Paula Kent: Industry Pioneer & Icon
The co-founder of the Redken cosmetics brand who established the ‘Scientific Approach to Beauty’ has died. Paula Kent (Meehan) passed away peacefully in her Beverly Hills home at the age of 82.
Ms Kent’s scientific approach was based onher dedication to developing products that respect the natural pH of the hair and skin. She also pioneered the concept of teaching chemistry to hairdressers, enabling them to better serve their clients.
"Paula Kent was a truly inspiring woman who transformed the professional hair-care industry,” says Redken Worldwide General Manager Shane Wolf. "With her great passion and entrepreneurial spirit, she touched the hearts and minds of so many people. She will always be loved andremembered.”
Paula Kent co-founded Redken Laboratories in 1960. As a young actress in the late 1950s, when hair was highly bleached and teased, Paula was faced with the challenge of baby fine hair and sensitive skin. On set in Hollywood, she constantly experienced allergic reactions to the products used by hairdressers and makeup artists. She visited dermatologists and hairdressers to find a solution, but no one could explain to her the science behind the products.
In a moment of inspiration, Ms Kent realised she could help millions of other people who needed gentle, high-performance products. She also came to the conclusion that professional hairdressers needed to know the chemistry of hair and skin, product ingredients and their relationship to beautiful, healthy hair.
Using $3,000 she earned from appearing in a beer commercial, Paula Kent and her hairdresser, Jheri Redding - forming the name "REDKEN” - founded the brand with three products and an intensive education programme for hairdressers. The formulas were developed based on three principles:
Protein technology (since hair is composed primarily of protein) An acidic pH of 4.5-5.5, complementing the natural pH of the hair and skin Products recommended exclusively by licensed cosmetologists in professional salons.
Ms Kent also focused on educating stylists about the science behind the products and as a result, Redken developed a cult following. She made a bold move by hiring world-renowned, visionary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon to tour the country on behalf of Redken, solidifying Redken’s commitment to education and giving birth to Redken’s Artist Network and fashion heritage.
In 1993, Paula made an important decision to grow Redken even further by selling the company to beauty industry leader L’Oréal. Shortly after, a devastating earthquake shook Redken’s facility in California, but not the spirit of the team who packed up and moved to L’Oréal headquarters on 5th Avenue in NYC.
Through her pioneering, risk-taking spirit, Paula Kent revolutionized the professional hair-care industry for both stylists and clients.She leaves behind a legacy and commitment that continues to sustain the brand today.