Humans have used products of some form or other to smooth and soften the hair since time began. Our ancestors used whatever was available locally, making this truly natural and sustainable haircare. Think coconut oil, shea butter, bear oil (yep), aloe, and even lanolin collected as a by-product of boiling sheep wool. Originally these products would have been prepared at home – with one recipe for the Middle Ages even calling for a lizard to be boiled in olive oil to create the perfect conditioner.
While DIY conditioning treatments made from fatty, moisturising, natural ingredients continue to be used across the globe, the first commercial hair conditioners went on sale in the 1950s, developed using the same technology from another innovation of the era: fabric softener.
In 1986, the hairdressers’ nemesis – two-in-one shampoo and conditioner – was debuted, with the first one named, fetchingly, Pert Plus.