Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of TV commercials for products that promise “strong hair.” In these ads, there are lots of beautiful young women with Rapunzel-like hair being tied into knots. Watching all the yanking on the hair that happens in these commercials, I almost expect them to use one of the model’s hair for a game of tug of war.

As I’ve watched these ads, I’ve puzzled over marketing shampoos and conditioners that claim to make hair “3x stronger.” That’s because “strong” and “hair” are not two words that I would naturally associate together. “Shinier,” “silkier,” or “thicker” all make sense to me as desirable qualities for my hair. But stronger? That sounds a little out of the realm of what I need my hair to do.

So far, I’ve never had to depend on my hair to lift a 50 pound bag of cat litter into the car. Perhaps strong hair will provide a bubble of protection in the event of a head-on collision.  

So why should women care about having strong hair? The obvious answer is that if a manufacturer can convince us that having strong hair makes us feel more beautiful, and their product promises stronger hair, then of course, they are going to sell more.

I’m always amazed at how the people who market beauty products come up with a “new and improved” product benefit. When it comes to hair, “shinier” and “healthier” are old hat. Having “stronger hair” is a new quality that will help us walk out the door and into the world with confidence.

And if the ads convince us that having strong hair is a good thing, why not give the product a try? It’s a modest investment and once we’ve bought it, we can reap all the benefits without doing any additional work. I’m going to wash my hair anyway, why not get stronger hair while I’m at it? Unlike the rest of my body, my hair can get stronger without lifting weights or doing crunches. I don’t think we’ll ever see Dove promising a stronger body with every shower.

So are marketers smart and women just suckers for the latest product? I think I’ll take a less cynical tack. Companies are in business to sell products. And if $4.29 for a bottle of shampoo helps me feel better about myself, then it’s a purchase worth making.