Toupee Dismay

The other day I saw a guy wearing an obvious, and therefore pretty bad, toupee. It was one of those hairpieces where the hair looked like it was pasted down and hard as a rock, and the color and texture really didn’t match the horseshoe of surrounding natural hair. And then I realized, with a bit of a start, that it was my first bad toupee sighting in a really long while. What used to be a relatively frequent occurrence has now become a rarity.

There are two potential explanations for this: either the craftsmanship and realism of toupees has increased so substantially that they aren’t as noticeable, or men are just not wearing them as much as they used to. I think it’s probably a combination of the two factors. I tried to find information on whether male toupee sales are declining, but it doesn’t seem to be a frequently reported topic. Any Google search for toupees mostly turns up speculation about whether this or that famous person is wearing one. And if the speculation is right, hairpiece creation has improved, because the claimed toupees looked pretty natural.

It’s also clear that the bald look–including ultra-short hair and shaved heads–has become a lot more prevalent since the days when only Mr. Clean adopted it. As is often the case with fashion trends, it started with athletes and celebrities, and now it has worked its way down to the common man. And while not everyone has a skull shape that necessarily should be exposed to the world, a well-tended scalp always looks better than a bad toupee in my book. The fact that baldness has become accepted is a good thing, too.

If toupees are, in fact, going the way of the dodo, can Grecian Formula 16 be far behind?

“Cleansing” Versus “Cleaning”

Today I went to wash my hands in the restroom and noticed one of those dispensers of overly scented hand soap. In big bold letters, the dispenser touted the soap as “Deep Cleansing” — which made my teeth grind a bit.

IMG_1880What’s with the trend to replace “clean” with “cleanse”? Virtually any product that approximates the effect of soap and water on human beings now uses “cleansing” rather than “cleaning.” So, you see phrases like “deep cleansing,” or “gentle cleansing.” I’ve even seen an ad in which the actor says she likes “feeling cleansed” rather than “feeling clean.”

Why is this so? “Clean” is a perfectly good word that has been used for centuries. “Deep cleaning” certainly sounds more thorough than “deep cleansing.” So why isn’t it used?

I’m guessing that there are two reasons. First, no doubt advertisers and marketing managers have done studies that show that people will pay more if a product promises “cleansing” rather than “cleaning.” Maybe it sounds more highbrow. Second, “cleansing” has a softer sense to it. “Cleansing” sounds like something that might happen during a gentle spring rain, whereas “cleaning” conjures notions of attacking a dirty item with a stiff wire brush and Mr. Clean. (Of course, “ethnic cleansing” runs counter to this linguistic theory.)

It’s all part of the reason why I like to buy the generic versions of household products. They tend not to be infused with ridiculous scents, they tend not to be packaged in ludicous designs, and if they’re hand soap or hand cleaner, they use those simple, time-honored words. It helps that they’re cheaper, too.