We've all cherished the beauty secrets passed down from our parents and grandparents, but what about the forebear's treasures we don't know of? Have you ever wondered what people used to wash their hair before shampoos and conditioners were invented? Theories have been wild and prevalent from people using animal fat to elm bark on their hair to make it shiny, lustrous, and most importantly clean. So here’s a deeper dive into the medieval secrets of hair washing and conditioning.
A Walk Through The History Of Hair Washing
According to mediaeval history, folks in the middle ages typically presumed baths to be an unhealthy practice and rarely preferred it. However, they used a mixture of burnt barley bread, salt, and bear fat to help their hair grow, and elm bark, willow root, red root, and goat milk tea to wash their hair.
The 18th Century saw the rise of wigs with people using lye soaps or water to grease their hair for wigs to fit in. Finally, before the ‘Shampoo Revolution’, the Victorian era popularised the use of eggs. They would split an egg open on their heads, gently massage it till it formed a gooey mess on top, and then rinse it with water. It was also during this era; Doctors likewise encouraged people about the importance of soaps and shampoos followed soon after.
Ancient Ways To Wash Your Hair
The advancements in skin and hair care have not only guaranteed us a better way to cleanse ourselves but also paved the way for industrialization. But as harsh chemicals and pollution seem to damage the quality of our hair, maybe it’s time we return to our ancestral roots to find some age-old yet effective ways to nourish our hair.
Coming from ancient Egypt is the secret of using castor oil and almond oil to nourish your hair. This method was supposed to provide protection from the arid climate and promote hair growth. Even to this day, castor oil is quite famous for its use in moisturising the scalp, easing dandruff, and making your hair soft, smooth, and shiny.
In Native American culture, long hair was a trait both appreciated by males as well as females. This can be attributed to the substantial use of aloe vera in their diet. In today’s era, we have found the use of aloe vera extremely beneficial to our hair. From strengthening hair, controlling greasy hair, helping an itchy scalp, and promoting hair growth. Used in various hair masks, conditioners, shampoos, and treatments, aloe vera remains a favourite hair care remedy even in the 21st century.
Native to central and north America, sapote or sapuyulo oil is more famously known as the seed of Chikoo, and the oil is extracted from this seed. The oil is still used today and is presumed to alleviate dandruff, soothe dry and irritated scalps, and even encourage hair growth. The seed is quite rich in fatty acids and contains naturally active phytochemicals that nourish and hydrate the hair.
The widely used product in the beauty world finds its origins in Morocco and has been a cult favorite since then. Like most oils, argan oil conditions your hair and moisturizes it from the roots. It can also reduce breakage from split ends, and damaged hair and the oxidants present in it can strengthen hair follicles for hair growth.
In Southern China, the minority community of Yao is quite popular for their long, lustrous black hair that doesn’t seem to appear grey even until in their 80s. One of their secrets is using fermented rice water to wash their hair which apparently makes the hair softer and shinier. Used in various hair masks and treatments even today, fermented rice water is beneficial because it contains nutrients like amino acids, vitamin B complexes, vitamin E, and antioxidants minerals. These let your hair delay greying, increase its shine, and detangle them along with volumizing it.
Eggs are a high source of protein and have been a constant in the hair care regime since the Victorian era. Various DIY egg mask recipes have now taken their place in current generations hair routine as well, and it is because Vitamins A and E, biotin, and folate are found in eggs that keep hair thick and healthy. Using yolk as a conditioner for the hair is also a great alternative since it is loaded with healthy fats, which help replenish moisture and make strands look sleek and shiny.
Another widely popular ingredient for conditioning your hair in the old days was definitely coconut oil. It was used by people in Japan, China, and India to control frizz and condition your hair. Not much needs to be said about the benefits of this product because it is one such ingredient that has been a constant in our childhood. However, it helps seal moisture since it is a natural saturated fat and can also calm scalp irritation, flaking, and itching.
These natural remedies to condition and wash your hair have been there for a very long time and continue to be a part of our daily lives owing to their amazing benefits and equally effective results. The best part is that one can easily find these products and use them regularly to get shiny, lustrous, and great hair.