IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Accidentally Washed My Hair With Dog Shampoo

It’s the kind of the thing that could happen to anyone (but usually happens only to me).
Publish date:
February 17, 2014

Even though you guys only ever see me at my most put-together, I am the champion of making beauty mistakes. Mixing up concealer with lipstick and dabbing a bright red blotch over a zit right before leaving the house? That’s me. Body wash instead of face wash? Been there, done that. Confusing mace for a flashlight during a power outage in college? I’ve done that, too.

So really, it was only a matter of time before I mistook my dog’s ONE beauty product for my own.

The perimeter of my bathtub is usually pretty crowded with samples of shampoos, conditioners, treatments, bath oils and body washes. That’s just the life of someone who writes about this stuff.

I recently bought a small sample of new shampoo for Oliver, who, as I've written about before, has really dry skin. I keep it in check with regular grooming using a special brush, a good diet, and oatmeal shampoo. Well, as happens to all of us, his shampoo was discontinued, so I decided I’d test out a new brand and see if it worked. I left the tiny bottle on the perimeter of my tub so that it would be there when it was time to bathe my pup.

To put it mildly, Oliver is NOT a fan of bath time, and by the time I’d shampooed and dried him, I was exhausted and soaking wet--so I just kind of shoved the dog shampoo into the corner with a bunch of other misfit samples. When it was time to take my own shower and wash my hair, I had forgotten it was there.

And the shower was extra-steamy, because it’s so cold right now.

And I (obviously) didn’t have my glasses on.

And the bottle looked just like all the other bottles.

It was a perfect confluence of factors.

It wasn’t until I’d dried my hair and gone “Why does this smell so familiar?” that I realised what had happened. I immediately texted my friend Emily about it; she responded with “Good God, Lemon.”

Well-played, Emily.

But here’s the thing--even though I’m not going to be using dog shampoo on the regular, this is FAR from the worst product I’ve ever used to wash my hair.

My hair feels light and bouncy, and it’s especially soft. The smell is warm but not overpowering. My coat is so shiny and healthy-looking! I’m ready to take first place at Crufts!

But I REALLY like how it’s worked on Oliver’s fur. This polar vortex has been really rough on him, poor dude, so his skin has been especially dry and itchy. Medicated shampoos tend to make the dryness worse, so his vet told me to stick to the kind with oatmeal in them. This one has aloe in it as well, which has definitely helped soothe his flaky skin AND has the added benefit of making his fur very, very soft. That is a pretty huge deal; Oliver’s fur, especially towards his butt, is tough and wiry, and never feels any softer than the coarse side of a kitchen sponge.

After using this shampoo, even his wiry back end feels very soft and nice. It gave him some pretty great volume on his tail, too--you really haven’t laughed until you’ve seen your dog with his tail puffed up like a bottlebrush.

The main issue that I had with this shampoo is that, because it’s not formulated for coloured hair (duh), it stripped out quite a lot of my brunette. This was especially noticeable near my roots where the hair is less damaged and therefore less porous.

This isn’t bad enough to cry over, but it’s not great.

I also wanted to find out if dog shampoo is bad for humans, but as with everything, there’s a lot of conflicting information about this out there on the ol’ internet. It’s poison! It’s very gentle! Ugh, I didn't know what to believe. So I decided to go straight to the source and talk to Oliver’s vet.

His vet told me that dog shampoo probably wouldn’t damage my hair or scalp unless I used it frequently over a long period of time. But she also told me that, although I could borrow Oliver’s hair products in a pinch, he can’t borrow mine because human shampoo is very bad for pups. Dog’s skin is more basic than ours, with a pH level of between 6.2 and 7.4 (compared to humans, which is around 5.5), and so using human shampoo on them even once can cause peely, flaky, uncomfortable skin and an overly dry coat.

So, what did we learn?

I learned that I’m definitely buying the full-sized bottle of this shampoo for Oliver, because it works so well on his fur and skin. Fifteen dollars well spent!

I learned that I COULD use dog shampoo on my own head in an emergency, but that Oliver can’t ever use my leave-in conditioner (no matter how much he begs).

But mostly, I learned that I REALLY needed to clean out my bathroom. No more samples cluttering up every available corner! Order now prevails!

Oh, and because I’m sure you guys want another one, here’s a final photo of Oliver, who decided he was DEFINITELY too tired to take any more photos, but also didn’t want to nap anywhere but on my shoulder. Thanks Beans, I needed the arm workout.

Okay guys, let’s all be honest: Have you ever mixed up your beauty products. Also, if you wanted to share pictures of your dogs in the comments, I WOULD NOT BE MAD.