10 Secrets of Beautiful Manes From the Past That Might Make Your Hair Stand on End Today

2 years ago

Today we can easily find harmless hair care products and dyes in any color that’ll probably not make you go bald. Perhaps this variety and range have never been as robust as they are today, but it doesn’t mean that our ancestors didn’t care about their manes.

Bright Side arranged a historical trip to find out how people in the distant and not very distant past took care of their hair. Some of these methods astonished us to the core.

They would use bricks for hair growth.

There is an interesting recipe for a hair growth product in an anonymous digest from the 17th century. It was made with fresh yellow wax and crushed red brick. According to an unknown author, this oil worked wonders for those suffering from hair loss.

They would style hair with swallow droppings.

People would only use natural products to give their hair the necessary shape. There is information regarding the composition of a styling agent from the early Renaissance. According to the recipe, our ancestors styled their hair with swallow droppings and lizard tallow.

They would clean their hair with ash.

The ancient inhabitants of the Indonesian island of Java would burn dried rice stalks and soak the ashes in water overnight. Later they would rinse their hair with this solution and then complete the beauty ritual with conditioning by applying coconut oil to their hair.

They would wear cages to protect the hair from rats.

In the days of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I, women used lard to set their hair. Because of this, women had to sleep in nightcaps that would protect them from rats. The thing is, this styling product attracted rodents better than any other treat.

They would risk their health during depilation.

Body hair was removed in ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. For example, according to one of the legends, Cleopatra herself did sugaring. However, other methods were also used for it — they were much less safe than sugar paste.

For many centuries, a special mineral called orpiment, which was actually arsenic sulfide, was used as a means for depilation. When applied to damaged skin, this compound could cause poisoning.

Barbers would put their fingers into their clients’ mouths.

It seemed impossible to remove hair from the face by yourself before the invention of the safety razor. While sitting in the barber’s chair, men would puff out their cheeks. Thus, the skin on their face was stretched, and the risk of being cut by a sharp blade was significantly reduced.

In the 19th century, American barbers would put their fingers in their clients’ mouths while shaving. It let them stretch and unfold the skin and get to the hardest-to-reach facial areas without feeling afraid to injure their client. Mark Twain described this procedure in one of his stories, “He now put his finger into my mouth to assist him in shaving the corners of my upper lip, and it was by this bit of circumstantial evidence that I discovered that a part of his duties in the shop was to clean the kerosene lamps.”

They would wash their hair once a year.

Our ancestors didn’t always think that immersing themselves in water was good for staying healthy. Bathing in a cool environment was associated with the risk of getting sick, so some people washed their hair once a year. For example, an English writer from the 17th century, John Evelyn, confessed that he would wash his hair once a year, using warm water and decoction of aroma herbs.

It is known that in the 19th century, more attention was paid to washing. In the “Full guide on the art of dressing” released in 1830, the author recommended gentlemen cut their hair once a month and wash it according to the season — 2 times in summer and once in winter.

They would replace washing with combing.

In England at the beginning of the 17th century, ladies would rub their heads with a linen cloth to cleanse their hair. After that, a special combing blanket was thrown over the shoulders, which protected the clothes from dirt. Finally, they’d start combing.

The comb was a multifunctional tool. It would help get rid of dirt, lice, and dandruff in the hair, and it was also used for taking care of the head and styling the hair.

The market for combs was huge and diverse. There were wooden combs, and combs made from bone, horn, and tortoiseshell on the market. It’s worth noting that combs were treated carefully because they were not that cheap or affordable. In order to extend the lifetime of a comb, it was stored in a specially tailored case.

They would heal dandruff and neuralgia with brushes.

At the end of the 19th century, an electric brush for hair had been created by Dr. Scott and was released in England. By the way, it wasn’t electric at all — it was called this just because iron rods were used in its composition. Nevertheless, this product was perceived as a panacea for all ills. The advertisement claimed that the brush would eliminate dandruff, stop gray hair, calm the brain, and cure headaches and neuralgia in 5 minutes.

They would curl hair with steel filings.

People strived to get curly hair in both chemical and mechanical ways. In the handwritten digest of recipes by Bridgette Hyde, there was an example of a product made from incense and dew, while in a book by the Boiles people were told to wet their hair with this solution first and then curl it.

In 17th century England, hair was treated with a very unique infusion, one of the ingredients of which was steel filings. They were infused for one day with ink nuts, quince seeds, and cypress leaves. To prepare the product they used water that had previously been boiled with rye. Then they would boil the infusion until it got as thick as honey. The hair was processed with the finished product and curled overnight with the help of improvised means.

About 100 years later, people started to use more gentle procedures. It is known that Lord Byron was once found with paper on his head by one of his friends during their study at Cambridge. The poet’s friend was surprised because he thought that Byron’s hair was curly by nature.

What do you do to care for your hair? What modern procedures can you recommend to others?


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