“The quest for a better shampoo has been the Holy Grail of hairdressing” *

They appeared one day. A man installed them. Three immaculate women dressed in shiny white, their real beauty hidden under a layer of digital make-up, their hair in perfect shape. It wasn’t them I was seeing, they weren’t real. But they were looking at me, sitting on my balcony. I wondered how  long they would keep me company. Whenever I sat outside for a cigarette or coffee break, working from home with messy hair in my favorite old black jogging pants, we looked each other in the eye.

It was a few weeks after the heads of first three, then five blond women’were placed on a container filled with construction debris. The builders who put them there laughed their own heads off. Young men passing took selfies with the bodyless brainless women in the background. Three female street cleaners ignored the scene. They just talked and smiled, taking a break from their working duties.

The heads were training heads, clearly from the Schwarzkopf Professional Academy. Hans Schwarzkopf, a qualified chemist, opened a tiny drugstore with a popular perfume section in Berlin at the end of the 19th century. In 1903 he developed a powder shampoo and in 1927 he developed the first liquid shampoo. These days, Schwarzkopf & Henkel is one of the largest cosmetic companies in the market. Their website says they stand for innovation, reliability, quality, trust and competence. “We believe in the whole - being greater than the sum of its parts. We believe in a passion shared – a passion for hair. We believe in true partnerships – a two-way relationship for life.”

The 6 women, 2 identical sets of 3, remained untouched for a month. Then one day a word had been spray painted over the faces of the threesome on the right. “Brainwash”. A lovely addition.
They were soon hidden behind a new temporary wooden wall; instead of seeing their faces I now saw a door and sometimes a glimmer of their eyes behind it when one of the builders used it. It looked a bit as if it was a portal leading into their heads.

The logo for Schwarzkopf - German for “black head” is the profile of a head, usually in black, sometimes in white. It is a family name, maybe it started being used because all the prominent members of a certain family had remarkable black hair. In a different context it might almost sound like a word a racist might use. And the English word “blackhead” actually means a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. The Schwarzkopf women surely weren’t suffering from that. Or at least not originally. Being exposed to the elements now, their paper skin might have caught black stains I couldn’t see from across the street.

The 3 women on the left were still there but now the logo was targeted. One morning a white speach balloon came out of its lips. It was empty. It had nothing to say. Or maybe it was a big chewing gum bubble he was blowing thoughtlessly, about to blow up in his face. The women on its left sight were effected as well. Cracks started to appear in their perfect skin. Life on the streets is tough, they could have known.

Today, almost three months after they made their appearance, their faces are gone. What is left of them looks like an iceberg, being afloat. I like it much better like this. Schwarzkopf still has nothing to say and the bubble didn’t blow up. Yet. The builders continue working steadily, some time this year they will have finished the hair academy on the ground floor plus 19 fancy apartments on the upper floors, indoor communal swimmingpool with fully equiped gym and outdoor roof terrace with swimming pool and stunning views. I imagine real women sitting behind those windows then with perfect hair, looking at me sitting on my balcony. Maybe I’ll wave at them from the other side.

* (quote from: Hairstory. The history of shampoo. https://www.hairstory.com/stories/2017/3/24/the-history-of-shampoo/)

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