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Can you wash your hair with dishwashing soap?

Rosarita rejoices…Hey, I totally agree with Rob about too many shampoo choices. Those aisles in the big box/drugstores are overwhelming. Even relatively simple choices like soap are crazy. Too many choices in the modern world, but no, I’d rather not return to the days of Prell only. Wasn’t that stuff dishwashing liquid in a different bottle?

The Right Brain responds:

It’s funny that you should mention Prell, Rosarita, because that’s one of our favorite old school shampoo brands.

A passion for Prell

For those of you too young too remember, Prell was one of the top two best selling shampoos in the US for years. (The top seller was Head & Shoulders.) But its history goes back much further: It was introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1947. It was famous for being one of the first products in a plastic tube instead of a glass bottle and for being so concentrated that all you needed was a “finger full.” In 1950s Prell was marketed for “women who wanted their hair to have that radiantly alive look.” But our favorite memory of Prell is from the late 60s early 70s when their TV commercial demonstrated the product’s richness by dropping a pearl in the bottle in will slink slowly to the bottom. You can see another nostalgic, albeit a bit creepy, commercial by clicking the link below. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Unfortunately, modern shampoo users haven’t shown the same passion for Prell and in 1999 Procter & Gamble sold the brand to Prestige Brands International. You can still find it in some stores – if you’re lucky.

Dissing dishwashing soap

But back to your question – was Prell just dishwashing soap in another bottle? While we can’t go back in time and look at the ingredients used in the first Prell formula back in 1947, we can tell that the “modern” version is a pretty standard deep cleansing formulas based on ammonium lauryl and laureth sulfates and cocamide DEA. These have been commonly used for decades and are certainly NOT just a dishwashing formula. Those are based on other surfactants designed for cutting grease and have a different cleansing and foaming profile. So another urban myth bites the dust. (BTW, you could wash your hair with dishwashing soap but it would likely dry out your scalp and leave your hair feeling like straw.)

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Do YOU have any fond memories of Prell or Breck or or any other nostalgic shampoos? Leave a comment and share your nostalgia with the rest of the Beauty Brains community. (And tell us what you thought about the husband washing his wife’s hair in that commercial. Something about that seems just a little bit odd.)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cindi July 9, 2014, 4:38 pm

    I love the smell of Prell!. I keep a bottle in my shower just to smell. Could I do dishes with it?

    • Randy Schueller July 9, 2014, 6:23 pm

      Cindi: You could although it may not have the grease-cutting power of a typical dish detergent.

  • ed January 5, 2015, 5:33 pm

    This brought back a funny memory. We had a big glass bottle of Prell when I was a kid and after seeing the commercial, my 7-year-old self dropped a marble into the top to repeat what I saw on the commercial. The marble was too big and stuck, irretrievably, in the spout and wouldn’t go in or out — nor would any of the Prell. I remember my Mom being mad, but more at the advertisers than me. 🙂

    • Randy Schueller January 6, 2015, 6:10 am

      Ha, that’s a great story, Ed! Thanks for sharing.

  • Pilgrim September 27, 2015, 4:29 pm

    i remember Clairol had an amazing shampoo and conditioner set called
    Clairol Condition. also, part of the set was a deep conditioner that was a thick paste in a jar. was left on hair for 30 minutes and washed out.
    was an excellent product. now they do the Herbal Essences.

  • Laureen March 11, 2016, 2:21 pm

    Palmolive makes hair soft!!!

  • Amanda L Bennett June 19, 2017, 10:27 am

    hi could you use the orange dawn dish soap to wash hair

    • Randy Schueller June 19, 2017, 11:25 am

      I would not advise it because household products are not designed for use on hair.