“Shampoo” is a funny old word isn’t it? Apparently it originates from the Hindustani word ‘chāmpo‘ meaning “to press or knead the muscles”. The Portuguese word sounds pretty much the same as its English counterpart, but the spelling is quite different: Xampu (the letter ‘X’ is a bit of a tricky one in Portuguese, having 4 different sounds depending on its context).
Now normally I don’t give shampoo a lot of thought – I wash my hair in the morning and then move on with my life. But this changed recently when a friend told me something interesting. She said that since she moved to Rio, her hair had been really misbehaving, getting wispy and unmanageable. She went on to say that a carioca friend had told her that the secret was to use Xampu sem sal (shampoo without salt).
My first reaction was “They put salt in shampoo?!”. One would have to assume that they do.
Coincidentally, just a few days later Mrs Eat Rio went shopping and returned with a bottle of something called Phytoervas:
In one of those weird twists of fate, I discovered during my very next shower that my own bottle of shampoo had run out and so I was forced to give this xampu sem sal a try. Readers – my life has been transformed!
As I walked to work that morning, I realised that something was different. It was my hair! How can I describe the sensation? Sometimes words aren’t enough. I felt like this:
OK, so hopefully most of you realise that I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but in all honesty I did notice my hair felt a bit thicker and generally ‘better’ after I had used the sem-sal shampoo. In the interests of research, I read a couple of articles about this stuff and the basic message is that there’s no real scientific evidence for anything, but ‘beauty experts’ reckon the salt (which is used to help generate lather apparently) can dry your hair out.
I’m not sure if this is just a Brazilian thing or if they’re selling this saltless shampoo everywhere, but what I do know is that I’ve been getting some funny looks in the office…