Hair Care during the Ages

Hair Care during the Ages

I always associate pilgrims with Thanksgiving and considering it just past, it made me wonder what pilgrims used for hair products or what women in general during the ages used. Ever wonder what women back in the day used for shampoo and conditioner? Or what they used as styling products? Well I certainly have. Imagine not being able to go to the store and pick up our favorite shampoo and conditioner or styling products. OR A BLOW-DRYER?! Blow dryers weren’t invented until the 19th century and handheld household ones were not available until the early 1900s.



That being said...Here’s what I found...



During this time many hair products and treatments included exotic animal ingredients. Hair gel was made from lizard tallow and swallow droppings. Tallow is fat renderings and swallow droppings is a kind of a bird poop. So, I guess women during this time were not too sensitive to what kind of ingredients were used on their hair. I know I would have had a major issue with putting bird poop and animal fat on my hair as gel. It seems like lizards may have been a versatile animal used during this age because they also used boiled lizards and olive oil for conditioner. I understand they had to make do considering the time frame, but I am curious how they came to find that these exotic ingredients would be great for hair recipes.



For me, this and the 18th century had to be my favorite. Not only because it was the Enlightenment era but because it reminds me of Marie Antoinette and all the big gowns and big wigs. It looked like such a fun time for fashion. Similar to the previous centuries, women in the 1600s would set their hair with lard (animal fat). It was said that the odor would attract rats at night, so women would have to sleep with nightcaps to keep them away.



Wigs were a very popular fashion piece for both men and women. This became a huge trend because lice and syphilis were rampant in Europe and wigs were used as a protectant for their hair. Most men shaved their heads to eliminate lice but also, so the wig fit them well. Wigs would have pomade applied to them and then powder was used to coat the wig. Powders were made from flour, starches or dried white clay and they came in different shades like yellow, blue and pink, but white was the most common. They were often scented with lavender or other floral scents.


It’s weird to look back and see how much hair routines, products and trends changed over time but also so much fun to read about. Which century is your favorite?

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