Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Garden of Earthly Delights

When I was a little girl, a Garden of Earthly Delights stood on the end of my bathtub. Mysteriously enough, this garden, though open to all was not accessible by everyone. Unsuspecting Muggle eyes would have perceived a simple bottle of green shampoo perched against the peach-coloured tiles of my childhood bathroom. The more magically-inclined on the other hand, would surely have detected a portkey/shampoo worthy of Harry Potter.

“Like washing your hair everyday in a
mountain pool in a Garden of Earthly Delights.”

Sitting in that tub, as mum washed my hair (or gave me a “head bath” as she sweetly called it), I would inspect every inch of the shampoo bottle and its contents: the magic elixir was indeed Clairol Herbal Essence circa the mid to late 70s. The shampoo was touted by advertisers as having the power to transport bathers to an idyllic garden with the most “breathtaking” green smells on earth. It was said that hair so shampooed would reflect the "clean of a mountain stream" and the "shine of the morning sun". As fragrant as the first day of spring they also boasted. And it truly was.

How can one not love print ads from the 70s?
They don't make them like this anymore.

The woman on the cover of the bottle with the flowing mane of blond hair looked ethereal: like a princess of nymphs situated somewhere in a woody forest that smelled of flowers. Bathers were promised "beautiful thoughts of faraway places". They weren't kidding.

"It does such beautiful things to your hair, and your head." 
 "Your hair will get very excited." 

Surely the shampoo was the work of an ardent alchemist who combined natural essences of mysterious green herbs and enchanted flowers: Juniper, Birch leaves, Melissa, Mountain gentian, and special conditioners to create an unforgettable fragrance. The end product was a non alkaline, velvety-green liquid filled with natural protein. Or as I understood it at the time, something that made my hair feel and smell good.

There has been a recent renaissance of Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo related imagery and recollections available online. It's lovely indeed that a charming yet elusive memory from days past can now be revisited and honoured once more.
Links to peruse:

flickr photoset

flickr (a)

flickr (b)

flickr (c)


View a television commercial from the 70s:


  1. I used to love the smell of this shampoo- it is still in my memory. I wonder if it smells the same today. I'm pretty sure it is still around but the formula is probably different. I also liked the scent of Prell.

  2. I remember that shampoo. I remember the samples we use to get from time to time in the mail. One of my favorite things while growing up and still is. Who doesn't look forward getting some kind of surprise in the mail. But anyways don't remember if I got to actually enjoy a bottle of it. I did how ever get to enjoy Mr bubbles though. :D

    Oh and a bit off topic, did you hear about the original Kermit the frog? The Hanson family just sold it to the Smithsonian. You should write a thread about it. It would be really interesting.
    Gosh I miss the Muppet show. ;)

  3. K_Tigress: oh I loved free samples. It didn't even matter if I had no use for a particular item. It was free and therefore alright in my books. :) Shampoo samples were always my favourite though.

    Thanks for the tip about Kermit. I'll definitely look into it. The Muppet Show was brilliant. I remember looking forward to new episodes of it on Sunday nights with my dinner in tow.

  4. aximom9/28/2011

    when i was a teenager i not only loved the herbal essences nymph, i wanted to BE her. one day i went out and gathered as many wild rose, buttercup, daisy, violet and lilac petals as i could, with the intent to have a lavish bath. the flowers all turned back and coted the sides of the old fashioned claw tub as soon as they hit the hot water. they clogged the drain when i let the water out. my mother asked WHAT WAS I THINKING??? and my spa experience turned into a lengthy cleaning one. what a bubblehead i turned out to be! thx for the memories!! - carol

  5. Carol: that was probably the most charming story to ever grace this blog's comment board, ever. I can sympathize with you because it did in theory sound like such a wonderful idea. If only we could recreate the magical beauty of that world!

    Many thanks for sharing your memory with us. :)


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