Thursday, April 6, 2017

Oh dear! What shall I do with my hair?

A good question, one women have asked through the centuries. But hair care today is nothing like it was back in the late 1800's! The pixie cut, for example, would have been deeply frowned upon. In an excerpt from a hair care book of 1896 says: The glory of long and beautiful hair is and ever has been universally understood and appreciated by the world at large, and its charms are acknowledged to be among the most alluring of the many belonging to womankind. This rich inheritance from Nature is by right woman's alone; and when she wears this crown of shining strands her comrades and all those with whom she comes in contact are her subjects in the matter of admiration.
Hmmm, I recently cut all my hair off! I now sport a pixie cut! Good thing I'm not living in the 1800's! For one, I'd miss my favorite shampoo! Back then hair care was much different.
For example, on average, we lose as many as 100 hairs a day. This is normal. Back in the day, if one's hair was falling out past the normal amount, one would wash the head with Castile or sulphur soap for a couple of weeks. Then the real fun would begin. Something more stimulating would be prescribed. Like this recipe: Castor oil - 1 ounce mixed with Liquor of ammonia (strong) - 1 ounce, Best French brandy- 1ounce and 6 ounces of Rose-water and used every other day.

There were all sorts of interesting mixtures to remedy scalp and hair problems. For example, to preserved the hair (keep it from falling out) and accelerate its growth, one would mix up a half pint of old whiskey with rock salt, toss in a tablespoon of Glycerine and a teaspoonful of Flour of Sulphur. I don't know about you, but ewww! How'd you like to have that on your head?
Another mixture to promote hair growth, this one also including spirits, was 4 ounces of Bay rum, 2 drachma of Tincture of cantharides, a half an ounce of rosemary, and 20 drops of oil of nutmeg. Gads, we'd all smell like a hot toddy!
For dandruff, liquor wasn't necessary. A couple ounces of lard mixed with some diluted sulphuric acid did the trick. Aren't you glad we have Head and Shoulders shampoo now a days?

Yes, we've come a long way when it comes to hair care, not to mention skin care and the like. Some of the old beauty tips and tricks from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are laughable. But folks swore by them back then.

Care of hair was one thing, hairstyles another. For a fun look at Victorian hairstyles, check out Victorian Hairstyles: A short history, in photos here.  Long hair was definitely the crowning glory for women back then. So much for my pixie cut!

Kit Morgan is the author of over fifty books of pure fun and romance! Her heartwarming stories are described as Green Acres meets Gunsmoke and are chock full of surprises! You can check out her books on her website.


  1. Oh my, and the things they used for hairpieces. Great post. Doris

  2. Fascinating post Kit! And lovely pictures!

  3. Yes, they had some pretty interesting recipes for hair care back then, that's for sure!

  4. My grandma wore her hair like the lady in the second picture down. How it stayed that way, I have no idea.