Home Living in Germany Lifestyle Rinse and repeat with German shampoo
Last update on July 31, 2019

Bad hair…year? An American expat tests the truth of the advice that expats should switch to German hair products because they’re more suited to German water.

Let’s talk about my hair. Until recently, after a little over 8 months here in Germany, my hair had steadily developed into something I could no longer run my fingers through with ease, even after 14 conditionings and a 3-hour battle with a grooming instrument. Large, soft curls had transformed into gnarled knots resembling popcorn glued to a cat by a three-year-old. I had come to accept that this was a byproduct of age.

German hair products

Then I stumbled upon a side note when someone mentioned a selection of hair products in her blog entry about a supermarket. She advised that she’d heard that Americans should switch to German hair products because they’re made for German water. Seriously? Where was this advice last September?

Expat hair products in Germany: Switching to German shampoo

That evening, Paul and I engaged in this conversation:

Kari: I need to get some German shampoo, ASAP. Today I read that it’s made for German water, and I should switch.

Paul: We’ve had this conversation before.

Kari: Uh. No we haven’t.

Paul: Yes we have.

Kari: Paul, we have never talked about me needing German shampoo.

Paul: I told you people at work were paying a ton of money to ship shampoo in from America and I didn’t understand why they were doing it because it wasn’t made for German water.

Kari: That is not a conversation about me needing new shampoo for my hair.

Hair today gone tomorrow

As it turns out, Paul, for months, had thought I should have switched shampoos, and yet Paul, for months, had watched my hair deteriorate into a nest that is empty only because it has been condemned even by the birds. Not even my trusty Humectress was making headway.

So, Paul kindly picked me up some German Pantene so I could try something simple before I went to stand in front of an aisle for a week, reading bottles and deciding what’s best for my hair.

I had to wash my hair twice, because German Pantene rejected the first layer of what I’d allowed my hair to become.

The second lather presented the kind of experience that typically comes only when your head is tilted in the chair of the beauty parlor, as someone massages the perfect shampoo through your hair while their chest uncomfortably smothers you, and yet you find yourself in heaven, eyes closed, wearing a dopey smile because your hair feels like a Vidal Sassoon commercial and you feel a twinge of guilt that you’re not paying $75/hour for the head massage. My own lather was feeling like a Pantene commercial, and I was starting to feel like I should be paying myself $75/hour. I did not want it to end.

For the next 12 hours, I could not stop running my fingers through my hair and wearing a dopey smile. The casual observer might think I was going about my day with the song You’re So Vain as my soundtrack and aspirations of a career as a hair-blowing-in-the-fan model, but really I was just a dope with hair that didn’t feel like ass.

Let’s take a look, shall we? Here are some shots over the past few months; and shots from this morning when my hair was air-dried, without additional product or (as you can see) styling. You be the judge.

Before / after:

The benefits of German shampoo while living in Germanysteps in using German shampoo

Before / (and for you, Paul) after:

Choosing shampoo in GermanyGerman hair products

Note to those actually seeking shampoo: pretty much anything in the stores will be for the German market. Also, try the salons. Don’t buy from commissaries, the PX, or, presumably, base salons.