Sake Dean Mahomed – The OG Trendsetter of Natural and Organic Shampoo


As soon as I hear the word shampoo, I remember the smell of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. Ah, those were the days. As I started growing up, I started using different types of shampoos, some costly and some cheap, some with blue colour and some with black colour. Recently, I have started experimenting, I apply my shampoo with some aloe vera gel in it, and the results have been good so far. With the hair damage that I have experienced, I want to switch to natural and organic shampoo. Because healthy hair product equals happy hair equals happy me! 

Natural and Organic Shampoo- ye bhi theek hai

Meanwhile, my mother when she sees me with coffee or aloe vera in my hair – Ye bhi theek hai!

The History of Shampoo

Today, you cannot imagine your life without shampoo, it makes all the difference in your appearance, and your mood too. In the modern times, we have many types of shampoo, all to help with our hair care. There is also a rising popularity that is seen in the use of natural and organic shampoo. But our bottle of shampoo has travelled across and time and seas to become what it is today. To know the history of shampoo, you’ll go way back into the history and not in a specific place, because there was a contribution from many parts of the world to create this wonder. 

Going back to the ancient civilizations,

people in Egypt and India used a mixture of animal fats and ash to clean their hair, while people in Mesopotamia used soap wort plants to create a lather for washing. In ancient India, herbs and natural ingredients were used to cleanse the hair. A mixture called “shikakai” made from the fruit pods of the Acacia concinna tree was commonly used as a natural and organic shampoo. It had cleansing properties and helped maintain the health of the hair. During the Middle Ages in Europe, hair washing was less common, and people often used fragrant oils and powders to mask odours. However, some societies still practised hair cleansing using various herbal concoctions.

As the colonial era came, a lot about shampooing was changed. In this era, the Western travellers to India encountered traditional hair-washing practices and brought the knowledge back to Europe. While being in India, they saw that Indians used a form of scalp massage called “Champo” or “Champi” to do hair care. It was much later that this term got evolved into the word “Shampoo” that we all know today. 

Natural and Organic Shampoo- ye bhi theek hai

One of the influencers of this shampooing technique to the Western world was a Bengali traveller and a surgeon, Sake Dean Mahomed. While residing in England, Sake Dean Mahomed offered a unique therapeutic head massage and hair treatment service that he referred to as “shampooing.” He adapted this technique from traditional Indian practices and incorporated it into his services at establishments like Mahomed’s Baths. Mahomed’s shampooing technique gained popularity among British society. His clients appreciated the benefits of scalp cleansing, massaging, and oiling, which not only improved hair health but also provided a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Through his hard work and experience, he could bring natural and organic shampoo into the Western world. 

The Life of Sake Dean Mahomed

Sake Dean Mahomed was born in 1759 in Patna, Bihar, India. He belonged to a Bengali Muslim family and was of mixed heritage, with his father being of Persian descent and his mother of Indian descent. Mahomed was a part of the British East India Company and served in the military for them. Once he left the military post, he became an army officer for the British army. While being in the army, he met an Irish woman named Jane Daly, who he married later on. 

In the year 1810, Mahomed opened the Hindoostane Coffee House in London, making it one of the first Indian restaurants in Britain. The establishment served Indian cuisine and introduced British society to the flavours and customs of Indian dining. It gained popularity and became a meeting place for socialites and intellectuals. Besides the restaurant, Mahomed also opened a spa in Brighton, England called Mahomed’s Baths offering treatments similar to those provided at Indian bathhouses. 

This spa venture was the beginning of something that made his name popular all over England and the world. 

Year 1822, King George IV appointed Mahomed as his personal shampoo surgeon as he was impressed by the work he had put into the spa venture. In the same year, Sake Dean Mahomed also wrote and published a book titled, Shampooing; or Benefits resulting from the use of the Indian medicated vapour bath. In this book only, he mentioned the many benefits of natural and organic shampoo. 

Mahomed’s Impact on the World of Hair Care

Sake Dean Mahomed’s impact was nothing less than significant when it came to hair care. You can say that he was one of the OGs to use natural and organic shampoo for hair cleansing. Mahomed popularized Indian-style shampooing techniques, which involved cleansing, massaging, and oiling the scalp. This introduced a new approach to hair care that focused not only on cleaning the hair but also on promoting scalp health and relaxation.  Mahomed’s emphasis on scalp cleansing and maintenance brought attention to the importance of maintaining a clean and healthy scalp for overall hair health. This led to increased awareness among Western societies about the significance of hair and scalp hygiene. 

Mahomed’s establishment of the Mahomed’s Baths offered unique hair treatment services that combined the benefits of massage, cleansing, and oiling. These services catered to the growing demand for specialized hair care and helped establish a new standard for hair treatment in Western culture.  The concept of shampooing, as introduced by Mahomed, laid the foundation for the development of modern shampoos and hair care products. 

The book that Mahomed published in the year 1822, was also beneficial for the public of London at that time. In the book, he stressed upon the need of bathing properly, he also described some case studies in the book. Through these case studies, he could talk about the problems that people faced when it came to hair care. Looking at these issues, he intended to give out tips and solutions that would help people to take proper care of their hair. 

Natural and Organic Shampoo- ye bhi theek hai

The Rise of Sachet Shampoos

Sachet shampoos are single use shampoos that come in very small, individual sized packets. The size of these sachets varies depending on the company that is manufacturing these shampoos. These days even the natural and organic shampoo have sachet packets for them. These single-use packets are sealed to ensure the shampoo remains fresh and prevent leakage or spillage. 

Sachet shampoos gained popularity in India due to several factors, including affordability, convenience, and effective marketing strategies. In the early 2000s, the Indian market witnessed the introduction of sachet packaging for various consumer products, including shampoos.  The affordability of sachet shampoos made them accessible to a larger segment of the population, including those with lower incomes who couldn’t afford larger bottles or expensive brands. 

Shampoo manufacturers recognized the potential of sachet packaging to tap into untapped market segments. They strategically priced sachet shampoos at lower price points, making them an attractive alternative to larger bottles. This pricing strategy helped sachet shampoos gain significant market penetration and reach consumers who were previously not regular users of shampoos.

Such sachets also offer convenience and portability, making them suitable for travel, shorter trips, or when someone wants to try a new shampoo variant. The small size and disposable nature of sachets made them easy to carry and use, appealing to consumers who preferred compact and on-the-go products. 

Natural and Organic Shampoo- ye bhi theek hai

The Dangers of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)  is a surfactant and a type of detergent, that helps create lather and remove dirt, oil, and debris from the hair and scalp. SLS is commonly used in the manufacturing of many shampoos and other personal care products. Although nowadays, there are many brands and companies that are making natural and organic shampoo without using SLS in them. 

While SLS is widely used and considered safe for most people, it can have some potential harmful effects, particularly for individuals with specific sensitivities. These may include: 

  • Skin Irritation – SLS can cause skin irritation, especially for individuals with sensitive skin. It can lead to dryness, redness, itching, and flakiness. People prone to skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis may be more susceptible to these irritations.
  • Eye Irritation – SLS can cause eye irritation and stinging if it comes into contact with the eyes. It is recommended to avoid direct contact with the eyes while using SLS-containing shampoos.

That’s why you should not ignore it when you read, “wash immediately with cold water if there is an eye contact” 

  • Environmental Degradation – SLS is not readily biodegradable and can have negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems when it enters water bodies through wastewater.
  • Removing Natural Oils – SLS is a strong detergent that can strip away the natural oils from the hair and scalp. While this can be beneficial for those with oily hair, it may lead to dryness and increased sebum production in individuals with naturally dry hair or sensitive scalps.

Besides these damaging effects, SLS is also linked with allergic reactions. Such reactions may be rare, but symptoms of them can include, rash, hives, swelling, or respiratory difficulties. 

The Revival of Natural and Organic Shampoo

With the increase in hair problems, people have started to looks for healthier alternatives for shampooing their hair. People are becoming more concerned about the harm that synthetic chemicals do to their hair. Alternative and plant based shampoos are free from ingredients like parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, synthetic fragrances, and artificial colouring. 

The plant based ingredients may wary depending on the country/area. These ingredients are not regulated universally, and their definitions may vary depending on the country or certifying body. 

Natural and organic shampoo aim to minimize the use of synthetic additives and preservatives. Instead, they may use natural preservatives, such as essential oils, or rely on the self-preserving properties of certain ingredients. Some natural shampoos may also include natural fragrance options derived from essential oils or plant-based scents. These types of shampoos often prioritize sustainability and eco-friendliness in their production and packaging. This can involve using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, sourcing ingredients from sustainable suppliers, utilizing recyclable or biodegradable packaging materials, and participating in initiatives such as cruelty-free testing or fair trade practices.

Natural and Organic Shampoo- ye bhi theek hai

Going Back To The Past

People in the Indian society have always used natural and organic shampoo. As new inventions happened, newer products came to the markets in the 2000s. With that, the trend of using plant-based ingredients in shampoos slowly faded away. More and more companies started using different chemicals to rid of the hair problems that people were facing. Decades later, however, the shift is going back to the past. Nowadays, businesses and companies have started using these ingredients to make natural and organic shampoo. Moreover, they also make sure that these shampoo products are green and sustainable so that they cause no harm to the environment. 

Ab Nani aur Dadi ke nuskhe baalon ki raksha karege.