The Origins of Shampoo

You know, every time I’ve been in my bathroom over the past few weeks the same question pops into my head “I wonder when shampoo was invented?”. This was always followed by “I wonder what did they use before?”

So I decided to find out.

Let’s start by saying that I’m talking about the liquid shampoo that comes in a bottle. I need to state that because when I was looking around, I found many earlier references to shampoo, but that was for “soap” shampoo and even ‘”powder” shampoo.

So yes, prior to liquid shampoo being available, soap was what was mostly used. My 96 year old grandma even remembers using soap for shampoo as a young child.

Anyway so I headed to Wikipedia for some info  …

So firstly the word, “shampoo” ….

The word shampoo entered the English language from India during the colonial era. It dates to 1762, and is derived from Hindi chāmpo itself derived from the Sanskrit root chapayati (which means to press, knead, soothe).

But what about liquid shampoo? For that we fast forward 165 years …

In 1927, liquid shampoo was invented by German inventor Hans Schwarzkopf in Berlin, whose name created a shampoo brand sold in Europe. Originally, soap and shampoo were very similar products; both containing the same naturally derived surfactants, a type of detergent.

So we all know the brand Schwartzkopf, right? Well it seems Hans Schwartzkopf wasn’t ‘just’ a name in the hair care industry, he was the actual inventor of liquid shampoo, and in doing so revolutionised hair care.

The Schwartzkopf website even has a timeline history which is a fascinating read, and you can check that out here.

So to Mr Schwartzkopf and those that followed and continued the innovation, I thank you for creating liquid shampoo. While I’m too young to have used soap as shampoo or even “powder shampoo”, to me shampoo is simply one of life’s little conveniences, and rightly or wrongly it’s one of those things we take for granted.

So that’s my little history lesson for today. I know I learnt something while checking this out, and maybe you did to.