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A Wash for the Hair

Egg Whites (even in the form of Mayonaise) have long been used in conjuncture with hair washing to give a glossy shine. This receipt, from the Mirror of Graces, printed in 1811, makes good use of them. In a time when hair washing was at a minimum and pomades made of lard and grease were widely used, shampoo (a word which dates back to 1768) a soap especially for hair was a delight instead of the harsh lye soaps traditionally used.

The term and service was introduced by a Bengali entrepreneur Sake Dean Mahomed, who opened a shampooing bath known as ‘Mahomed’s Indian Vapour Baths’ in Brighton, England in 1759. His baths were like Turkish baths where clients received an Indian treatment of champi (shampooing) or therapeutic massage. His service was appreciated; he received the high accolade of being appointed ‘Shampooing Surgeon’ to both George IV and William IV.

During the early stages of shampoo, English hair stylists boiled shaved soap in water and added herbs to give the hair shine and fragrance. Kasey Hebert, a London entrepreneur, was the first known maker of shampoo, and the origin is currently attributed to him.

Wash for the Hair
This is a cleanser and brightener of the head and hair, and should be applied in the morning.
Beat up the whites of six eggs into a froth, and with that annoint the head close to the roots of the hair. Leave it to dry on; then wash the head and hair thoroughly with a mixture of rum and rose-water in equal quantities.
The Mirror of Graces
, by a Lady of Distinction, 1811

It’s worth a try…..

Historical information from


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