When I say “Raquel Welch,” you probably think of her in that famously babacious publicity shot. She’s standing on the beach in a busty, fur bikini. The earth is parting. Mountains are falling. Volcanoes are going off all over the place. You’re probably thinking of that action thriller, “One Million Years BC.”
When I say “Raquel Welch,” I think of something different. I think of mayonnaise. What’s the connection? Sit down and let me share a story about Beauty and the Condiment.
Raquel Welch was in Manhattan taking over the role played by Lauren Bacall in “Woman of the Year” on Broadway. The bi-coastal entertainment public relations agency where I worked assigned me as one of her press agents for the show. We met in the office after she landed from LA. Ms. Welch and I decided to schedule tea for the next morning at one of the fancy-schmancy tearooms on Park Avenue in the 50s. We would be reviewing her media schedule. I would need to be on my game.
But there was one big problem: my hair. It was dry. A “friend” (notice the quotation marks) had told me that using mayonnaise as a conditioner was an excellent solution.
That evening, after work, I bought a small jar of Hellmann’s. Standing in the shower, I scooped out a glob of mayonnaise and massaged it into my scalp. “What a great idea!” I said to myself as I coated my head, making sure to cover every strand. “Who would ever have thought that using a sandwich ingredient would remedy dry hair
When I finally finished scrubbing, I held my head under the flow of water. So relaxing!
Yet as much as I tried, the mayonnaise was not coming out. I shampooed again. And again. I turned the water to cold: maybe that would break down the oil molecules. It didn’t. I switched the water from hot to very hot. I could feel my head beginning to blister.
Perhaps mayonnaise as a hair conditioner wasn’t a beauty trick at all. Maybe it was just a big fat trick.
I stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around my head. Might the fabric soak up the oil? The answer was no.
I gave up and went to sleep.
The next morning, I awoke to an oil-soaked pillowcase. It was as if someone had been eating salad in my bed. I looked in the mirror. Although I no longer had dry hair, it looked like someone had drained a bottle of Bertolli over my head.
Keep in mind, this was the 80s. Big hair and volume were in. Think Farrah Fawcett and Jane Fonda. Everyone, including me, tried to get that perfect, fluffy, flicked-out hairdo. Mine was now hanging in literal strands of blecch-iness.
I got dressed (being careful not to touch my hair to anything) and was out the door. Since I lived on West 58th Street, I could walk to the tearoom. And if I did it fast enough, perhaps the cold air would get caught in my hair and give it some lift.
I entered the tearoom and tried to muster every ounce of self-confidence as I approached Raquel. We sat down. Sipped tea and blabbed. Discussed ideas for a Harper’s Bazaar shoot and a request to do a segment on “The Today Show.” I prayed that she didn’t notice my hair. If she did, she was probably wondering when was the last time I’d washed it. I couldn’t tell. Her eyes kept darting around the room, hoping someone would spot her.
Which brings me to Beauty Tip #1:
DO NOT USE MAYONNAISE AS A HAIR CONDITIONER. (Especially if you have a meeting with Raquel Welch the next day.)
Bonni Brodnick is the author of “Pound Ridge Past: Remembrances of Our Townsfolk” and a contributor to HuffPost; she wrote a weekly newspaper column for nine years. She was formerly on the editorial staffs of Glamour and House & Garden magazines. She is currently a student in Susan Hodara’s memoir workshop.