Scientific American 23, 22.2.1851
The coloring of hair, while growing, is an object of some consequence to those who have not the natural good fortune of enjoying sable locks. The use of chemicals for coloring the hair is very commong among the civilized nations of Europe and America. Red heads are foolishly abominated in no country more than our own. The prejudice is no doubt inherited from our English and Irish ancestors, who had such a hearty hatred of the Danes - the red-haired race. They had felt the iron hand of Denmark, and it was held to be a most unlucky event to meet a red-haired man first in the morning, but above all, a year's misfortune to meed a red-haired man first on New Year's Day. Deep auburn locks with a reddish hue, were helt to be the most beautiful of any, and among the nations of the East - in some parts of Turkey - red hair is fashionable, and ladies with fine sable ringlets often make them red with pigments. In Persia, too, blue beards are common - old men of seventy may be seen with fine blue beards, so there is no accounting for fashion, "'tis all a matter of whimsical flourish," as Dibden would say.
It has been asserted that the use of the tincture of sulphur and sugar of lead has changed old Gov. Twiggs from a gray-haired veteran to a brown-haired Adonis, consequently this lotion has become not a little fashionable, but better far to wear the gray than indulge in such vile practices.
The genetal hair dyes are made of lead and silver compositions. A lead comb, with the use of oil, makes the hair sleek and jet, but then it is a fine way to keep the hair in the negative condition of cleanliness.
Liquids made of the nitrate of silver are the common hair dyes. In powder the nitrate of silver, if made into a paste, and rubbed into a fiery set of whiskers, then bound up with a cloth for five or six hours, will change them to a black. This is merely causticizing them, and the silver sticks like lime. It can be got off, however, without a great deal of trouble. The nitrate of silver, in liquid, is the common hair dye. It is most effectual, but it is best to apply it repeatedly and to have it very weak, or otherwise it will prove very injurious to the system. In alcoholi lotions for the hair, a very small quantity of the bichromate of potash, which is of a yellow color, will affect the hair and make it darker. It takes a long time before its effects are observed but they are no less sure on that account. This is a very safe substance to use, but care must be exercised in using only a very small quantity, or the color will be of too deep yellow in the liquid.
It has been said that the Chinese have a method of treating with food, so as to change the system and give a permanent black head of hair. This is altogether an assertion, without a single fact for proof. Different nations are distinquished for their general complexion, - the Fins are red, the Scotch, brown, the Spaniards, black, and great numbers of the Irish have peculiarly fine blue-black hair; the Americans are of every hue, because made up of all nations. Those who are fond of coloring their hair to change it from a light to a dark color, can easily do so by applying to the perfumer. We have never seen a change made from a black to light hair, but we have met not a few red-headed mulattoes, they seemed to pride themselves on their sanguine appearance, but of all men we ever saw they appeared to require the nitrate of silver most.