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‘I think I went blind for like three days’: Internet is divided over true meaning of ‘No More Tears’ shampoo

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 won’t sting a child’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 there’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 L’Oreal Kids Orange Mango Smoothie Shampoo with a caption that read in part, “One 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.”

The post triggered a new debate in the comments section. “Nah, no tears is definitely in reference to eyes and crying. Guaranteed,” one person wrote. Another countered, “It means it untangles your hair so well so when you brush it you won’t cry. It’s a girl thing.” And: “I have to go and rethink some things in my life.”

A look back on these classic hair ads only adds to the confusion.

Back in the early 1970s, Johnson & Johnson (which trademarked the slogan “No More Tears”) debuted “No More Tangles” detangler spray for kids, in a bottle that read, “No more tears.” In the TV spot, a preschool-age actress said, “I have this terrible problem with my hair after shampooing. The comb gets stuck in the tangles and it hurts. Thank goodness Johnson’s just invented No More Tangles … and see how shiny and manageable my hair stays.” Verdict: detangler.

Then there’s this contradictory J&J ad from the 1980s, starring a child shampooing her hair alongside her mother. “Johnson’s cleans gently,” says the mom. Her kid pipes up, “No more tears!” The mother adds, “So it can’t hurt my hair.”

“And unlike some other baby shampoos,” begins the mom, before her kid says, “it can’t hurt my eyes.” Verdict: Dizzyingly unclear.

There’s also this L’Oreal ad from 1991 for its Kids’ Extra Gentle 2-1 Shampoo, which features kids wearing bathing suits and washing their hair. “Tear free for eyes,” the ad claims, depicting a boy wiping serious gobs of suds from his eyes while smiling and laughing. Verdict: It won’t sting your eyes.

Johnson & Johnson has a modern-day explainer on its website called “What Does the ‘No More Tears’ Trademark Mean?” which reads, “It tells nurses that the product is formulated for ocular safety and tells mothers that the product is gentle, safe, and mild for their babies’ developing skin and eyes.”

The company also sells a baby shampoo-conditioner hybrid called “No More Tangles” made with its “No More Tears” formula.

And Baby Dove sells Rich Moisture Shampoo, which promises to be “tear-free” on its website. “’No Tears’ means that the formula is tear-free related to babies’ eyes,” a Baby Dove representative tells Yahoo Beauty. “Baby Dove Rich Moisture Shampoo is ophthalmologist, dermatologist, and pediatrician tested. The tear-free formula is hypoallergenic and pH neutral.”

Johnson & Johnson and L’Oreal did not return Yahoo Beauty’s request for comment.

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