"Lather, rinse, repeat" may be more fable than fact, but flawed instructions aside, shampoo is and has been one of the non-negotiables in our beauty routines since before we even had beauty routines. So, we thought it deserved a closer look. Here, we divulge eight crazy but true facts about shampoo!
Before what we recognize today as shampoo, there was soap, good ole bar soap. One of the leading products in the 1880s was an all-purpose bar called Slidall’s Soap. With it, you could clean everything from your hair and body to your toilet and teeth.
The word shampoo comes from the Hindi word champo, which means press or massage. After experiencing the Indian practice of champu, Bengali entrepreneur Sake Dean Mahomed opened a bathhouse in the English countryside, where he offered medicated vapor massages to mimic champu. He called those massages “shampooing.” Eighty years later, the term shampooing began to refer to sudsy scalp massages only. At that time, the word shampooing was the noun and the verb for the practice.
German inventor Hans Schwarzkopf invented a water-soluble powder shampoo in 1927. Within a year, the easy-to-use product was in every drugstore in Berlin; European expansion followed shortly thereafter. In 1927, he invented an even more popular product: the first liquid shampoo.
In Japan, robots can shampoo your hair. The shampoo robot scans your head, determines how best to apply pressure, and then gets to work with its eight “fingers.” The tool was invented to alleviate work for healthcare employees.
The very first shampoo dates back to the 1500s. In India, sapindus, aka soapberries or soapnuts, were boiled with dried Indian gooseberry and other herbs. The extract created a lather and resulted in soft, shiny hair.
Early shampoos in Indonesia were made from the ashes of husk and straw. When mixed with water, they formed a lather. However, this concoction left strands very dry. So, they applied coconut oil afterward to moisturize their parched strands.
How to Shampoo
Commercially made shampoo wasn’t available until the turn of the 20th century. And considering the practice of shampooing hair was an occasional treat experienced at the hair salon up until this point, people didn’t know exactly how to do it. So, in May of 1908, The New York Times ran its first article on how to shampoo your hair. Hair specialists quoted in the article recommended washing your hair as often as every two weeks, though four to six weeks was also an acceptable time frame.
Astronauts wash their hair with a no-rinse shampoo, the kind originally developed for hospital patients who shouldn’t take showers.