11 / 23 / 16

Men’s Baldness in History

For those of you who think that HRC Dayton has embarked on a totally new phenomenon – you are wrong. Four thousand years ago, ancient Egyptians were searching for a hair loss cure. In 1500 B.C., Egyptians recited a magic spell to the sun god before swallowing a cocktail of onions, iron, red lead, honey and alabaster. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Then, in 1100 B.C., balding men rubbed the fat from lions, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, ibex, tomcat, serpents, porcupine hair and geese onto their scalps. That didn’t work either. Next, they tried the leg of a female greyhound sauteed in oil with the hoof of a donkey. When all these anecdotes failed, the men wore wigs and fake beards.

In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, born around 460 B.C., rubbed a potion onto his scalp that was made from horseradish, cumin, opium, beetroot, spices, pigeon droppings and nettles. Interestingly, what did survive history is that the horseshoe fringe of hair on balding men is also call the Hippocratic wreath. Hippocrates also came up with a radical surgical treatment for baldness when he noticed that the eunuchs never lost hair on the top of their head. Understandably, most of the men did not opt for castration in favor of a full head of hair. But, in 1995 researchers at Duke University confirmed that castration did, indeed, prevent hair loss.

In ancient Rome, Julius Caesar was constantly looking for ways to hide his thinning hair. Thus, the emergence of the laurel wreath! Cleopatra recommended a remedy of ground-up mice, horse teeth and bear grease. That, too, didn’t work. Julius Caesar also did the first “comb over” in history (and you thought that was a twentieth century maneuver). Caesar would grow his hair long in the back, and then comb it forward over his bald spot.

Moving on up to King Louis XIV of France, you have one of the vainest men in history. After a severe illness, Louis lost his hair and began the style of wearing gigantic wigs. Some of the creations worn by the men of the court were so huge that they featured cages with live birds. These wigs could weigh up to 20 lbs.

In eighteenth century England, long, curly powdered wigs were the style among gentlemen. Today, English judges and lawyers have continued the practice, and wear their long, curly wigs in court. It is from this custom that the term for those in authority as “big wigs” has originated.

In the United States, in the nineteenth century, the snake oil salesmen came into being. These were swindlers who pretended they were doctors and peddled phony potions that promised to treat all sorts of ailments. Some of them were supposed to reverse hair loss. A popular potion of the day was one called Seven Sutherland Sisters’ Hair Grower. It was marketed by a family of sideshow performers who had incredibly long, full hair cascading down their backs.

In nineteenth century England, the cure of the day for hair loss was to rub “cold India tea” and hunks of lemon into your scalp. If that didn’t work, you would have your beverage ready for tea time.

Moving into the 20th century, high tech enters the picture. Allied Merke Institute unveiled the Thermocap device in the 1920s. Men and women with thinning hair needed to spend 15 minutes a day under a bonnet-like gadget’s heat and blue light. This was supposed to stimulate dormant hair bulbs.

Then, in 1936, the Crosley Company introduced the Xervac, a machine that used suction to spur hair growth. Gentlemen were encouraged “to kick back and relax with a cigarette and newspaper as the helmet-encased vacuum pump worked its magic on their follicles.”

In 1939, a Japanese dermatologist pioneered a procedure for grafting hair from the scalp, eyebrows, face and other parts of the body onto bald spots.

Two decades later, the New York doctor, Norman Orentreich, popularized hair transplants, which for many years resulted in scalps reminiscent of doll’s heads. This treatment for male pattern baldness is alive and well to this day, but with more natural results.”

As you can see, the Dayton hair loss specialists at HRC Dayton know our history, but we also know what works in today’s world. Contact us today to set up an appointment. We promise: no snake oils or India tea on your scalp!