Dear Mary: I am a cheapskate. I read your column for hot tips, particularly about Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. Recently, I have begun to use Dawn for a hair shampoo. My wife is aghast. She says my hair is going to turn blue and I will smell. She claims that shampoos have an acid-base balance that ensures shiny, luxurious hair. Do you have an opinion? How about using it for body wash as well? — Bill
Dear Bill: l have to admit that I was a bit aghast myself as I read your letter. And I came this close to firing off a response siding with your wife. But I stopped short by sending myself on a research expedition so I could tell you exactly why you should listen to your wife and never ever shampoo or shower with Blue Dawn.
Boy, was I in for a shock. Not only could I not find credible reasons to not use Blue Dawn for personal care; I discovered a cultlike following of people out there who swear by the stuff not only for hair care and body wash but also for a very effective acne treatment.
I found the list of ingredients in Procter & Gamble's original Blue Dawn and compared them to those in the most expensive men's shampoo I could find: Kerastase Homme Capital Force. While not exactly the same (for starters, Blue Dawn has far fewer ingredients) — and with full disclosure that I am not a chemist — let me tell you that I was stunned. From sodium laureth sulfate to methylisothiazolinone, Blue Dawn and Kerastase Capital Force have remarkable similarities.
I decided to take this research a bit further — into the shower, and not to clean the floors and walls! I shampooed, washed my body and gave myself a complete Blue Dawn personal spa treatment using the super concentrated Ultra version I had on hand.
I purposely didn't use any conditioners or other products because I wanted to experience the best- or worst-case outcome. I can't remember the last time my hair and I emerged so squeaky clean. Of course, I assumed I had just removed every last bit of moisture from myself, which I was willing to endure in the interest of product testing.
I styled my hair as usual, using my regular routine and styling products. I waited a few days to declare the outcome. My hair was fantastic and so shiny. Read that again: shiny! And super clean. My guess is the folks at P&G know something about what your wife refers to as acid-base balancing.
As for using Blue Dawn as a body wash, it was great. I felt so clean! I didn't notice any difference at all other than it requiring a lot of rinsing, quite possibly due to the high concentration in the Ultra version.
I've done more reading and poking around and come these conclusions:
Blue Dawn can restore hair in a number of ways because of its intense cleaning properties (remember the ducks and wildlife that were harmed by oil spills) — oil, product buildup, and other grimy liquids and dirt that regular shampoo isn't strong enough to clean.
If you accidentally color your hair too dark, Blue Dawn may lighten it.
Blue Dawn will deep clean your skin with no apparent adverse effect, even on my super sensitive skin.
I've begun diluting Blue Dawn with as much as 5 parts water, and it still works really well.
As for your hair turning blue or you smelling, I don't think I would be concerned about either unless you were to decide not to rinse, which I do not recommend. In fact, I suggest that you rinse, rinse again and repeat.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.