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Hair Care

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The proper management of the hair is very simple. It should be kept as clean as possible by daily brushing with a stiff brush, by removal of the scurf that forms upon the skin (See DANDRUFF), and by occasionally washing it with pure cold water, which will have no injurious effect upon the health, provided the hair is not so long as to make its drying difficult To assist in drying it thoroughly, dip the brush into a very little hair powder or starch, brush it into the hair, and then brush it out. After this a little perfumed pomatum may be brushed in —too much not only makes the hair greasy, but injures it. There is a natural oil secreted by the hair which ought to be sufficient for keeping it iii good order, but this is often deficient, and the hair be-comes dry and harsh ; then it is that the deficiency may be supplied by a little pomatum or oil. A multitude of hair oils are sold by perfumers, their compositions being kept secret, and each being represented as having extraordinary qualities. It is best to have nothing to do with any of them, for when they are not injurious they are no better than preparations which can be made at home with little trouble, and for which we shall give a receipt or Two further along. When hair has become too greasy from too free use of oil or pomatum, it is proper to remove the unctuous matter by persistent brushing. Occasionally soap is resorted to for this purpose, but soap will change the color of the hair, and should be used cautiously. A little white soap dissolved in spirits of wine is most effectual and less injurious than soap alone. After using it the hair must be well washed with water.

It is very doubtful whether frequent cutting of the hair is favorable to its growth and beauty, as is generally assumed. It always renders the hair coarse and stubby, and it is certain that the common practice of cropping or shaving the head, for the purpose of strengthening the growth of the hair, not only fails of this effect, but often produces total baldness.

The loosening and falling out of the hair is frequently the direct result of fever or derangement of the system, but is more often the con-sequence of weakness of the nervous power. It may be checked by improvement of the general health and the use of proper local remedies. A useful practice, when the hair is sufficiently short, is to plunge the head into cold water every morning and night, and, after thoroughly drying, to brush it briskly until the scalp is warmed to a glow. A simple lotion composed of 2 drachms of tincture of cantharides, 6 drachms of essence of rosemary, and 11 ounces of elder-flower water may be effectually employed as a tonic. In cases of baldness the scalp may be advantageously shaved and the secretion of the hair stimulated by dry friction, tonic lotions (rum for example), and by a stimulating diet. There is a premature grayness which sometimes occurs in the young, chiefly in those of light complexion and light colored hair. It comes from the same causes as the loosening or falling out of the hair.

Dyeing the hair is the most absurd of all at-tempts at human deceit, since it never is successful, and deceives no one but the deceiver himself. The practice is generally begun with the idea that a single application will be sufficient for all time; but the dye only discolors that portion of the hair above the surface of the scalp. The new growth, which is constantly taking place from the roots, appears always with the natural tint. Moreover. there is no dye which does not injure the hair itself; and many of them —those containing lead or arsenic—tend to paralyze the brain and nervous system.

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