Health & Medical Medications & Drugs

What Is the Origin of Shampoo?


    • To understand the origin of shampoo, we need to first look at the etymology of the word. While there is some argument over the exact origin, most believe it can be traced to the Hindi origins of "champo." This refers to a head massage technique that used oils and was found in India in the 1700s.

      British colonialists took the word and the techniques back to Britain and in the mid-1800s, when shampoo was widely used as a hair treatment, but not specifically to clean the hair.


    • Prior to the mass production of what we now know as shampoo in the 1920s, most people used regular soap to clean their hair. The usage of oils or traditional shampooing was largely limited to the wealthy or to those who frequented spas.

      Using regular soap on hair may have helped it get clean, but it also left a sticky residue and a dull appearance. Natural oil buildup was also common, and difficult to get rid of.


    • Kasey Hebert, a British stylist, was one of the first to make shampoo. Originally created by mixing soap with herbs, fragrant flowers and water, this mixture made hair smell better, but it didn't remove the hair's natural oils, or sebum.

      This led to the formulation of surfactant, a substance that strips sebum from the hair. When added to shampoo, surfactants break down oils, allowing water to simply wash them away.

    Mass Production

    • In the 1920s, mass production of bottled shampoo began in Britain and the United States. As consumers noticed the difference in their hair, it became quite popular and most used it at least once a week.

      Today, many people prefer to shampoo their hair daily, although this can lead to overly dry hair from the stripping of its natural oils.


    • In the past decade, the no-poo movement, or those against shampoo, have gained many adherents. This movement claims that shampoo, particularly types with harsh surfactants, harms the hair and leaves it dull and lifeless.

      Shampoo's evolution has come full circle, and many have gone back to using regular soap on their hair, or even dry shampoo.

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