Science Vs Shampoo


If you’ve ever watched a shampoo advert, you’ll know that hair needs amino acids, would be catastrophic without a regular wash in vitamin PF16 and various extract, and that 80% of women agreed about something to do with shininess.*

Shampoo adverts have a failsafe formula. Firstly, they target your sense of wonder (wow that hair is shiny, I want to tie my hair in a knot and have it look that good etc). Secondly, they reassure you that this shampoo is the real deal (that’s a long sciency word, they must know what they’re on about, 80% is quite a lot etc).

Broken down like this, their tactics are blindingly obvious, but in the moment, whilst waiting for ‘Britain’s Got The X Voice’ to come back on, you might just buy it.

Here’s the point. TV ‘dog expert’ personalities are shampoo advertisers. Not literally of course- they tend to have less than lust worthy hair- but you buy into their way because of a nice blend of mysticism and pseudo science. Then you are a ‘follower’. People tend to stick with one doctrine- be it in religion, hair care or dog training. This can be dangerous, because the sense of loyalty you will feel trumps your common sense. You might end up viewing people of other religions as sinners, forking out way to much in pursuit of shininess, or, god forbid, listening to Caesar Milan.

What’s great about following your favourite shampoo dog trainer is that you can find their helpful hints anywhere- watch their programs, find them on youtube, buy their books, their DVDs, their products. They are a highly successful group of showmen and businessmen and his largely harmful methods spread like wildfire.

My 2 top tips to guard yourself against ‘shampoo’ dog trainers are:

  1. Be vigilant against commonly used manipulation strategies, and retain your common sense.
  2. Look for qualifications. Would you go under the knife of a surgeon who hadn’t studied medicine?

Alas, shampoo trainers are only half of the problem. The people in possession of the bulk of animal behavioural knowledge are not showmen, in fact they are quite the opposite. They are researchers, working quietly in an office/dog centre to add to a wealth of know-how. This typically ends up in a dusty journal, subscribed to only by other quiet, hard working, researcher types. What’s the use of a can of paint if you’re not going to put it on a wall?

So, I trawled through youtube on your behalf to find these two gems (in terms of worth, not shininess!). Enjoy!

Zak George  Dr Sophia Yin

Image from


*4 out of 5 women said their hair ‘didn’t look any worse than before’.


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