Hair Care Tips From Lola Montez

Do you remember Lola Montez? She was an Irish dancer, actress, courtesan, mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and a lecturer! What a busy life she led, huh? And as that wasn’t enough, in 1859, she published her book, The Arts Of Beauty, in which she shared lots of tips on all aspects of beauty and even gives advice to men on how to win a lady! I have already shared some of these tips in a previous post, but I had left out her advice about hair and so I thought it was high time to remedy this. So, what has Lola to say about haircare?

How to get beautiful hair

Lola thought that “without a fine head of hair no woman can be really beautiful.” She argued that even the most beautiful woman on the planet would look ugly if her head was shaved. She also believed the same to be true for a man: without beautiful locks, their appearance suffered too. Because of this, it was essential that anyone took proper care of their hair. But how?

She recommended to start taking care of it from childhood. Children should wear their hair short and thus their locks should be frequently cut. Every morning, their heads should be washed by scrubbing their scalps with a damp sponge and cold water. Their locks should be brushed for about 10 minutes a few times a day, but combing it often with a fine tooth comb should be avoided as the points of the teeth could scratch and irritate the scalp. All these rules, but that of cutting hair frequently, should be followed by adults as well.

Lola though brushing was an essential step in any hair care routine and gives the following tips on what brushes to use and how to take care of them: “Two brushes are indispensable for the toilet – one for the rough use of cleaning the hair, and the other for polishing it. A black brush should be used for the former, and a white one for the latter. Ladies need not be told that washing spoils brushes. The way to clean them is to rub them thoroughly with bran, which removes all the grease, and leaves the bristles stiff and firm as ever. When the bristles of a brush become too limber for use, they may be hardened again by dipping them in one part of spirits of ammonia, and two of water. This will also thoroughly cleanse them from all greasy substances.”

Hair Care Recipes

1. To prevent the hair from falling off
“A remedy for weak and falling hair has been sought for by beautiful women, and by men too, with as much avidity as ever the mad enthusiast sought for the philosopher’s stone”, wrote Lola, before sharing a recipe a London physician gave one of her friends and that seemed to have helped, or so she claims:

Boxwood shavings 6 oz
Proof spirit 12 oz
Spirits of rosemary 2 oz
Spirits of nutmegs J oz

The boxwood shavings should be left to steep in the spirits, at a temperature of 60 degrees, for fourteen days, and then the liquid should be strained off, and the other ingredients mixed. The scalp to be thoroughly washed, or rubbed with this every night and morning.

2. To prevent the hair from turning grey
Lola believed that no powders nor other compounds could prevent hair from turning grey. Because the appearance of grey hair could be hastened by great grief, perpetual anxiety and care, she recommended “temperance, moderation in all things, and frequent washings with pure cold water”.

3. How to color grey hair
But hair will turn grey sooner or later. So, what could women do to hide that? Lola advices her readers to stay away from hair dyes containing dangerous substances such as poisonous mineral acids, nitrate and oxide of silver, caustic alkalies, lime, litharge and arsenic, as they can harm both hair and health. Instead, she suggested this recipe:

Gallic acid 10 grs
Acetic acid 1 oz
Tincture of sequi chloride of iron 1 oz

Dissolve the gallic acid in the tincture of sesqui-chloride of iron, and then add the acetic acid. Before using this preparation, the hair should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. A great and desirable peculiarity of this dye, is that it can be so applied as to color the hair either black or the lighter shade of brown. If black is the color desired, the preparation should be applied while the hair is moist, and for brown it should not be used till the hair is perfectly dry. The way to apply the compound is to dip the points of a fine tooth comb into it until the interstices are filled with the fluid, then gently draw the comb through the hair, commencing at the roots, till the dye has perceptably taken effect. When the hair is entirely dry, oil and brush it as usual.

4. Hair cleansers and brightener
To cleanse and brighten hair, Lola recommended this recipe used daily by a great beauty at Munich: “beat up the white of four eggs into a froth, and rub that thoroughly in dose to the roots of the hair. Leave it to dry on. Then wash the head and hair clean with a mixture of equal parts of rum and rose water.”

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you’re interested in reading the entire book (and it is a very fascinating read), The Arts Of Beauty is available for free at Google Books.

6 Comment

  1. I love your historical beauty posts! They are so fascinating and I don’t think I would have ever heard about her or the others if you didn’t share them with us. :] The pictures break up the text too and help us see what we’re reading. Very well done. :D

    • Janessa, I’m glad you do. It’s fascinating to know what people used to beautify themselves in the past, isn’t it?

      And thanks. I’m trying to use more pictures now to make the posts easier to read and it’s nice to know you like it. :)

    • Swati, they have become difficult to do and I’m not sure how effective they would be either, especially compared to the products we have nowadays, but it’s very interesting nonetheless to know how people cared about their appearance in the past. :)

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