Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Men's hair care, 1830

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Loretta reports:
The chief attributes of hair should be curl, strength, and gloss. All three of which, however sparing nature may have been in her gifts, art can make up. Hair, which in itself depends for nourishment upon the head, when refused that requisite supply by a dry habit of body, and turns of deadish hue, should be oiled every morning. The way to apply oils or grease of any kind to nourish the hair, is to rub it well in at the roots, when its essential virtue can only be of service, and then brush it well. Brushing is as absolutely required by the hair, as washing by the face, it is this that bestows that fine gloss which so much improves the appearance of the hair, at the same time excluding all dandriff. This ever forms and renders the hair of a dead and unanimated appearance, when not well brushed. A hard penetrating, and a soft brush should be alternately used. The former strengthens the roots of the hair by impelling a brisker circulation of the blood, while the latter bestows the shine or polish.

Oils in general, I am by no means partial to. There are, indeed, scarcely any, besides the Macassar, upon which much reliance should be placed. Bears' grease, when genuine, there can be no doubt, is very nourishing to the hair, and greatly promotes its growth, as well as strength. But neither oil nor bears' grease should be applied to the hair without a good brushing. In fact, if rubbed softly on the top of the brush, and so applied, it is quite as well. The hair should never be suffered to grow long uncut, as it seems to fade and droop, and the ends split; for this reason, to have it in perfection, it should be trimmed at the least once every month. I likewise recommend washing it once a fortnight in the summer, and half as often in winter. This should be done with water, hot as you can bear it; and if soap be used in winter, in summer it never should. Care should be taken in washing it well out, as it is pernicious in the extreme.
The whole art of dress! or, The road to elegance and fashion, at the enormous saving of thirty per cent!!!, by a cavalry officer,1830

Illustration:  Thomas Rowlandson, Macassar Oil, an Oily Puff for Soft Heads, courtesy Oregon Health & Science University


Jane O said...

Love it. No wonder people put antimacassers on the chairs!

Regencyresearcher said...

I was amazed when I first learned the meaning and reason of the name antimacassers-- those lacy things pinned to the back and arms of the upholstered chairs. I wonder if any one even has antimacassers any more? The description of the Macasser hair oil does remind me of the 70's (1970's) and the pompadours men wore and kept in place by gobs of hair goop.

Unknown said...

I always wondered why a gentleman's dresser set had two brushes. Thanks!

MrsT said...

Fascinating info! Thank you for sharing this. Wonder if you can get macassar hair oil now?

Alexa Adams said...

I'm ironically reminded of the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America, and the jheri curl stains several characters left on upholstery. One would think that with such infrequent washings, additional hair oil would be entirely unnecessary.

Recycled Cottage & Garden said...

Only use soap in winter? Only wash your hair once every 2 weeks? yuck! No wonder some of those people in the oldest of photos look so unhappy. I bet their heads itched like crazy.

KEHutchinson said...

@Regency Researcher: I have a few anti-massacars from the 1930's (I think) that my grandmother had. They're quite lovely embroidered pieces and I have been considering turning them into throw pillows, because I don't dare use them as they are for fear of my cats knocking them off all the time.

KEHutchinson said...

@LadyHawthorne Your comment reminded me of this lovely film "Keeping Neat and Clean" from the '50s, in which children were taught to take a shower or bath once a week.

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