When you wash your hair, what do you use? Shampoo, of course. Many of the shampoo brands available today are made by companies based abroad, but did you know that the word ‘shampoo’ was derived from Hindi?

Surprised? Yes, ‘shampoo’ derives from the Hindi word ‘champo’, which means to ‘knead, press or soothe’. English traders who came to India in the 16th century took up the prevalent local habit of receiving full body massages or ‘champo’ as part of their bath routines. Washing the hair came only at the end of the routine, and was only a small part of the whole process.

The word ‘shampoo’ is said to have travelled to Britain through Englishmen who returned home after spending some time in India, and is said to have been used in print in 1762. In 1814, a Bengali doctor and entrepreneur named Sake Dean Mahomed, and his wife Jane Daly, opened the first commercial ‘shampooing’ massage bath in Brighton, England. He described it in a local paper as ‘The Indian Medicated Vapour Bath’.

At this time, the ‘shampoo’ was made by boiling soap shavings in water, with herbs added to it, to give the hair shine and fragrance. Shampoo was made available as a commercial product from the early 1900s, and liquid shampoo was invented by a German named Hans Schwarzkopf (whose name is a famous hair products brand) in 1927.

With time, the word ‘shampoo’ lost its original meaning of an overall body massage and bath, and came to be associated only with washing one’s hair

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