I combed and blow-dried my head, my hair was silky. It was not limp. Friends, my hair was better.

Like, way, way better. I hated taking so long to get back to you on all this, but really, it’s good thing; I’ve been able to use the Extraordinary Clay stuff for a few more days and now can give you a better review.* I’ve used the stuff twice, now — the mask just once — and I’m telling you:  My hair is fluffy. Let me repeat that:


That’s pretty exciting. I’ve got the fluff!

Maybe the Extraordinary Clay “system” will cease to fluff me after awhile. But for now, I’m telling you: This stuff is awesome. And it sure ain’t 40 dollars a bottle. So I’m in a good mood. I’m smiling like a dork. The best things in life are at Walgreen’s.

*NOTE: L’Oreal is not paying me in money, products, or anything else to say any of this, but THEY ABSOLUTELY SHOULD. 

20 Responses

  1. Heather
    | Reply

    Your description of ‘wimpy’ hair describes exactly how mine behaves – and I’m not surprised to read today’s big reveal because I too discovered the Extraordinary Clay Shampoo and Conditioner a couple of months ago. It sure makes your hair feel different. While its definitely better than any other shampoo I’ve tried, I have to say that we are going through a humid heat wave here in Auckland, New Zealand, so I’can’t quite get through 2 days looking fresh at the moment – but I think that’s more due to the atmosphere than the product. Maybe I should try the hair mask too. By the way – have you noticed that almost no shampoo companies even produce a product that is labelled for ‘oily’ hair? Its like they are too afraid to even put the word on the product – and they call it ‘balancing shampoo’ or ‘for fine limp hair’ or some other euphanism.

  2. Li
    | Reply

    I know what you mean. I like fluff also.

  3. Diane
    | Reply

    Ablutions! My favorite word! It always puts a smile on my face to come across it in writing.

  4. Kelly A Fox
    | Reply

    Sephora takes back products you’re not happy with. Just sayin’. 🙂

  5. Jill
    | Reply

    I’m shopping tomorrow at Walgreens. I’ve been putting up with wimpy hair for 58 years!, Can’t hardly wait to try it!

  6. Sherryl Linnert
    | Reply

    Well girls, I just turned 69 this week and I can guarantee you that I have tried 50 times more products than all of you put together. My “baby” hair has caused me excrutiating sadness, embarrassment and pain over the years. I’ve looked like a brillo pad, a grease trap, and small stringy mop and those were on my good days. Then I happened to try a shampoo from Walmart that I had seen so many times but discounted it because it was so cheap. I had tried every expensive shampoo and conditioner (I know some people say we shouldn’t use condtioner) on the market and would end up giving them away or throwing them in the trash after a month. Ok, so I tried Garnier Pure Clean Forifying Shampoo and it worked. Because my hair balls up in the back with any shampoo, I have to use a conditioner. I found that Garnier Volume Extend works perfectly with it. Now since I started using them, Garnier decided to change the formula and when I realized it I started buying all that I could find. Right now I have about 40 bottles each of them. I use a small amount of Deva Curl Volumizing foam on some days if I want some curl. I also found that Sebastian Shaper hairspray is wonderful for fine hair. It’s not too heavy and won’t weight your hair down. My stylist that cuts my hair says she can’t believe how much hair I have at my age. Also, I only have a few grey hairs at 69. Eat 2 organic eggs every day, preferrably with the yolk either soft or runny (best for the nutrition) and drink almost a gallon of water every day. I have many health problems but I have to brag on my hair because that’s the one good thing I have. But it’s not always been like that. Before I found these combinations, I was always wimpy, wimpy wimpy.

  7. Kristin
    | Reply

    FYI– ablutions is one of my favorite words. So is kerfuffle. 🙂

    • Kristin
      | Reply

      Awwwwww, man!! I just saw that Diane stole my thunder what are the odds that two of your readers adore the word ablutions??!?!

    • Marianne Fons
      | Reply

      Mary’s mom, here, chiming in on beloved words. I love “kerfuffle,” too, and am excited when I’m able to use it in conversation (which is more often than one might think). A great synonym for kerfuffle is “dustup.” Another great word in this category is donnybrook, but I think you have to frequent non-fancy bars in order for it to come up in conversation. One of the benefits of renovating the Iowa Theater in Winterset, Iowa (Mary has written about this in the ol’ PG), is I have the opportunity to use the word “marquee” often!

  8. Debra
    | Reply

    Hair-a-lujah! I’m headed to Walgreens tomorrow. Will take your assurance that the stuff in the picture is clay. Hopefully not the same clay L’Oréal uses.

  9. Anne
    | Reply

    I’m happy you found some hair relief! My hair woes went away with the use of Davines OI shampoo and conditioner. They’re on the pricey end, but if L’Oreal starts to let you down … check out the OI line.

  10. Kim
    | Reply

    Thank you! I will try it. I’ve been dealing with this same problem for 60 years, and it seems to be getting
    worse with age. I must tell you how much I have been enjoying your writing and your hair looks great on tv!!

  11. Brenda King
    | Reply

    Thanks Mary! I’ve been dying to hear what you had to say! I’ll be going to Walgreen’s tomorrow, and you can bet I’ll look for those hair products!
    Looking forward to fluffy hair! Brenda King, Bend, Oregon! Oh yes, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” to you and all your family and friends! : )

  12. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    Mary, I urge you to buy every bottle of this stuff you can find. By the time you exhaust your current supply the maker will change the formula or size or package or do something annoying to “improve” it. Sometimes they just stop making it . Glad you finally found a product that works for you.

  13. Brenda C
    | Reply

    I’m 67 and have had wimpy baby fine hair all my life so I look forward to trying your suggestion. Isn’t it just awful when your hair just lays there, flat on your head and with no “oomph” to it. I don’t think my scalp is oily, in fact, it may even be on the dry side plus I now am experiencing thinning at the crown. Oh, poor me, maybe it would be easier to just shave it all off and get a quality wig made with the hair that is cut off instead. Then at least the coloring would “match” me.

  14. Amy Spungen
    | Reply

    So funny. Thanks for sharing your hair-trauma and -triumph story, Mary. I sit here, frizzy headed, dizzy with excitement at the possibility of effective hair control. Must head for the drugstore immediately! This reminds me of an event I attended about a year ago, when a black woman made a presentation about her hair and the challenges black women face on a number of levels about what constitutes “good hair.” The Q&A followup centered on black and white hair challenges, somewhat different, but similar in other ways. We felt united by hair and humor! 🙂

  15. […] explain everything tomorrow — and this time, I won’t leave you hanging. Hey! That’s kind of a phone joke. “Hanging”? Get it? Like a phone? Hanging up? […]

  16. […] winning. I’ve got a round brush and I know how to use it. I have a x great curling iron. I like my shampoo. And it’s exciting, because lately, four or five days out of the seven-day week, I have at a […]

    • Richard Stofer
      | Reply

      I rarely reply to your posts, but certainly enjoy them.
      As a 50 year old man, my hair is honestly not been a huge concern until the ol’body clock started ticking past 45.
      In my youth I had more hair than brains. Long, unfrizzy, blond locks that most of my girlfriends were jealous of.
      Now, I still have lots of hair, tho streaks of gray demand real estate and selfishly want attention.
      Gray is not the problem, its the dry frizzy garbage that has moved in that is. Like bad neighbors moving in across the street, I just have to deal with it. $40 dollar shampoo and special conditioner is really not even on my radar. Nor is any sort of man vanity but simply I don’t want frizzy dry grays busting out like bean sprouts all over my head.
      So my question to you and fellow followers of the ol’ PG, what has worked for some of you?
      I guess it is sort of vanity, but I just don’t wanna look like a pad of steel wool is plopped on my noggin.
      Any help people?

      BTW I was in the first round of letters when you first started the P. O. box and will be a loyal reader no matter how much razzing my wife gives me.
      Write on Mary, write on. RS

      • richard stofer
        | Reply

        man, this is supposed to be in todays post, not decembers. it took me 30 minutes with my big gorilla fingers to type. bummer.

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