How Shampoo Is Starting a Conversation About Mental Health

April 29th 2016

Almie Rose

Shampoo is something most of us use regularly, and unless it makes our hair fall out, we probably wouldn't find a reason to be angry with it. It's just shampoo, right?

But, somehow, a British body care brand has managed to stir up outrage with their line of shampoo, which was briefly offered for sale in America at Urban Outfitters locations.

Their anger and disappointment was so strong that Urban Outfitters pulled the item from their stores. So, you're probably wondering what could be so offensive about shampoo?

Presenting anatomicals' peachy head "peach shampoo for suicidal hair"

shampoo for suicidal hair

Some people see this and think of it as a harmless joke, but others aren't laughing at all.

The product, which is currently sold out on anatomicals' website, describes the shampoo as having "fruit extracts for a refreshing peach scent" and promises "extra softness." The back of the bottle features an illustration of hair throwing itself off of a cliff, along with this first-person narrative:

“Well, i knew it was feeling a little off color, but i just put that down to the bad dye job. i never knew my once beautiful hair would actually commit suicide by tossing itself off dramatic white cliffs to the rocks below. now look at me, completely bald”. before it’s too late, bring your locks back from a state of complete depression with this conditioning peach shampoo. it’s hair heaven here on earth.


A photo posted by Le Peche 🍑 (@peachdoble) on

The British beauty company is baffled by the response, with co-founder Paul Marshall telling BuzzFeed News, "the product has been on sale for a number of years without any complaints."

So why are complaints over a product that's been out for "a few years" piling up now? First of all, it's reaching more people due to its distribution through Urban Outfitters.

Second, it appears that there have been more open discussions about mental health and suicide than ever before, perhaps inspired by the suicide of actor Robin Williams. After his passing, many celebrities openly talked about their struggles with depression.

ATTN: reported in December of 2015 that suicide was the number ten leading cause of death in the United States, and is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-34.

The teen suicide rate is a big factor into why people are so outraged that the trendy retail store appeared to be glamorizing suicide by selling a hair product that made light of it. The CDC reported in 2012 that 1 out of every twelve teens have attempted suicide.

They also found that more female teenagers committed suicide than their male peers. In particular, 13.5 percent of teenagers who committed suicide were Latinas.

Marshall didn't exactly offer an apology for the shampoo, telling BuzzFeed:

We’re probably not going to continue selling the product. That’s not to say that we’ve [bowed] down to a couple of people who have made comments that we don’t agree with. So we’re not bowing down to a nanny state, that’s for sure. But we don’t wish to offend anyone, and that’s why we have removed it from sale.

No one is going to produce a product that is set out to cause offense, and we don’t set out to cause offense. We are a cool, young, fun, irreverent brand – look at all our other products, they all have cute, funny titles. We want to bring smiles to people’s bathrooms, we never set out to offend.

The "other products" have names like "be good with your hands in bed night time hand cream," "'get outta my face, dirtball!' apricot face scrub," and "smoother butts love coconuts coconut and mango body lotion."