Sure, when Luke Skywalker showed up on The Mandalorian a few weeks back, I geeked out just as much as any other Star Wars nerd did, but while the show gets a lot of fanfare for bringing in classic characters, one of my favorite things about The Mandalorian is how it’s filled in some of the more mundane details of the Star Wars universe. Like, we‘ve finally gotten to see what a Star Wars toilet looks like and we’ve discovered that their portable safes look a lot like ice-cream makers. So, as Jon Favreau and the rest of the show’s writers and producers work on Season Three, I’d like to propose that they tackle another mysterious Star Wars detail: Wookiee hair care.
Although there are some behind-the-scenes shots of Chewie being combed by makeup people, it seems that this topic has only been directly addressed once in a Star Wars story, and that was in the pages of the Chewbacca comic book miniseries from 2000. In that series, Chewbacca dies and afterwards, Han Solo is seen getting nostalgic over a metal hairbrush that looks kind of like a carpentry tool.
These panels were brought to my attention by Chewbacca superfan and cosplayer Gavbacca, who knows of no other references to Chewie’s in-universe bodily maintenance. I also spoke to the writer of this comic, Darko Macan, who was equally unaware of any further details on the subject, though he did say, “I would hazard a guess that back on Kashyyyk, the grooming was probably a mutual thing, but I can’t imagine Han combing the space lice out of Chewie’s fur on the Falcon.”
So, with official details on the subject being rather scant, I’ll have to turn to some other experts to fill in the gaps on what it takes for Chewie to put himself together every day.
First of all, dog groomer Lisa Mitchell says that Chewbacca is going to have to comb himself every day, and unfortunately, the tool you see Han Solo tearing up over just isn’t going to cut it. While I’d thought that weird brush was an Industrial-Light-and-Magic-certified space brush, Mitchell tells me that it’s nothing more than a very earthly “shedding blade.”
Mitchell tells me that a shedding blade helps to remove excess fur, but that wouldn’t be enough on its own. “That will help with Chewie’s fur, but it would just brush over mats. He needs a good comb, some thinning shears and a clipper,” Mitchell explains. The comb would be for daily combing all over his body, the thinning shears would be to help loosen knots and the clippers would be to remove mats from between his toes and other uncomfortable areas. “It’s a lot of work,” she says. “That’s why I don’t recommend people having long-haired dogs like Old English Sheepdogs or Briards unless they have enough time to brush them regularly.”
Now, that’s what Chewie should be doing to maintain his fur every day, but he’s not competing in Westminster, he’s saving the galaxy from the evil Empire — and not being sufficiently thanked for it either — so it might be safe to say he doesn’t do all that grooming every day. This makes sense because the Chewbacca I know — particularly in the original films — kind of looks like shit a lot of the time. His fur looks ratty and dry as fuck, so he probably doesn’t do all the stuff Mitchell says he should be doing. Instead, he’s likely just using that shedding blade to get rid of some excess fur every day or two. This is further supported by the fact that Chewie does shed. That’s canon — and remains canon — thanks to the novelization of The Force Awakens: “Fingers straining, [Rey] just managed to reach the shield controls and flick them to life, in the process having to brush away several clumps of excessively long, rough yellow-brown hairs that had become caught in the console.”
But, if you take a good look at Chewbacca, you’ll notice a distinct difference between the hair on his head and the rest of his body. His torso and extremities seem to feature all kinds of mats and uneven clumps of fur, yet his head seems rather smooth and preened, as if he thought simply combing his head hair would be enough to impress the Wookiee ladies. To achieve this level of smoothness, Mitchell is sure that the shedding blade would be insufficient, which means Chewbacca’s got to have another comb somewhere, perhaps in one of those few-dozen mystery pouches on the sash he’s always wearing. With that comb, Chewie is likely combing his hair a couple of times a day at least.
Not only that, but Chewie definitely uses some kind of hair product for the top of his head, otherwise he’d have hair in his eyes all the time. Gavbacca — who’s been doing his Chewie tribute for five years — tells me, “Some wookiee builders do use hairspray on the face, but me, not so much because it gets sticky, and when you comb it, you lose hair.” Instead, he glues his head hairs down with silicone when he’s building his suits. But glue isn’t a practical solution for a real Wookiee, so Chewbacca’s probably using some kind of hairspray daily. Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t available on the forest moon of Endor, because Chewie’s hair looked like shit in Return of the Jedi.
Then there’s the question of Chewbacca’s showering habits. For long-haired dogs, Mitchell says she recommends they be bathed every month because their fur and skin would dry out if you did much more than that. I’d have to imagine, though, that the Millenium Falcon would be pretty ripe if Chewie only showered monthly, so I’m guessing he showers at least every week or two weeks, which would account for how dry-looking his fur is.
Before his shower, Mitchell says he’d have to comb through all of his hair, otherwise those knots would just get tighter. As for what product he uses, Gavbacca says that it’s got to be whatever the Star Wars equivalent is to Mane ‘n Tail detangling shampoo, which is a horse and pet shampoo that a lot of people with really thick hair use on themselves. Kathy, a New York-based hair stylist, also recommends “deep conditioning and maybe some keratin to get the frizz out, though I doubt he does that because he looks really dry and disgusting.” Once again, I’m guessing Chewie’s routine differs from his head hair to his body hair, so I’ll venture a guess that he conditions his head hair and just uses the Mane ‘n Tail everywhere else.
Finally — and most importantly — is the issue of whether or not Chewbacca uses some kind of flea repellent like Advantix or Bravecto, which Mitchell says she’d certainly recommend to him. At first, I figured that Chewbacca doesn’t have fleas because you never see him scratching, but after a little research, I found that many animals only itch from fleas if they have a flea bite allergy. Not only that, but here on Earth, there are about 2,500 species of fleas and just about everything with fur or feathers gets them. Since Chewie visits multiple planets on a regular basis, there’s no way he’s not carrying something on his fur. C-3PO even calls him a “flea-bitten furball” in The Empire Strikes Back, and being a droid who regularly cites statistics, C-3PO is hardly one to speak in hyperboles, which means Chewbacca does have fleas and likely doesn’t use any kind of repellent for them.
Actually, now that I’ve got all that out of the way, I think I have a pretty good idea of how Chewbacca grooms himself and I’d like to retract my request to Mr. Favreau to solve this mystery for me. Instead, I’d like him to tackle the question of whether or not Jedis have more than one set of robes. I mean, those things have to be sweaty as fuck, right? And if Jedi only do get one set, then I’m guessing Obi-Wan would have been stinking up the Millenium Falcon a lot more than Chewbacca was.