Many college students and teens fresh out of high school rushed to the altar to declare their eternal love after the end of World War ll. Marriage was a high priority in the 1950s, especially for women. Society placed a considerable amount of pressure on women to find Mr. Right before the end of their early 20s. Beauty was also a high priority for women during this decade, and many advertisers took advantage of this. Women with perfect hair, makeup and figures encouraged other women to use the right hair and makeup products to keep their man interested. Several companies launched new shampoos and conditioners during this beauty-conscious decade.
Unilever created Sunsilk in 1954 and began selling the product in the UK. The translucent liquid shampoo became Unilever’s leading product, distributed in 18 different countries by 1959. The front of the bottle promised it “keeps hair shining and manageable.” Sunsilk shampoo is currently available in 80 countries.
Lindane is a prescription shampoo used to treat lice and scabies that first made its appearance in the early 1950s. Doctors write approximately 1 million prescriptions for this medicated shampoo each year. The FDA encourages consumers to avoid using this harsh shampoo more than once, as serious side effects, including death, may occur.
Helene Curtis, a manufacturer of personal products, joined the business world in 1927. The company began offering Enden in the 1950s, a nonprescription shampoo used to treat dandruff. Television ads for the shampoo aired during several popular shows, including “What’s My Line?” Unilever bought Helene Curtis in 1996, and Enden is no longer available.
Procter & Gamble, a well-known health, beauty and household care company that is still around today, created Prell in 1947. Prell Shampoo, now known as Prell Shampoo Classic, was one of the most popular products on the market in the 1950s. The shampoo came in a green tube and advertisements boasted the pearl green water-based shampoo would leave your hair “radiantly clean.” Procter & Gamble sold Prell to Prestige Brands International in 1999, who then sold the product to Ultimark in 2009.
References and ResourcesShampoo Guides, Reviews, and Comparison: Your Guide to Prell Shampoo
PBS.org; The Pill; People & Events: Mrs. America: Women's Roles in the 1950s
FundingUniverse: Helene Curtis Industries, Inc.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Lindane Shampoo and Lindane Lotion- Questions and Answers
Encyclopedia of Chicago: Cosmetics and Hair Care Products
ResourcesVintage Ad Browser: Beauty and Hygiene Ads of the 1950s
Gender Roles 1950s