The company was founded in 1960 by hairdresser/chemist Jheri Redding and actress/model Paula Kent, thus the name, "Red-ken." Redken pioneered the "Scientific Approach to Beauty," and revolutionised the professional salon business by introducing the concept of protein reconditioning and developing new protein based products, which they patented.
In 1993, with sales at $160 million, Redken was sold to Cosmair, Inc. In 2007, Redken was named as one of the "Icons of the American Marketplace" together with 256 additional American brands (out of 800 nominations).
In 2014 Lea T became the face of Redken, thus making her the first openly transgender model to front a global cosmetics brand.