Beyond its biological function of keeping the head protected and warm, hair’s true value lies in its ability to make a highly personal, visual statement about oneself. Throughout history, hair color has deﬁned cultures, social status, professions, age and self-image; so when humans discovered ways to change hair color, it signiﬁed a major step in self-expression. This self expression, however, has always been inﬂuenced by innovative science.
The ﬁrst major breakthrough in hair coloring history came in 1863, when chemist Dr. August Wilhelm von Hofmann reported the dye properties of para-phenylenediamine (PPD). His discovery led to the birth of the synthetic hair dye industry, and PPD still dominates the ﬁeld today. Hofmann was also known for his studies of organic derivatives of ammonia and for discovering the ﬁrst unsaturated alcohol and several organic dyes.
On the heels of Hofmann’s discovery, in 1867 London chemist E.H. Thiellay and Parisian hairdresser Leon Hugot demonstrated the advantages of hydrogen peroxide as a better chemical way to lighten hair than alkaline solutions. Their discovery soon became widely recognized, and oxidizing products remain the basis of bleaching preparations today. After the mid 1920s, oxidation dyes were greatly improved and the fashionable use of hair coloring boomed.
The introduction of salon and then home hair dyes during the same period brought about a revolutionary change worldwide and an explosion of hair color options. Clairol’s founder, Lawrence M. Gelb, introduced hair color to salons more than 70 years ago when he discovered a European preparation and brought it to the U.S. When Clairol launched its ﬁrst salon colors in 1931, millions of women began using them. Instant Clairol Oil Shampoo Tint soon changed the look of Americans.
In 1950, Clairol introduced Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath, the ﬁrst real breakthrough that lightened hair without the harshness and complicated handling of bleach. For the ﬁrst time, hair could be lightened, tinted, conditioned and shampooed in only one step instead of ﬁve, in only 20 minutes. Within six months of this watershed discovery, hair coloring mania soared. The number of women going to the salon for permanent hair coloring increased of women going to the salon for permanent hair coloring increasedby more than 500 percent.
Soon after, with the abundance of safe, inexpensive, easy-to-use products, home hair dying quickly grew in popularity.
Fast forward to 2007, where the next hair color breakthrough is currently unfolding, the ﬁrst in over 50 years. Advances in understanding the molecular structure of hair have allowed scientists to develop improved technologies that minimize the amount of damage in the coloring process, and even create specialized products that restore health and brilliance to colored hair. h e new chemistry of hair color is here, making hair color easier, quicker, and more eﬀective than ever.