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Ohio Stylist & Salon Magazine
April 2002

By Kathie Rothkop

The mystique of the blonde has been eternal with both men and women since the beginning of time. Poems and myths have been written about the golden haired woman.  

  Women have agonized to achieve blonde tresses -- with bad results. Highly alkaline soaps were applied to the hair and then the women would sit in the sun for hours to bleach the hair. The consequence of this was most often dry, bad colored hair. An easier way was to powder the hair with pollen and crushed yellow flower petals. Costly wigs were made from imported blonde hair from the Netherlands.

It wasn't until 1907, that a French chemist named Eugene Schueller began manufacturing hair dye in his Paris flat. His main chemical ingredient was called paraphenylene-diamine. He called his company L'Oreal and, as we all know, it became one of the leading beauty companies in the world.

When it was first invented, the blonding process was quite dangerous; the chemicals caused headaches and scalp burns. It was not unusual for the hair to break off during the process. A common formulation for bleach was peroxide with ammonia, which was added to ivory soap flakes and mixed into a paste. This formula was used into the 1930's.

Marilyn Monroe
The most famous blonde of all time?

Jean Harlow
The original "blonde bombshell".
Hollywood soon realized how great a blonde looked in their black-and-white films and conceived Mae West. Jean Harlow, known as the "original blonde bombshell", soon followed. When Harlow died at age 26, a rumor circulated that she died because of her hair dye. The truth is she had kidney problems.

In 1931, an American chemist, Lawrence Gelb, introduced the first oil shampoo tint. After eight more years of research, he established the first home purchased hair dye. He named his currently famous company Clairol.


Up until World War II, a woman who dyed her hair was considered "fast". Hollywood depicted the blonde as being dumb, naughty, and immoral. Because Clairol wanted more women to purchase their home hair dyes and also frequent the beauty salon, they came up with some of the most famous advertising slogans of all time:

"Does She or Doesn't She?" "Only Her Hairdresser Knows for Sure!" "Do Blondes Have More Fun?" and "If I've One Life...Let Me Live it as a Blonde!"

Naming famous blondes could go on forever and Marilyn Monroe would likely be at the top of the list. Blondes sell more merchandise in television commercials and are utilized more in commercial print advertising. When given the choice, 45 percent of men and women prefer to be colored blonde.

Is it true blondes have more fun? The ageless brunette Cher is now seen sporting a blonde wig. Shall we venture to ask?

Bridal Styles Made Simple

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