Recipes for improving the hair

From Gracefulness: being A Few Words upon Form and Features Containing Practical Advice Edited by Arthur Freeling. London Houlston and Stoneman. [1845]

11 Palma-Christi Oil, for thickening the Hair

Take 1 ounce of Palma-Christi oil, add oil of lavender or bergamotte to scent it.

Let it be well brushed into the hair twice a day for two or three months, particularly applying it to those parts where it may be most desirable to render the hair luxuriant. This is a simple and valuable oil, and not in the hands of any monopolist.

[Ed. First find some Palma-Christi oil! It seems to be akin to castor oil.]

12 Macassar Oil

There is, in fact, no such thing imported into the country, although many thousands of pounds are annually expended, both in the advertizing and in the purchasing of an article which passes under the name. The ingredients of which it is composed are the most simple and economical. The following, we are told, is the genuine recipe:- Take 1 quart of olive oil, 2 ½ ounces of spirits of wine, 1 ounce of cinnamon powder, 5 drachms of bergamotte. Heat them together in a large pipkin, then remove it from the fire, and add 4 small pieces of alkanet root; keep it closely covered for six hours, let it be filtered through a funnel lined with blotting or filtering paper.

13 An excellent Water to prevent Hair falling of, and to thicken it

Put 1 pound of unadulterated honey into a still, with 3 handsful of the tendrils of vine and the same quantity of rosemary tops. Distil as cool and as slowly as possible. The liquor may be allowed to drop till it tastes sour.

13* Soft Pomatum

Soak ½ a pound of unsalted fresh lard, and ¼ a pound of beef marrow, in water two or three days; put it into a sieve, and when drained, into a jar, which place in a saucepan of water. Put the saucepan on a slow fire, and when the composition is melted, pour it into a basin and beat it with two spoonsful of brandy, drain off the brandy, and add essence of lemon, otto of roses, millefleur, or any scent you prefer.

14 Excellent Hair Oil to prevent Baldness

Boil ½ a pound of green southernwood in 1½ pint of sweet oil, add ½ a pint of port wine. When boiled strain it through a fine linen bag three times; each time adding fresh southernwood, then add 2 ounces of bear's grease, and replace it near the fire in a covered vessel, until the bear's grease be dissolved. Take it off, thoroughly mix the ingredients, and bottle it close.

15 To thicken the Hair

Dip the tooth of your comb every morning in the expressed juice of nettles, and comb the hair the wrong way. For the same purpose some persons recommend the head to be shaved and then fomented with a decoction of wormwood, southernwood, sage, betony, vervain, marjorum, myrtle, dill, rosemary, or mistletoe.

The following two receipts are highly recommended, but we [1845 editor] cannot answer for their being effective.

16 For darkening the Hair

Wash the head with spring water, and comb the hair in the sun, having dipped the comb in oil of tartar. Do this about three times a day, and in less than a fortnight the hair becomes quite black. The leaves of the wild vine, infused in water, are also said to render the hair black, and to prevent its falling off. Some persons use a metallic comb, which imparts a dark shade to the hair; they are now generally kept by the perfumers, but it is a dirty habit.

17 To dye the Hair flaxen

We have heard the following is effective.

Take a quart of lye prepared from the ashes of vine twigs, briony, celandine roots, and turmeric, of each ½ an ounce, saffron and lily roots, of each 2 drachms, flowers of mullein, yellow stechas, broom, and St. John's wort, of each a drachm. Boil these together and strain off the liquor clear. Frequently wash the hair with this fluid, and it will change it (we are told) in a short time, to a beautiful flaxen colour.

18 Hair Dye

We have the following recommended.

We fear it would injure the skin and turn it black if not used with great care.

Take 2 drachms of silver, ½ an ounce of steel filings; pour upon these 1 ounce of nitric acid, and let it remain until these be dissolved, then add 8 ounces of rain water; shake all well together, and let it remain for 24 hours, then the floating liquor will constitute the dye, and is to be applied with the hair-brush.

N.B. This is a caustic dye, and care must be taken that it does not drop on the clothes.

19 Grecian Water for darkening the Hair

Dissolve two drachms of nitrate of silver in 6 ounces of distilled water, and add 2 drachms of gum water; perfume it to the taste, and wet the hair which is to be changed. If this touches the skin it will turn it black; though it does darken the hair at first, the black colouring will sometimes become purple. This mixture is generally sold at a very exorbitant price.