The origins of personal cleanliness and the products designed to achieve it dates back to ancient times. However, it would take centuries of innovations in modern science to truly understand the composition of hair and soil in order to develop a shampoo to beautify hair. By the 20th century personal care products formulated specifically for shampooing of the hair were poised for a breakthrough.
An article published in the New York Times in May 1908 outlined a number of “simple rules” for “How to Shampoo the Hair” to give it a soft and glossy appearance and texture. It should be noted that many “beauticians” now recommended shampooing the hair “as often as every two weeks,” instead of once a month to remove the gradual build up of soils both natural and environment. And that washing the hair was now safe because new improvements in hair shampoos were just emerging. With this new understanding of “hair hygiene” and women trading in their long locks for the modern bobbed hairstyles a shampoo industry was born.
In Europe a Berlin chemist Hans Schwarzkopf (does that name ring a bell), opened a drugstore with a special section dedicated to creating new products for the care of hair. From the world’s first liquid non-alkaline shampoo in 1933 the Schwarzkopf Institute for Hair Hygiene has remained a leader in hair product innovations for the professional hairdressing industry.
As the saying goes; if you are thinking of a solution to a problem you can bet someone else is also. Indeed, at the same time Dr. John Breck also a chemist introduced the first pH-balanced shampoos to America and hired an illustrator to create pastel portraits of what was to become know as the “Breck Girls.” The portraits mirrored the hair fashions of the time and the campaign would become one of the longest running in American history reaching its peak by the 1960s.
It would take a hairdresser with a background in chemistry to point out that the hair is made of “protein” and would respond well if treated with protein and modern shampoos took a leap forward. In the late1960’s Jerry Redding teamed up with Hollywood starlet “Paula Kent” to introduce the first organic Ph Balanced protein shampoo and protein treatments sold exclusively through beauty salons under the name Redken Laboratories. Besides manufacturing the first protein hair care products Redken also introduced the concept of “salon retailing” which was considered un-professional at this time. This opened the door for dozens of new shampoos each laced with every type of additive imaginable and a multi-billion dollar professional beauty industry was born.
Although they have many things in common, the chemistry of shampoo is an “art and science” making each shampoo formula unique. The innovations in shampoo in the past one hundred years are due to the concern for hair hygiene and the development of “surface-active” cleansing agents called "surfactants" designed to break down and distribute healthy natural oils and improve the texture while washing away contaminants.
Shampoo has been formulated and marketed to target specific types of hair since the mid 20th century, but modern shampoos have reached a pinnacle of performance and specificity in resent years. There are now countless shampoos some with rare or even nano-sized ingredients to magically transform your hair into a thing of beauty. If you want to look like a star or celebrity and feel you’re worth it, L’Oreal has you covered. For the Fashionista’s set, dozen’s of fashion designers and celebrity hair stylists have designed a special shampoo to give you the look. However, if you’re looking for professional results you can’t go wrong by “asking your hair stylist” to select the perfect shampoo for your hair. After all who knows your hair better then a hair stylist?