I’ve been using Vaseline (actually, store-brand petroleum jelly, but “Vaseline” sounds nicer) as a moisturizer for my scalp recently. The weather has been unusually dry, and a little Vaseline massaged into my scalp the night before I wash my hair helps keep the skin from getting flakey.
My hair is also a lot drier than usual, not only because of the weather but also because I just had my highlights touched up. The other night as I rubbed in my scalp treatment, I pondered the fried ends of my hair and decided that a little Vaseline couldn’t hurt – I would be washing it the next morning anyway. I usually use John Frieda’s Secret Weapon to tame frizziness, but to my surprise the Vaseline worked even better. The ends of my hair curled prettily like I’d just spent hours with a blow-dryer, round brush, and curling iron.
Some of you may wonder why I was so hesitant to put Vaseline on my hair. After all, you can usually find it in the African-American hair care section of any drugstore, so it obviously can be used for that purpose. Well, several years ago I modeled for some art shots for a photographer (friend of a friend from art school). In one set of pictures he had a specific look he was going for and asked me to slick my hair back to a point and make it shiny. He suggested just wetting it, but I had what I thought was a better idea.
I had recently read in Martha Graham’s autobiography how, before her performances, she used to put “handfulls” of Vaseline in her hair until it became “a smooth, shining strip.” That was exactly the look I wanted, so I slathered my tresses liberally with the stuff. Unfortunately, my hair did not become a smooth, shining strip; it was a greasy, stringy mess that refused to hold any shape. The photographer added some hair gel and spray to try and make it stick together long enough to take the pictures.
The pictures came out great, but it took me two showers and a lot of shampoo to wash all the goop out of my hair. I vowed never again to repeat my mistake. But now I know that a little bit of petroleum jelly can be a good thing for dry, frizzy hair, and it’s cheap to boot! I just have to resist the little voice that says “if some is good, more must be better.”