The London-based trichologist Phillip Kingsley died recently at the age of 86, and we felt we couldn’t let the moment pass without paying tribute.
Born in the East End in 1930, Kingsley was working in his uncle’s barber shop by the age of 14. He originally wanted to be a doctor, but didn’t have the time or money, so he saved to take a correspondence course with the Institute of Trichologists, specialising in scalp dermatology and hair cycles, and opened a tiny salon in Mayfair.
The codifier of haircare products
He’d picked a good time to be a hair specialist: by the post-ration late fifties, women were starting to spend a good portion of their wages on getting their hair done, a raft of new products were coming onto the market, and men were starting to go without hats and growing their hair out.
More importantly, he realised early on that there was no one-stop solution to hair-related issues: he has been credited with popularising and codifying the different types of hair that we still use today, which is why there’s a whole raft of products in our shops today.
He was one of the first people to draw a link between diet and hair condition. And he might just be best remembered for coining the term ‘Bad Hair Day’, which encapsulates the psychological effects the condition of our hair can have on us.
The elastic man
He finally set up shop in New York in the 1970s, racking up an A-List client base, including Jean Shrimpton, Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Victoria Beckham – but his most famous product, Elasticizer, was developed especially for Katherine Hepburn, to prevent her ridiculously overstyled-and-overcoloured hair from breaking while she filmed Robin and Marion in 1975.
Involved in his company to the day he died, Kingsley deserves to be remembered as one of the true pioneers of the haircare industry.