Did You Know Who Invented Shampoo? Let’s Talk About Its History


When you are about to take a shower and wash your hair to get a good lather up and clean yourself, do you ever ponder the origins of shampoo? You probably do not, as your primary focus is to get yourself clean and to come out of the shower feeling fresh. Here is another question. Have you wondered how people cleaned their hair centuries ago? There is no way that people walk around with dirty hair and being dirty in general. There is indeed a lot more knowledge about the importance of staying clean now than there was centuries ago. That goes for a century ago too. However, there is a long history of shampoo as people have been cleaning their hair for thousands of years by using herbs and flowers. The term “shampoo” would not have become a thing if not for India in 1762.

What Does India In 1792 Have To Do With Shampoo?

India has used Ayurvedic herbs and extracts for thousands of years to treat ailments, heal wounds, and clean, including shampooing. So, therefore, you can say that they invented the earliest effective shampoo that consisted of boiling soapberries and adding Indian gooseberry. Indians used that combination to clean their hair, and the term “shampoo” comes from the Hindi word “champo,” and that comes from the Sanskrit word, “shapayati” and the meaning of that is “to soothe.” So that is where the term shampoo comes from today. But, as you know, the English language comes from various terms in other languages, and several Sanskrit words coin themselves with the English language, such as shampoo.

However, shampoo evolved further in 1814 in England. Thanks to the Indian influence at that time, it happened.

Evolution Of Shampoo Happened Further In 19th Century England

An Indian entrepreneur and Bengali traveler named Sake Dean Mahomed was in England in the 19th century and married a woman from Ireland. Mahomed was the one who introduced the shampooing practice in England and decided to start a business with his wife. As a result, he established the first shampoo masseur bath in Brighton, England. He described it as the cure for all diseases and ailments in a British newspaper. Therefore, he made it clear that having a good wash with shampoo after a massage was therapeutic and comforting. Thus, he had made an impact in England.

That is because, in England, hairstylists began making shampoo to clean their clients’ hair before styling it. The way they did this was to take shavings of soap and boil them in hot water. Then they added fresh-smelling herbs and mixed them with washing the hair for the clients. That started a trend in the early 20th century where people were washing their hair with bars of soap. But, unfortunately, it did not take long for those to find a problem with that. That’s because the surfactants in the soap caused theirhair to become dull and unhealthy looking. So, naturally, that was concerning to people. That all changed after 1903, but not in England. It happened in Germany instead.

Shampoo Evolved Further In 1903, Germany

In 1903, that is when the evolution of shampoo changed for good. That marked a time when people no longer had to create their shampoo. That is because a chemist who lived in Berlin named Hans Schwarzkopf invented what was known as “schaumpon,” a powder with a fragrance of violets old in German drugstores. Then 25 years later, Schwarzkopf introduced the first liquid shampoo bottle in Europe. Therefore, that is when shampoo took off, and people began to use it not only in Europe, but the movement grew worldwide. Marketing campaigns for shampoo took off several years later, and celebrities provided education on the importance of keeping your hair and body clean.

Awareness About Keeping Yourself Clean Began In The 1970s

The awareness about shampoo and how it serves you took off in the 1970s when celebrities such as the late Farrah Faucet and Christie Brinkley made it clear that it was unhealthy not to wash your hair and shampoo it several times a week. After that came out, cosmetic companies loved it, and shampoo sales began to boom. It did not take long for the beauty industry to thrive, and it became a multi-million dollar industry. It thrived even more in the 1980s and 1990s because of various new shampoo brands catering to different hair types emerging. The beauty industry expanded further as a result.

What About Conditioners?

It was a known fact that shampoo cleaned hair by stripping away excess sebum attached to grime, dirt, and debris in the hair. However, what shampoo did not do was help smoothen the hair and cause it to dry out if used too often. That is why we also have a conditioner. For centuries, people used oil as a conditioner after washing their hair. However, it was too greasy and only caused the hair to become dirty.

Modern hair conditioners did not emerge until the French perfumer Édouard Pinaud invented them and called them Brilliante at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris that year. The purpose of the product was to soften men’s hair which included mustaches and beards without the greasy after effect. Today, conditioner consists of fatty alcohols, silicone, and other components to help make hair soft.


You don’t think too much about the history of shampoo and its invention. However, it is fascinating to learn about its evolution after learning about it. It is hard to believe that there was only the option of boiling some herbs and flowers to clean hair to different types of shampoo catering to all hair types. And it is only making you wonder what the future of shampoo looks like because there is still a lot of room for further evolution. You also see that the conditioner that goes with shampoo has evolved a lot over time. So what will shampoo and conditioner look like together in years to come? We will find out over time.