THE SHAMPOO BUBBLE|
by Hair`s How
With its ancient origins in spices and oils, Shampoo is perhaps one of America´s most beloved cosmetic products, but where did it come from and why is there ‘poo´ in the name?
Probably the one thing no American woman can live without is her shampoo. Seriously, can you imagine a life without your shampoo? It´s a daily ritual, once a luxury of the pampered ar-istocracy, now as commonplace as the counter-full of bottles and tubes that clutter up the vanities in bathrooms across America. And it´s adver-tising messages are part of our daily life as well. In fact one of the first advertising pages in any women's magazine is for shampoo! Infusium tells us we “have problem hair. Meet your solution” and Vive Pro urges us to “give your hair the Royal Treatment” and, “With Nexxus your hair won´t experience a dull moment.” But, it´s only been 100 years or so since that modern shampoo was born.
Of course, around the world, the ancients of Egypt, China, India, and Greece have been oiling and spicing their bodies in sacred rituals dependent on their environment, surroundings and nature-based beliefs since the dawn of civiliza-tion. These ancients discovered oils like palm and coconut for soothing scalp irritation and shining hair. They experimented with different leaves, fruits, herbs and bark using these natural elements to create soapy foam to rub through their hair as well as to remedy head, hair and scalp ailments. The first European travelers were just merchants and adventurers and paid no heed to these ritu-als. But they were sincerely surprised by the fact that in other parts of the world, people were in earnest about caring for their appearance.
The Chinese washed the body regularly and the Chinese women applied fragrant extract of cedar on their hair for better growth. And, in Indonesia the natives cooked up a special mixture of rice strew and rice husk and discovered foam for washing hair: after burning rice straw or rice husk, the alkaline ashes caused foam to form when mixed with water. After that, the mixture was rubbed in hair and then was washed off. Their hair became clean but very dry, so that´s why the Indonesians further moistened their hair with coconut oil. Arabian women boiled the peel of quince and the Philippine women soaked stalks of aloe in cold water. These local means used in different parts of the world made the hair look marvelous. As a result, together with the Chinese tea and other goods from around the world, Europeans brought home the habit to wash. In Northern Amer-ica the Indians taught the settlers from the Old World to use the root of a soapy herb, relative of carnation, for hair washing and also to use the extract of the bushes of chaparral for getting rid of dandruff.
The Name ‘Shampoo´
Once the East finally penetrated into the sphere of European interests and the British settled in India, they noticed the sparkling snow-white smiles, washed-up appearance, and the beautiful hair of rich Hindu women shining under the parching sun. The Hindi ‘champo,´ accord-ing to the translation, is ‘to massage,´ or ‘to rub.´ The Hindus washed their hair with special herb mixtures from Sanskrit/Hindi word ‘champa,´ the flowers of the Michelia Champaca plant, which have traditionally been used to make fragrant hair-oil. So the Anglo/Indian word was born: ‘Shampoo.´
By the end of the 19th century only ashes and soap were known in Eu-rope. Soap left a white tint on the hair and only the wealthy aristocracy could use expensive oils for hair washing. From then on, the invention of shampoo is attributed to Englishman Kasey Herbert, the 20th century pio-neer of shampoo. His shampoo was a mixture of dry powder from soap and herbs. He seemed to be in financial straits and that is why Herbert´s shampoo was not an instant success. He simply sold his shampoo in the street in front of his house in London. For the real success he did not have enough scale. And although there were no fireworks in his honor, his dry powder shampoo was soon selling in London´s finest hairdressers, in bar-ber´s shops and druggists´ cosmetic departments. So, London entered the 20th century as the pioneer of shampoo.
The Birth of the Bottle
The news about the invention of shampoo reached Germany incredibly quickly, where the people washed their hair using anything they could. In order to avoid thick soap residue on their hair, the Germans conceived a liking for using vinegar or gasoline. But washing with gasoline repre-sented a danger. The evidence of this fact is the letter of Royal Techni-cal Commission of Craft in Berlin: “According to the data provided by the police, every time nearly 1.5 litre of gasoline is used, all this amount vaporizes without any remnant that may cause a flammable or even highly explosive situation because a mixture of air and the fume of gaso-line can explode. That is why, in our opinion, it is necessary to prohibit the use of gasoline for hair washing.” So it was. And in 1903 in Berlin,a woman entered a small chemist´s shop in Passauer Strasse belonging to Hans Shwarzkopf. The frau told about small packets with some means for hair washing that she managed to buy not long ago in England. “It is so convenient” the woman admired, “it would be wonderful if you had anything the same and I could constantly use it!”
So not even knowing her own role in the birth of the explosion of shampoo use around the world, the frau left the chemist´s shop and the life of 25 year-old Hans stopped being dull: it was his fortune that dropped into the chem-women shining under the parching sun. The Hindi ‘champo,´ accord-their hair with special herb mixtures from ist´s shop and he made a reality of the idea of shampoo. Since Shwarzkopf was a chemist, the experience of working with cosmetics helped him to create his first shampoo-powder quite easily. However Shwarzkopf was not a straight man to sell the powder in nameless packets: one could notice on the packets with dry shampoo the trademark that is well-known to ev-eryone today, the silhouette of black-colored head (Shwarzkopf is literally translated from German as ‘black head´). Now it was not just a shampoo, it was a vintage product for which Hans had taken out a patent at once. All this happened in the same year 1903.
Hans left the pharmaceutical business to give his full attention to the production and sale of the shampoo. Even more so, he had something to add: the extract from violets which gave the powder a pleasant odor and excellent restorative effect. Later he changed the mixture many times diluting the main formula with the extracts from medicinal herbs and active components that made hair look healthy and shining. So in the formula of the shampoo there appeared pantenol deeply soaking into the structure of hair and also almond oil that makes hair silky. In 1904 in the city of Berlin the first manufacturing plant of the Shwarzkopf company was put into mass production of hair care. The assortment of shampoos very soon contained eight kinds: yolk, chamomile, oxygen, herbaceous, lanolin, birchen, sulphurous and even with extractions from pitch. And in one year — in 1905 — Shwarzkopf company haircare reached all the way to Russia! But at the age of 47, Hans died of cardiac insufficiency and so disappeared the first King of the shampoo empire.
After Hans Shwarzkopf´s death, his wife Marta became the head of Shwarzkopf company. She managed to keep the business and even to expand production. And then the senior son of Hans and Marta — Hans Shwarzkop junior continued his parents´ business. As the shop changed hands the younger Schwarzkopf noticed that powdered shampoo was impractical in the shower and that a liquid variation foamed up better, was easier to measure and manufacture. So the bottle of shampoo was born by the end of 1927. The Schwarzkopf company had issued two kinds of liquid shampoo: Chamomile for fair hair and Tar for the dark. Those were the first liquid shampoos and no doubt, the success of the shampoo was begun and the Schwarzkopf company is still a leader in haircare products to this day.
Generally speaking, in the successful thirty years from 1900–1930 Eu-ropeans really started thinking about their appearance. Development and marketing of cosmetics was expanding rapidly. In 1931 competi-tors of Shwarzkopf, a group of companies called Hamburg Beiersdorf Group, managed to elaborate their own chemical formula of sham-poo. In 1934 the French factory L´Oreal also presented a mixture for hair washing that did not contain soap called Dop. Six years before that, Eugene Shueller, the creator of L´Oreal Company, had bought Monsavon company, a small enterprise that issued toilet soap. This acquisition let L´Oreal, which specialized in production of hair dye, enter the shampoo market. But the shampoo Dop did not have great success on the market. After great investigation, Shueller discovered that 30% of the French people never washed hair at that time pe-riod. The outstanding French marketer found a solution: he addressed advertising about hair washing and shampoo to children and to their parents. Then he had to wait a whole generation for the changes to take effect because it wasn´t until the next generation that the French washed their hair exclusively with shampoo. At that time, even though more and more people became consumers of cosmetic means, there was still one more reason why shampoos were not distributed every-where: shampoo remained to be an expensive pleasure.
American Mass-Marketing and the ‘Breck Girl´
Americans were the first to eliminate the price barrier through the research and development of one man: John Breck. He began investigations in the years of The Great Depression in his clinic in Massachusetts. And in the early 1930´s, after 10 years of work, his first shampoo formula was ready. And the difference? Many people could afford this new shampoo and, for the first time consumers were offered a choice of shampoos for different needs: one formula for dry and a different one for oily hair. Sale of the new shampoo went on well but the effect that Breck expected did not happen. It seemed America faced the same problem as Europe: majority was not used to spending money (even not so much money) on special means for hair washing. For a real success to spread out everywhere a new culture was required and a new cult of cleanness. So it was the Breck Advertising that was also a breakthrough. This was the first advertising using high-quality illustrations. The picture of the first ever ‘Breck Girl´ was created and drawn by Charles Gates Sheldon in 1937 it really was worth a thousand words! The ads featured ordinary women instead of models and for half a century, Breck´s beautifully illustrated ads presented the ideal American woman. And Americans bought it up!
The Shampoo Bubble
During the post-war period people on both sides of Atlantic dreamed of a happy and well-groomed society and cosmetic companies possessed a limitless expanse for action. By the end of the 1950´s, the ‘Breck Girl´ had evolved to using professional models for illustrations by Ralf Williams since the advertising was most often featured on the back cover of the most famous magazines like Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Home Com-panion, Seventeen, Vogue, Glamour, and Harpers Bazaar. Kim Basinger, Brooke Shields, Cheryl Tiegs, Jaclyn Smith and Cybill Shepherd were the new ‘Breck Girls.´ After the death of Williams, the advertising tradition was stopped and the ‘Breck Girls´ could be found only in the museums of advertising history and pop-culture.
Now, with the advent of technology and the discovery of man-made chemicals, these have taken over where botanicals, oils and spic-es had their origins. And from the 1950´s to the current age new chemicals for coloring, lathering, preserving and cleaning in addition to chemical medications to solve scalp issues have been added to shampoos as exemplified in the new slogan about oil-control sham-poos, declaring “Breck shampoo can even clean up oil stains in your garage.” With the latest discovery in the 21st century that an overload of man-made chemicals can harm the earth and harm ourselves, the shampoo bubble seems to have come full-circle with the newest en-trants into the market featuring chemical-free shampoos loaded with natural ingredients, herbs, spices and oils!