Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Remember When . . . There Was No Shampoo?

I find this subject intriguing and terrifying: hair care. I was one of those teenagers who had to wash her hair everyday, and by evening it was yucky again. Not anymore, thankfully, but still. The horror! And given that at the time I read more historicals than anything, I was always interested in what in the world people did with their hair before the marvelous invention of shampoo.

There's apparently some disagreement about this. When I was researching an idea for a Revolutionary War story, I came across a reenactor website that had a seriously in depth section about the hair. There was, of course, the debate about powdering real hair versus a wig, etc., but what I found most interesting was the talk about washing hair in general.

As everyone probably knows, using soap on hair just doesn't work. It strips it down, removes essential oils. Wash your hair with traditional skin soap and you end up with dry, breaking, nasty hair. So one of the theories is that people would do this, then oil their hair. There are some recipes for hair oil out there to support this.

But this particular reenactor had read something that said people simply washed their hair in water, so her group conducted an experiment. (These people are dedicated!) A handful of people began washing their hair with only water and kept doing it for six months or something. They found that after a week or two, their hair adjusted. It wasn't oily. It wasn't dry. It was actually perfectly balanced, glossy, and soft. You know, like we strive to achieve with expensive shampoos, lol. The fact that natural works so well leads me to believe that for most of history, this is probably exactly what people did.

The claim really, really intrigues me . . . though not enough to try it for myself. I'm not that dedicated to history. ;-) But I thought some of you might find that little tidbit interesting too, so I thought I'd pass it along. Now your hair can be one less thing to worry about if you're ever stranded in the wilderness with water but no shampoo for an extended period of time. =)

1 comment:

  1. What about before toothpaste? That's always what semi-grosses me out now when I'm watching period movies or reading historicals.

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