In 1931, Lawrence Gelb, an entrepreneurial chemist, and his wife Joan discovered a hair-coloring preparation while traveling in France; thereafter they founded the Clairol company and imported the product to U.S. salons.
After two decades of selling its signature hair tint to beauty salons, Clairol became a household name in the 1950s with the launch of the first one-step shampoo-in hair color formula- Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath.
In 1959, pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb purchased Clairol from the Gelbs.
Clairol captured the feminist sensibilities of the era (when proper women did not openly admit the practice of coloring their hair) with its now-famous advertising catchphrase: "Does she...or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure."
Years later, throughout the early 2000s, buzz was reignited for the ad campaign of Clairol's Herbal Essences brand, which featured women in the shower enjoying a "totally organic experience."
Company News/Product Launches:
Today a division of Proctor & Gamble, Clairol publishes a free beauty magazine called Color Source.
At the beginning of 2008, Clairol launched the Perfect 10 hair-coloring kit by Nice 'n Easy, which takes ten minutes to process and has a low pH, resulting in less stripping of the hair's lipid coating.
The ingredients in Clairol's products are not listed online and can only be located with a great deal of digging. In promoting its products, Clairol's emphasis is always on results, not on formulas.
Considering that its ingredients tend to be elusive, there are hints that Clairol's veil of secrecy is no accident. Most of its products include components defined as moderate hazard or worse. In fact, Clairol's Nice 'n Easy permanent haircolor is listed on the Cancer Prevention Coalition's round-up of the "Dirty Dozen" consumer products due to its high toxicity levels (from quaternium-15, diethanolamine, phenylene-diamines, propylene glycol, fragrance). According to the EWG Cosmetic Safety Database, 544 of Clairol's products contain p-phenylenediamine, 104 contain DMDM hydantoin, 467 contain P-aminophenol, 513 contain resorcinol, and 832 contain artificial fragrance. This data leads us to believe that Clairol's hair products put the health of its customers and the environment at risk.