James Cook Ayer began selling pills and potions in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1843. By the early 1870′s he was a multimillionaire. One of his most popular products, though not exactly promoted as a medication, was “Ayer’s Hair Vigor.”
Ayer’s Hair Vigor was first bottled in 1867, sold in a beautiful cobalt blue bottle with a glass stopper. The accompanying literature, while not making direct claims of restoring hair or preventing grey, broadly hinted at such benefits while throwing in an occasional disclaimer.
An interesting feature of the descriptive literature is that it not only names the ingredients, (required in 1906) it also gives a brief rundown of the “possible” benefits of each, while encouraging the user to review the information with his own personal medical practitioner. The particulars are printed in English, French and Spanish (indicating this hair product was sold widely).
By the time that “Hair Vigor” was being widely advertised, people had just begun to learn of the “germ theory of disease” established by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch in 1870. Though the theory was not yet well accepted or understood, it seems that many medicine promoters were quick to use this new scientific discovery to promote their wares, by attributing almost any symptom to “germs.”
For instance, Hair Vigor included:
- Sulphur – “destroys the dandruff germ and the germ which causes falling hair”. (Though sulphur is sometimes used in dandruff medications today, it is not specified for the “falling hair germ”).
- Glycerin – “for soothing and healing and a positive and distinct food value aiding nature in producing abundant luxuriant hair – food to the hairbulbs – destroys germ life.”
- Quinine – (Benefit not specified, but was most often used to treat. Malaria)
- Sodium Chloride – “for cleansing and healing” (table salt)
- Cantharides – “Arouses into full activity all the glands of the scalp.” (Formerly used as a counter-irritant for skinblisters, a diuretic and and an aphrodisiac. It is now an illegal substance in most countries)
- Alcohol – “preservative and valuable antiseptic” (and in this case, not meant to be ingested)
- Water / Perfume – “lavender, lemon and nerol.” (this must be some form of diluted down essential oil or possibly the hydosol from distillation of the essential oils)
This product’s promoters had an interesting way of proclaiming wonderful benefits to it’s customers without making any actual promises. The informational insert says it:
“Makes hair grow because it increases circulation of blood in the scalp and directly nourishes hair bulbs. But it will not do impossible things. It will not work contrary to any law of nature. We wish we could honestly say that Ayer’s Hair Vigor will grow hair on a bald head. But we cannot so state. No power in the world can make hair grow on an old thin shiny scalp. But if there is any life left in the hair bulbs it will stimulate them to do all they possibly can. Therefore we can only say that Ayer’s Hair Vigor will sometimes, but not always, make hair grow on bald heads. The only way to know is to try.”
Having covered the problem of balding, the pamphlet goes on to address graying hair and if not improving the condition, it at least makes you feel better about it, saying:
“While it prevents premature gray, it certainly will not prevent the gray and white hair which nature has declared should be a crown of beauty and dignity for ripe old age.”
The Ayer’s Co. had several other products including Cherry Pectoral, The Ague Cure, and Sarsaparilla which appeared around the mid 1800′s. Like many such companies the Ayer’s Co. promoted itself with almanacs that were filled with handy hints and profuse advertisements for it’s line of items.
Hair Care: What We Are Faced With “Today”
Unlike days a century ago, the average woman today can wear on her body over 500 chemicals every single day according to a recent study in the UK.
Even though today’s hair products do not contain Cantharides and Quinine we are still faced with ingredients that are very harmful to our health.
The UK study showed that of the 2,016 women polled, more than 70 percent said they were not concerned about the number of chemicals they put on their skin and only 1 in 10 opted for chemical-free products.
Additionally, more than 1/3 of the women in the study were unaware of the ingredients in their personal care products. And, only 9 percent were aware of most of the ingredients.
Although the study covered all kinds of personal care products (from deodorant to make-up, and lotions to hair products) I want to focus on hair care in this weeks newsletter so it’s more manageable. Hey, we all have to start somewhere, right!?
While we will never be able to completely eliminate every toxic chemical from our lives we can certainly ‘minimize’ them and their negative impacts to our health.
Moms will most likely want to be aware of this… the EWG (Environmental Working Group) tested 10 newborn babies for 413 chemicals, pollutants and pesticides (The Pollution in Newborns) and learned that the newborns were born polluted with hundreds of chemicals. This means that ‘we’ are carrying these toxic compounds in our bodies, whether we’re pregnant or not, female or male (men actually carry more in their bodies because of the types of work that are most associated with men).
The good news is that we do NOT have to have some of these toxins in our bodies at all, if we are conscious of what we’re doing and using – and – our exposure to others can be severely minimized with a little conscious effort.
I want to give you some homework this week, I want you to go into your bathroom and read the ingredients on the label. I know, it sounds like a drag and like I’m being a pain, especially if you think you know that your brand is natural and good for you… you’ll be shocked.
Have Hair Care Products Really Gotten Much Better? The Ingredients List…
- Parabens (Methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butyl-parabens)
- Coal Tar Colors (FC&C Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, D&C Red 33)
- Diethanolamine (cocamide DEA, TEA and MEA are related ingredients that can be contaminated with DEA)
- Nonoxynol or nonylphenol ethoxylate, phthalates (can be listed as DEHP, DHP, or DBP5 or hidden in “fragrance” Red 33)
- Diethanolamine (cocamide DEA, TEA and MEA are related ingredients that can be contaminated with DEA)
- Nonoxynol or nonylphenol ethoxylate
- Phthalates (can be listed as DEHP, DHP, or DBP5 or hidden in “fragrance”)(Phthalates are carcinogenic and hormone disruptors. Their purpose in products is to help lotions penetrate and soften the skin and are essential to scented products, and help fragrances last longer)
- DMDM hydantoin
- Sodum lauryl and laureth sulfates (in toothpaste too, yup, even all-natural ones – just look at the label!)
- Formaldehyde (considered a probable carcinogen by the U.S. EPA)
- Fragrance / Perfume (these consist mostly of chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs) (Calvin Klein’s Eternity by an independent lab, commissioned by Environmental Health Network (EHN), revealed that the perfume contained over 800 compounds)
- Anything with “glycol” or “methyl” as part of the name
Hidden Chemicals – Buyer Beware!
Just like companies are hiding MSG in processed foods (yes, even in natural and organics), personal care product companies are hiding their chemicals now too. For instance, Phthalates are rarely listed on labels, but when the EWG tested 72 products which did not list Phthalates it was discovered that almost 75 percent DID contain Phthalates.
What’s in the personal care products you’re buying?
Learn what’s in the personal care products you’re buying
Phthlate Exposure Impairs Testicular Function (feminization of boys)
Aggregate Exposures to Phthalates in Humans (PDF Report) (there’s little doubt in my mind that phthalates are the likely cause of reproductive problems in birds, reptiles, frogs and fish too. I suspect the only reason this chemical is not banned is because of the industry, it’s a very popular and commonly used ingredient)
As you may already know, we have tons of super easy recipes at our team blog on how to make all of your own household cleaning and personal care products using common kitchen ingredients and your essential oils – it is incredibly easy to make your own… not to mention EMPOWERING!
The Best Solution for Hair and Build-up on Hair, my testimonial
“By far the best shampoo and conditioner I have found is Young Living’s. My entire life I had to switch shampoo and conditioner brands every single month due to the residue and build-up they left n my hair.
It wasn’t until I tried Young Living’s Lavender Shampoo and Lavender Conditioner over 10 years ago that my switching brands monthly came to an end. That’s right, I went from an entire lifetime of switching brands every month to using the exact same shampoo and conditioner for over 10 years!” ~ Evelyn Vincent
The Benefit to Us
- NO undesired chemicals to ruin our health!
- NO synthetic fragrances – only Young Living Essential Oils scent these
- NO MORE switching brands every month – YAY!
- So concentrated that I have to add a little water to them
- Extremely economical – I have long hair and I have never used any other brand of shampoo or conditioner that lasted so long. I go through one bottle of shampoo about every 2 months – and – the conditioner, I buy 2-3 bottles a YEAR! I cannot tell you how much money I save by using the Young Living shampoo and conditioner – it adds up to a small fortune! if you’re not yet a wholesale customer I highly recommend that too, learn the facts about the advantages.
Young Living Shampoo and Conditioner for healthy hair care.
If you haven’t tried the Young Living shampoo and conditioner I highly recommend trying them now – you will be one step closer to getting some of those chemicals out of your life, a step closer to saving a small fortune, and a step closer to having really beautiful hair! You have no idea what you’ve been missing out on if you aren’t using these.
Lavender Volume Shampoo
Lavender Volume Conditioner
Lemon Sage Clarifying Shamoo
Lemon Sage Clarifying Conditioner
Rosewood Moisturizing Shampoo
Rosewood Moisturizing Conditioner
Get Young Living oils and products at: https://www.youngliving.org/theveryessence