26 MAY 1866, Page 10


ARE wigs immoral ?—because if not, one scarcely perceives a reason why the newspaper moralists who are so fond of des- cribing Anonyma and Cora Pearl with a kind of reprehensive voluptuousness of detail, should waste so much moral strength in denouncing the practice of using hair dyes. It is not much wickeder, one would think, in itself, than wearing false teeth, or scattering powder, or padding, and all those sins have hitherto escaped with very lenient censure from the newspaper pulpit. Hair powder, it is true, since it became a taxable offence has been condemned as nasty, which it is, and ugly, which, as any one will acknowledge who has ever seen an old minuet at the opera, it de- cidedly is not. It suited bright faces very well, though it made the pallid ghastly, and its disappearance, though a gain to cleanliness, was a loss to that variety of appearance which is the greatest ex- ternal charm of society. People, footmen excepted, have forgotten powder, but they have not forgotten adornments as deceitful as the hair dyes against which they are so amusingly and unintelli- gibly indignant. The practice of using them is not a novel one. Women, and men too, have dyed their hair from time immemorial, and there has not been an interval within the last three centuries during which hairdressers have not employed pigments to conceal greyness, whiteness, or eccentricity of colour in the hair. The only thing new is the fashionable shade, and the introduction of that shade is in one way a very distinct gain. It has restored the popular faith in the possible beauty of light-haired women. The condition of public opinion upon that subject has for years past been almost a marvel. That a people essentially Northern, among whom five persons in six have hair tinged with some shade of light brown, should prefer black hair is perhaps natural, for infrequency always increases the piquancy of admiration. Ori- entals, on the same principle, admire fair hair and excessive light- ness of complexion, and one African race, the Somali, stains its black wool with henna and lime till it is of a dull brick-dust hue. But the English horror of light hair in women was almost comical in its intensity, so deep as to affect literature and penetrate the opinions of the uncultivated mass. One shade of red, that false auburn which is red in the sun and brown under artificial light, was tolerated, chiefly, we imagine, because fashionable opinion is formed under chandeliers ; but the true auburn, which has a golden flash in it under the sun and a red flash only by candle light, the auburn which the Italian painters loved three centuries ago, and Millais can paint now when he will let his imagination work as well as his eyes, was utterly condemned, all the more viciously perhaps because that is the shade in which hair is found most voluminous and silky. Men's judgment was acidulated by the admixture of the one envy which the best women can never quite suppress. Flaxen hair, even that wonderful flax which suggests an aureole, and which—probably from its association with the appearance of little children—conveys an indefinable impression of innocence, for which Thackeray gave it to Becky Sharp, was disposed of summarily as " tow." Golden hair, we mean the true gold, looking as if it had been spun not from any metal, so much as from a sunny topaz, was first called "conspicuous," and then, when bands became universal, "sandy." That colour is perhaps the only one to which curls are essential, just as black is the only one in which curls can never be most becoming. As to the different shades of red, the language was ransacked to find terms of abhorrence which should be sufficiently expressive, and while the costermonger asked some- body "to put out that 'ere bonnet, it must be burning by now," the peer summed up his dislike in the emphatic word "Carrots!" So deep was the disgust for this shade that it extended even to men's heads. Nobody ever suggested that men with fair hair could not be handsome, or denied that the highest Norman type, the tall, fair-haired, steel-eyed, light-complexioned man, was the ideal type of all, but everybody professed to abominate red. Hundreds of schoolboys have had their lives rendered miserable by a shade too much of the hated colour, and grave remonstrances have been addressed to the managersof Christ's Hospital against their uniform, on the ground that the sun by some mysterious process would turn brown hair red. The sun, if the evidence of fact may be trusted, either blackens hair, which seems impossible, or induces the race which live under its beams to produce the black hair which most effectually protects the head. No tropical race is light-haired. Part of the objection to red hair no doubt arose from the ugly coin-

plexion, and freckles, and turned up uase by which it is often ac- companied, but the aversion was felt and expressed even in cases where red hair was only the natural complement of very regular

beauty-. The new fashion therefore of dyeing hair to lighten its

colour, instead of dyeing it to darken it, strikes right athwart a national prejudice, so clearly athwart, that while it has restored people to the use of their senses in judging colour, it has also raised an absurd shout of moral reprobation. Dyeing may be immoral possibly, but dyeing red cannot be more immoral than dyeing black. The world does not greatly condemn a fair woman whose beauty is spoiled by untimely greynesss for removing the blemish—feel- ing, though not acknowledging, that beauty is a gift which it is as right to preserve as health or eyesight—and if white hair may be made black, surely brown may be made golden. At all events it is made every day, and if those who make it would only remember that the golden locks of Flavin, who has a cheek like a peach and a brow of milk—not of alabaster, 0 minor poet ! healthy flesh never being absolutely bleached—will not necessarily suit Lalage, who has a face carved out of Derbyshire cheese and a forehead which cannot tan, the golden hair would add to the grace and variety of assemblies.

So rapid has been the spread of this fashion that the resources -of chemistry have been ransacked for dyes, and we have before us a huge volume of receipts for the production of almost any shade. They are all very nasty—nastiness is the real objection to hair dyes, as it is to rouge and chignons, and is not to false teeth—and all subject to one fatal defect. They do not change the inherent colour of the hair, which grows every moment as it was originally made ; the pigments therefore must be incessantly reapplied, and the hair, instead of being dyed, as, for instance, a topaz is dyed by burning, is only painted, by no means a very pleasing idea. One would think it prima' fade possible to make • a radical change, the colouring matter being an oil held as it were in a tube, and impregnated with substances the character of which has been discovered. According to Mr. Cooley, "The -chemical constitution of the hair was first made known by Mr. Hatchet% who showed it to consist chiefly of indurated albumen, together with a little gelatine, or matter that yields it. Soft and very flexible hair is said to contain the most gelatine. Sub- acquently, Vauquelin discovered that hair contains two different

kinds of oily matter—the one white and bland, common to all .liair; the other, coloured, and on which in part the particular colour of the hair depends. He also found small and variable -quantities of mineral substances in hair. In light-coloured hair he found magnesia, and in black and dark hair iron and sulphur.

It is the presence of these last that mainly gives to dark hair its -colour. Fur, wool, bristles, and spines, in their chemical nature, structure, and mode of formation, resemble hair ; as -also, to a very great extent, do the feathers of birds." We ought, if that is correct, and we knew how, to be able to feed people into hair of the wished-for colour, but then we do not know how, and so are driven back on devices many of which are dangerous or disagreeable. It is easy enough and safe enough to darken the colour. A weak solution of acetate -of iron dissolved in water and mixed with a little glycerine will, if rubbed daily into the head, gradually and permanently darken the hair and benefit the health besides, a hint we recommend to red- haired beauties when popular prejudice turns against them again, as it will one day. Lead, often used instead of iron, is as dangerous a substance as it is well possible to employ, and the lead comb lin which our grandmothers trusted is of very uncertain efficacy. There is no swift mode which does not involve the use of lead or ailver to a dangerous extent, and no safe mode except iron, or -sometimes after a certain age iron and sulphuret of potassium, which restores the decreasing sulphur. In any case, too, under .any temptation, the woman who tries to change the colour of her .eyelashes is a fool, who risks for nothing penalties which may embitter an entire life. For lightening the hair the following is .said to be the formula most in use, and is when the lime is applied a little too lavishly as ingenious a device for injuring the head .as ingenuity has yet discovered :—

" Take of

Carbonate of lead 1 ounce ; Litharge (pure ; levigated) 1 of each, Hydrated oxide of bismuth ******** 1 it ounce; Fresh slaked lime 2 ounces; Distilled or soft water 1 pint; boil, with -constant stirring, for 30 or 40 minutes. When cold, pour the whole into a wide-mouthed bottle, add of Liquor of ammonia (.880-882) 2 fluid draohms ;

put in the cork, and shake frequently for some hours. The next day pour off the liquid portion. The sediment, which forms the dye, must

then be well stirred together, and again before use. It is to be applied for 8 to 10 minutes to produce an auburn colour ;' 15 minutes, for chestnut ;Z 20 minutes, for full brown ;' and 30 minutes, or longer, for 'deep brown' and 'black.' For the paler shades it is to be washed off with water containing a little common soda.

(' Liquid Plumbic Dye.') Take of Hydrated protoside of load ounce ;

Liquor of potassa .2 fluid ounces ; mix in a stoppered phial, and agitate it frequently for some days. It must be used more or less diluted, according to the object in view. By its skilful application, every shade, from a pale sandy red' to dark brown,' may be produced ; and these may be turned on the golden brown,' 'auburn,' and chestnut,' by subsequently moistening the hair with a weak solution of sulphuret of potassium or hydrosalphuret of ammonia.

Instantaneous hair dyeing is dffected by-washing the hair in a solu- tion of nitrate of silver, and then in a mixture of hydrosulphuret of ammonia and distilled water, which acts as a mordant, when the hair instantly tarns either brown or black. It is, however, on the golden shades that intellect has been recently chiefly expended, and here is a list which includes every colour except one—the golden bronze—which is caused by washing with a solution of blue vitriol, followed by another of the ferrocyanide of potassium.

"A strong infusion of safflowers, or a solution of pure rouge, in a weak solution of crystallized carbonate of soda, gives a bright red,' like henna, or a reddish yellow," according to its strength, if followed, when dry, by a 'mordant' of lemon juice or vinegar dilated with one- half to an equal bulk of water.

"An acidulated solution of a salt of antimony, followed by a weak 'mordant' of neutral hydrosulphuret of ammonia or the bisulphuret, carefully avoiding excess, gives a red turning on the orange,' which tones well on light brown hair.

"A solution of sulphantimoniate of potassa (Schlippe's salt) with a mordant of water slightly acidulated with sulphuric acid, given a bright orange red' or 'golden red colour.'

"Golden Yellow.—A solution of bichloride of tin (suf3lciently dilated), followed by a 'mordant' of hydrosulphuret of ammonia, gives a rich 'golden yellow tint' to very light hair, and a 'golden brown' to darker hair, owing to the formation of aurum mtusivum, mosaic gold, or bisul- phuret of tin.

"A solution of acetate or nitrate of lead, followed by a 'mordant' of yellow chromate of potash, gives a brilliant rich golden yellow.' If wanted 'warmer' or deeper toned,' a few drops of solution of dia- cetate of lead (Geulard's extract) should be aided to the acetate solution.

"A solution of pure annotta, obtained by boiling it in water slightly alkalized with carbonate of soda, or with salt of tartar, gives a golden yellow' or 'flame yellow,' according to its strength, to very pale hair, and corresponding tones to darker hair. A previous 'mordant' of alum water 'deepens' it ; and a subsequent washing with water soured with lemon juice or vinegar 'reddens' it, or turns it on the 'orange.'"

Henna, by the way, is unobjectionable, and never fails, so that if any woman really wishes for bright red hair she has only to make friends with some attaché of the embassy at Constantinople or with Mr. Layard. We must add that there is now sold in Paris a dye which instantly changes white or flaxen hair into the most glorious gold, which is nearly instantaneous, and never fails, or can fail. It is called orpiment, is the golden sulphuret of arsenic, and has only one trifling drawback, which those who want it pro- bably will not mind. It kills, just as inevitably and as swiftly as doses of arsenic would.