As conscious modern consumers, we deeply scrutinise the principles behind the clothes, accessories and art we purchase, pore over the repute of the formulas we apply to our skin, and take an ever-increasing interest in where the food on our plates comes from. But our haircare? For some reason, this story remains untold.
Our homepage hints at haircare’s origins, conveying that our moniker, Chāmpo, is the Sanskrit term for ‘shampoo’ – describing the ancient Indian practice of ‘cleansing, soothing and massaging the head and hair’.
So India is the home of haircare. To be honest, we didn’t know either.
This journey of discovery started when Chāmpo’s founder started to experience a period of hair thinning (a concern secretly shared with a number of close friends, it turned out). She reached out to her grandmother, a septuagenarian of Indian origin still blessed with long, thick, lustrous and dark hair, who disclosed the small assortment of oils she had used since childhood to preserve such exceptional condition. Though somewhat impractical for daily use in modern life, the results were too impressive to overlook.
Research commenced. The oils stemmed from Ayurvedic practices recorded as far back as the 7th century, and the chāmpo story emerged. It was hugely compelling.
(For those of you seeking a brief haircare history lesson, here it is…)
Amla Fruit (one of the noteworthy actives in in our Vata range – read more about it here) was boiled with ‘soapberries’ (a natural surfactant) from the Indian ‘Sapindus’ tree; the strained extract of which was found to be a highly effective shampoo, leaving hair soft, shiny and manageable. Fast forward over a millennia and colonial traders in India were introduced to this ‘chāmpo’ – which they brought back to Europe on their return.
Despite this Indian technique being widely shared, shampoo formulas similar to those we use today didn’t emerge until the 1920s. More surprisingly, it then took until the 1970s for a rinse off conditioner to be produced. These ‘modern’ formulas, however, bared no resemblance to the Ayurvedic principles that supposedly inspired their development (and, typically, weren’t very good). Where had the learnings gone? Time to redress the balance.
While importantly underpinning our formulas with the original Ayurvedic principles that had sparked our whole journey of discovery, it was vital they were very much brought up to date. Our requirement for remarkable performance, texture and experience was a given... but in addition, our ethos needed also to represent a modern proposition for today’s intelligent haircare consumer, showcasing how ancient wisdom – when executed in such an authentic and contemporary way – wholly meets their needs.
We chose the name Chāmpo to signify the esteem in which we rightfully hold the culture that inspired our beginnings... though, rest assured, our story has never been one of looking back. Quite the opposite. Along with the team at our formulations partner here in the UK, we embraced everything that modern trichology and formulation science had to offer, creating powerful blends that precisely treat and restore hair to its natural best. We also enlisted the help of a very progressive design team, with whom we created our branding, photography and bespoke haircare packaging (more on these here).
We didn’t start off as haircare experts. Our approach may therefore seem unconventional. Yet this, along with our unswerving attention to detail and contemporary British style, hopefully suggests that we’re here to deliver something a little richer, more insightful and out of the ordinary. Welcome to Chāmpo.