History of Hairsprays
What is Hairspray?
Hairspray is a cosmetic product for styling hair. It is sprayed onto styled hair to protect against the style moving, humidity and also a movement or wind. Hairspray often contains additional conditioners and additives to protect, nourish and give shine to the hair.
Early hairsprays were first created in the 1920s in Europe. In America, hairsprays were developed in the 1940s, around the same time as the aerosol, and the first patents describing copolymers for hair styling.
In 1948 Chase products, an American aerosol manufacturer was recognised as the first company to package hairspray as we know it today because the beauty industry saw that the aerosol cans first introduced and used in World War II for insecticides, could be used as a dispenser for hairspray.
Hairspray quickly became the must-have product, and manufacturers benefitted with high volumes of sales. As popularity grew, mass production led to the evolving variety of hairsprays on the market, and some amazing hairstyles were created.
The manufacture of hairsprays thrived and in 1964 hairspray became the highest selling beauty product on the market.
Fashion always has an influence and toward the mid 1970s hairsprays sales declined as hairstyles became looser and hair straighter. The glam-rock 80s saw sales surge as big hairstyles once again became the trend and fashionable.
Sales of hairspray in current times is still strong with a Kantar report in 2020 reporting that in 2019 there were approx 20,000,000 hair styling and finishing product users in the UK with approx 1,000,000 buying Harmony – with a hairspray market share of around 6%.
Harmony haircare is famous for the hairspray advertising and seventies strapline “Is she or isn’t she?” and launched Leslie Ash’s acting career in the eighties. Leslie starred in the TV adverts around 1975.
Is she isn’t she?
The adverts differed in style for some 10 years but usually featured a girl with big hair walking down a road and two onlookers ( male and female) saying, “Is she or isn’t she?”.
Apparently, they were trying to guess whether she was wearing hairspray! Two guys, one pretty girl and some hairspray. Not acceptable by today’s standards but a catchy strapline that is remembered by many.
In 2004 Lornamead who owned the Harmony brand revived the slogan in an attempt to capture market share.
Old brands in new hands
Unilever owned Harmony up until 1998 when Lornamead via the Jatania family, acquired the Harmony haircare brand for £25m from Unilever as the first step in a drive to build one of the world’s biggest personal care businesses.