Clairol…the beginning

A chemist, Lawrence M. Gelb, set off from New York to Europe with his family in 1931 in search of a new product to launch and market in the United States. The country was in the midst of the worst depression in history but Gelb was an energetic businessman and was determined to beat the depression.

During his trip, Gelb examined dozens of cosmetic and fragrance products, but his interest was not piqued until he came across  a European haircolor preparation named Clairol. Unlike other haircoloring products which coated the hair, Clairol actually penetrated the hair shaft, producing softer, more natural looking tones. Gelb’s wife, a woman with a strong fashion sense, saw the potential for this new haircoloring product in America. The Gelb’s brought Clairol back to the States and demonstrated it to a spellbound beauty salon audience.  Hairdresser’s were delighted, Clairol was endorsed, the Gleb’s were in business, and hairdresser’s enthusiastically added haircolor to their menu of services.

The new haircolor that would change the look of America was called, Instant Clairol Oil Shampoo Tint. Not only did Clairol’s sales soar, but salon haircolor service sales began to soar, as well.


In 1950 after seven years of research and development Clairol introduced Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath. It lightened, tinted, conditioned and shampooed the hair in one step and took only twenty minutes to complete.  Within six months of Miss Clairol’s introduction, the number of women going to the salon for haircolor increased by more than five hundred percent.

Clairol’s professional products and education are still a major part of the salon industry today after seventy one years.

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