The Human Hair, Its Treatment, Oils, &c.

Scientific American 28, 27.3.1852

Among the races of men, there are hair of nearly all colors - black, brown, yellow, red, and all the intermediate shades; green hair belongs to certain sea kings and mermaids; blue beards, however, are not uncommon in Persia; a blue and yellow make a green, but fashion has not yet brought this color of hair into market, although things of a ore ridiculous complexion have at times been marks of haut ton, and so may green hair some day hence.

Black is the most prevalent color of the human hair - then brown. There are lank bair, woolly hair, curled hair, soft hair, coarse hair, and all the intermediate curls, and quality of fabric. A hair is a tube, and the colored barber who mounted on his sign, Cato Jackson, "Capillary Abridger," had a strong taste for scientific nomenclature. The color given to the hair is by an oil which passes up the interior of the tube. Iron is the principle coloring ingredient in it. The hair of the human head is generally lighter in childhood than in middle age, and it grows grey as old age advances. Many instances are recorded of hair becoming suddenly gray by fear ad grief. Byron has well pictured one case in his "Prisoner of Chillon,"
"My head is grey, but not with years,
Nor grew it white in a single night."
The cause of change in color of hair is not very well known.

It is believed that a man of 50 years of age will, by our custom of cutting the hair, have cut from his head about 13 feet of hair in twenty-five years, and he will have shaved off about 8 feet of beard. Physiologists deprecate the custom of cutting the hair of the head, and shavig that of the chin. They say that cutting the hair diverts the blood from the brain to the surface of the head. Bichat attributes superior strength to the ancients owing to their allowing the hair to grow without cutting.

When the hair falls from the head, its reproduction is almost like that of the teeth when lost by disease, extremely difficult - perhaps impossible. Many causes contribute to ake the hair decay early in some people. Intense study and mental labor tend to bring early baldness upon soft-haired people especially. Ne of literary and scientific pursuits become bald more early than those engaged in physical employments. People having strong, hard hair, do not become bald as early as those who have soft hair. We are speaking of early decay of hair apart from disease. Dandrut makes the hair decay early, and there are many other cutaneuous diseases, which act destructively upon the hair. Females do not become bald as early as men. Thin hair on a man is not looked upon as a marked defect, nor is a heavy crop considered a decided mark of beauty. It is otherwise with females; as of old, the long hair of woman is a crown of beauty - a glory unto her. To preserve the hair for a long period, the head (while the hair is strong and good), should be kept clean by beaing washed often and carefully brushed, especially on the crown, every evening. By washing the head with a solution of boraz, say twice per week, thse predisposed to dandruff will find a perfect cure for it. An article in the "Philosophical Transactions," says that of the ashes of vine branches are boiled in red wine, and this (the liqud) applied, milk-warm, to the  hair every evening, it will prevent the hair from falling out. A mixture of good brandy and olive oil is good to prevent the hair from falling out, by applying it with a sponge before going to bed, and brushing the head well. The head must be well brushed when these lotions are applied.

A plaster of honey and wood ashes, we have been informed, will make the hair grown on bald places. It is put on at night before going to bed. It is also stated, in the work referred to that if a quantity of the finest roots of the common burdoc, taken out of the ground in the month of December, are bruised in a marble mortar and boiled in white wine, say a handful of roots to a pint of wine, for fifteen miutes, then strained and clear liquor applied, slightly warm, to the head every night before going to bed, that it will make baldness disappear. There are many known cases of persons who had their hair restored partially - a little fine hari came up, remained for a little while, and then vanished. When the hair is once lost, we believe it is not possible ever to restore it as it was before there may be some cases of perfect restoration, but we know of none. - The best way to treat the head, to preserve the hair, is to brush it often, but not with too hard a brush, and wash it every night or morning with clear cold water, and rub with a towell till it is about dry. Use a little pure olive oil, but very little, to anoint the hair. Perfumes are an abomination to people of exquisite taste and cleanly habits. As Beau Brummel said, "pure air and country washing" were his cosmetics. Fevers of every kind affect the hair and make it fall out. After a fever or during the fever, the hair should be shaved or cut short, this prevents it from falling out.

There are powders for takig off hair. These are made of unslacked lime and orpiment. This is moistened with water and applied in the state of a paste. Unslacked lime itself forms a depilatory powder.

The hair can be colored by a solution of the nitrate of silver, dissolved in water, and applied with a sponge. It makes brown hair black, red hair brown, and white hair of reddish-brown. The liquid should not be allowed to touch the skin. A mixture of lime and litharge made into a paste with water, and applied to grey hairs, will render them black. It should be applied before going to bed, and the beard or whiskers tied up in a cloth. It takes considerable trouble to brush out the stuff next morning, and it renders the hair harsh, a little olive oil is then necessary to soften it.

To make a beautiful oil for the hair, take a pint on olive oil and bring it up to 200° of heat in a clean pan, (not iron), and add half an ounce of pearlash and stir well for tenmiutes. Take it off and set it to cool, when cold, a sediment will be found at the bottom. Pour off the clear through a cotton cloth, and put it up in a bottle for use. The pearlash combines with the margarin acid in the oil, leaving the olein; this will not get thick and will be free from odor. It can be colored red with garancin, (a preparation of madder), but hair oils should never be colored. All the hair oils of the perfumers are either of a red or yellow color. This is to please the eye of the buyer, who istakes an adulterated for a superior article. Hair oils should be clear and nearly colorless. By exposing the olive oil, refined as described, to the sun, in well corked bottless, it wil sooon become colorless, limpid as water, and exceedingly beautiful. Any person can thus prepare his own hair oil.

An excellent way to treat the head is to wash it every morning with cold water, and dry it well, rubbing it stiffly with a coarse towel When the hair is dry, put on a little of the prepared oil described, and brush well, but it is not best to use too hard a brush. On every Saturday evening the head should be washed with half an ounce of borax dissolved in a quart of water. This will form a soap with the oil in the hair, and when a good lather is made, wash all off in cold water, and dry well with a coarse towell, then brush it down and sleep on the subject. Next morning it should be anointed with the prepared oil spoken of. No oil is required to be used by some people; no more should ever be applied by any person than will barely suffice to take off its harshness and render it smooth and soft.

An interesting chapter will be given next week on customs respecting the hair, and national charasteristics.

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