One of the oldest and most controversial beauty debates is still raging: What is tear-free baby shampoo?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Some argue that a no-tears stamp signifies a gentle formula that wonâ€™t sting a childâ€™s eyes; others insist it means the product detangles hair, leaving it less prone to breakage. Complicating matters is this question: If the latter is true, does that also mean thereâ€™s no crying because hair is knot-free?
The questions surfaced on Instagram Sunday night when the comedy site F*ck Jerryposted a meme featuring Lâ€™Oreal Kids Orange Mango Smoothie Shampoo with a caption that read in part, â€œOne time when I was younger, I had some of that no-tears shampoo and I wanted to see if it was legit so when I was in the shower, I squirted it into my eye and I think I went blind for like three days.â€
The post triggered a new debate in the comments section. â€œNah, no tears is definitely in reference to eyes and crying. Guaranteed,â€ one person wrote. Another countered, â€œIt means it untangles your hair so well so when you brush it you wonâ€™t cry. Itâ€™s a girl thing.â€ And: â€œI have to go and rethink some things in my life.â€
A look back on these classic hair ads only adds to the confusion.
Back in the early 1970s, Johnson & Johnson (which trademarked the slogan â€œNo More Tearsâ€) debuted â€œNo More Tanglesâ€ detangler sprayÂ for kids, in a bottle thatÂ read, â€œNo more tears.â€ In the TV spot, a preschool-age actress said, â€œI have this terrible problem with my hair after shampooing. The comb gets stuck in the tangles and it hurts. Thank goodness Johnsonâ€™s just invented No More Tangles â€¦ and see how shiny and manageable my hair stays.â€ Verdict: detangler.
Then thereâ€™s this contradictory J&J ad from the 1980s, starring a child shampooing her hair alongside her mother. â€œJohnsonâ€™s cleans gently,â€ says the mom. Her kid pipes up, â€œNo more tears!â€ The mother adds, â€œSo it canâ€™t hurt my hair.â€
â€œAnd unlike some other baby shampoos,â€ begins the mom, before her kid says, â€œit canâ€™t hurt my eyes.â€ Verdict: Dizzyingly unclear.
Thereâ€™s also this Lâ€™Oreal ad from 1991 for its Kidsâ€™ Extra Gentle 2-1 Shampoo, which features kids wearing bathing suits and washing their hair. â€œTear free for eyes,â€ the ad claims, depicting a boy wiping serious gobs of suds from his eyes while smiling and laughing. Verdict: It wonâ€™t sting your eyes.
Johnson & Johnson has a modern-day explainer on its website called â€œWhat Does the â€˜No More Tearsâ€™ Trademark Mean?â€ which reads, â€œIt tells nurses that the product is formulated for ocular safety and tells mothers that the product is gentle, safe, and mild for their babiesâ€™ developing skin and eyes.â€
The company also sells a baby shampoo-conditioner hybrid called â€œNo More Tanglesâ€ made with its â€œNo More Tearsâ€ formula.
And Baby Dove sells Rich Moisture Shampoo, which promises to be â€œtear-freeâ€ on its website. â€œâ€™No Tearsâ€™ means that the formula is tear-free related to babiesâ€™ eyes,â€ a Baby Dove representative tells Yahoo Beauty. â€œBaby Dove Rich Moisture Shampoo is ophthalmologist, dermatologist, and pediatrician tested. The tear-free formula is hypoallergenic and pH neutral.â€
Johnson & Johnson and Lâ€™Oreal did not return Yahoo Beautyâ€™s request for comment.