The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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524                                     THE HAIR.
from its removal of the oily matter of the hair; but in some cases, when there is a quantity of old and tough epidermis matted with the contents of the srebaceous follicles, and obstructing the growth of the hair, nothing else will liberate it from this injurious thraldom. Whenever it is likely that plenty of water is to be employed for young children; soap should never be used, but it would be rather beneficial than otherwise, if it is not used every day, for it will only remove enough of these impeding materials without entirely de­stroying the secretion of the oily matter in rendering the hair too dry and brittle. With proper cleanliness the hair ought never to be touched with soap, egg, or any other solvent oil. Yet, if this daily washing is not practiced, and in the long hair of ladies it can scarcely be, an occasional washing with the yolk of eggs is beneficial. Friction, when not too violent, is very efficacious, and ranks next to ablution, and acts in the same way, but when employed through the medium of very penetrating stiff brush or or a sharp-toothed comb, causes the fine skin to become inflamed, because left bare of its covering. The brush ought to be pushed into the hair at an angle with the surface of the skin, and not driven into it in a perpendicular manner; not more than enough to raise the loose particles of epidermis. It should be perfectly understood that the cure is in the hand, and not in the brush. Plain water or fric­tion are the only means necessary to keep the hair in a healthy state, but a neglected scalp may require soap or yolk of eggs.
The best stimulants to the growth of the hair are turpentine and cantharides, or Eau de Cologne, 2 ounces; tincture of can-tharides, 2 drachms; oil of lavender or rosemary, of each, 10 drops. These applications must be used once or twice a day for a considerable time; but if the scalp becomes sore, they must be dis­continued for a time, or used at longer intervals. By these means, whenever the bulb is not actually diseased; and so long as there is any hair left, however fine, it may be made to enlarge by the in­creased flow of blood transmitted to the follicles, and in this way many apparently helpless cases have recovered. With regard to the oily matter required by the hair, it should be of such a nature as not to become solid in the open air, but to remain in a liquid state. Vegetable oils are so volatile that they rapidly lose their fluidity, so that in a short time the hair is in a worse condition than before using the oil, because it is no longer moistened, and a fresh layer of stickly, pasty matter is formed. If oils are used at all, they should be composed of animal fats. Beefs foot oil, seasoned with any favorite essential oil (all of which are more or less stimulating), is a most valuable addition to the toilet. Olive oil and almond oil, even when mixed with hard animal fat, are too drying in their nature