Hi All –
Abby here and I am very pleased to release this weeks episode of Fashion History with American Duchess – “Hair, Hygiene, and the 18th Century Woman” – as it is the first of a 2 part series devoted to my favorite research subject on hair, hairstyles, hair products, hair care, etc in the 18th century.
|An oldey from my private Instagram account – a good shot of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of pomade and powdering your hair
It’s a subject I’ve been researching for about 4 years now, and while I’ve give some lectures at Costume Society of America, University of Alberta, and Costume College – this is really the first time I’ve been able to speak on this subject on such a public platform. I really hope you enjoy the episode & if you have any questions – please leave them in the comment section!
Here’s the summary of what Lauren and I chat about –
– How long I’ve been studying 18th century hair on an academic level.
– The basics of the hair products that were used in the 18th century (Pomatum/Pomade and Hair Powder). I also lament the difficulties in studying 18th century hair pins – ugh – so frustrating!
– What these products were made of (animal fat, starch, and other fun goodies!) and how they smell (like cookies.)
– How were the products used & what are some challenges with them (hint – follow instructions and don’t get your hair wet!)
|Miss Rattle dressing for the Pantheon, March 28 1772, Lewis Walpole Digital Collection, 772.03.28.01
– How long I did my ‘living experiment’ (1 year or so – give or take – and while I don’t use powder and pomade today in my hair care regime – I still only wash my hair about once or twice a week max.)
-How successful was powder and pomatum as a form of hair care/cleanliness. (Spoiler: I did not get lice, fleas, vermin, or suffer any scalp issues)
-We talk about how the use of powder and pomatum changes women’s hair texture and is amazing for fine haired girls like Lauren and me.
|My hair, dressed in a style from c. 1781 – You can see how much powder & pomatum (and backcombing!) I used for my side curls (or buckles). (From a post on my old blog Stay-ing Alive)
– We chat about why we think wigs are still so heavily associated with women in the 18th century though it seems that the standard practice was for men to wear full wigs, while women most commonly utilized pads, cushions, and false hair pieces. Wigs for women seemed to be used in very specific instances.
– Lauren and I have a massive giggle about the disaster that is getting your hair wet after pomatum and powder & my thoughts on the idea of washing hair in the 1700s –
– I rave about this PhD by Emma Markiweitz on Hair, Wigs, and the Hair Trade in the 18th century.
– I also address the myth about lice, fleas, vermin, etc from the 18th century. Let’s just say, it’s a pest peeve of mine (har har – see what I did there?) 😀
|The Lovely Sacarissa Dressing for the Pantheon, Feb 24, 1778, British Museum, J,1.150
So all sorts of fun stuff this week & don’t forget to tune in next week when we talk about different hair styles of women in the 18th century!
A Selection of Citations
I prefer to do most of my research through primary sources and will supplement with secondary. Here is a small selection of documentation that I’ve used through the course of my research.
A Treatise on the Hair, David Ritchie, 1770, Book
The Art of Hair – Dressing, Alexander Stewart, 1788, Book
The Natural Production of Hair, Alexander Stewart, 1795, Book
A Treatise on the Hair, Peter Giltchrist, 1770, Book
Toilet de Flora, Anon, 1770s, Book (Link is to a free version on GoogleBooks!)
Hair, Wigs and Wig Wearing in Eighteenth-Century England, Emma Markiewicz, PhD Thesis for University of Warwick