Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weird Product Wednesday: Jellies, Gelees, Gels, and Goo

We curlies sure slap loads of slime in our hair.

And it's hardly ever called slime. It goes by a wide range of names:

- gel
- gelee
- gellie
- jelly
- goo
- custard
- pudding
- butter
- paste
- souffle
- cream
- creme
- meringue

(And I'm not even going to tackle the mousse, polish, pomade, gloss, serum, lotion, glaze monikers out there. Not to mention the milkshakes and elixirs and whatnot.)

Okay, cosmetic companies, we get it. These are all names for products that we can glop on our heads in some fashion. Obviously paste is going to be thicker than gel, so that sort of differentiation is helpful. But the difference between a gellie, a jelly, a custard, and a goo simply confounds me. Maybe it does to you, too?

Now, a gel we understand. It typically has some copolymers in it and it provides some hold. In fact, we use it almost exclusively for hold.

But this other stuff... It's a free-for-all of naming conventions! I used to think "gelee" meant it was a product from France. A "jelly" was going to be looser than a gel and probably not provide as much hold as a gel (I still believe this to be true, but your experience may differ). And goo, well, you're on your own with that one -- the name implies that it might be fun to play with but beyond that, who the hell knows?

And then we have the custards, puddings, meringue group, which is distinguishable from the gel, gelees, jellies, gellies, and perhaps the goo by its creamier quality. Some of these have copolymers and some don't, so the amount of hold they might provide is yet another crap shoot. Read the label and you might get a clue but chances are, your best way to know what the product does is to buy it and take your chances. Because for instance, Kinky Curly Curling Custard is not creamy, it's gunky. Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue, though, looks (and sort of feels) like it belongs in a pie.

Which slime do you reach for to keep your locks in prime condition? I confess to owning a wide assortment of all these crazy products, and depending on the weather, my mood, and the other products I might have applied that day, I'll reach for the concoction that offers some kind of balance to those variables. Sounds scientific, but in practice, it's as much an instinctive decision as an informed one. Do we need all these different products with their appetizing names? Probably not, but there's something deliciously fun about opening your medicine cabinet and having it look not so terribly different from your refrigerator.

Still, though, I'd like to see some standardization among product categories. Or maybe just call everything slime and distinguish its hold abilities by color. I don't know. What would you like to see?

1 comment:

Chai said...

I've been guilty of this on too many occasions! I'd really like to know how it started, because the instant I read a product is a gelly, whipped or what have you, I instantly think it's ideal for my hair. Seems like these companies realized this a while back and are capitalizing on our own willingness to give in! I know the Curls line just put out a new product that's described as...not quite a gel...not quite a serum ( I believe it's called 'Gel-les'c')...but nonetheless it's leaving ALOT of people intrigued enough to try it out...