Hair Dyes. (because someone asked.)

The practice of artificially changing the colour of the hair, and particularly dyeing it, has descended to us from remote antiquity; and though not so common in western Europe as formerly, is still far from infrequent at the present day.

The Toilet and Cosmetic Arts in Ancient and Modern Times with a review of the Different Theories of Beauty and Copious Allied Information Social, Hygenic and Medical Arnold J. Cooley. Originally Published 1866, Reprinted 1970, Burt Franklin

The practice of artificially changing the colour of the hair, and particularly dyeing it, has descended to us from remote antiquity; and though not so common in western Europe as formerly, is still far from infrequent at the present day.This might be inferred from the multitude of nostrums for the purpose continually advertised in the newspapers, and from the number of persons who announce themselves as practising the art, even though the keen and experienced eye did not frequently detect instances of it, as it now does, in the hair and beards of those we see around us. The recent rage after light auburn and reddish hair, in fashionable life has, unfortunately, greatly multiplied these instances.

To change the colour of the hair, various methods and preparations are employed...

Bismuth, lead, copper and two or three other metals, are each capable of darkening the hair by displacing the iron, or, rather, acting as a substitute for it, and are thus employed in some of the fashionable hair-dyes.

To gradually darken the shade of the hair, on these principles, provided its normal sulphur be still secreted by the hair-bulbs, and be still present in its structure, will, therefore, generally be sufficient to occasionally employ a weak solution of any of the milder salts of iron [As the sulphate, acetate, lactate or protiodide. The addition of a very little glycerin is useful, and indeed necessary, when the last salt is employed.] as a hair wash. The menstruum may be water, to which a little spirit, and a few drops of oil of rosemary, to increase its stimulating properties, have been added... Wine is the favorite solvent for the iron in fashionable life; ale and beer have also been employed. Most of the fashionable ferruginous hair-washes also contain a few grains of acetate of copper or distilled verdigris, the objections to which have been already pointed out.

The daily use of oil, or pomatum, with which a few grains of carbonate of lead, lead-plaster, or trisnitrate of bismuth, have been blended by heat and careful trituration, has generally a like effect on the hair to ferruginous solutions; so also has a leaden comb, but its action is very uncertain... [T]he desired effect may often be produced by also moistening the head (say) twice a week, with water to which a little sulphuret of potassium, or hydrosulphuret of ammonia, has been added.

When it is desired to dy or darken the hair more rapidly, as in a few hours, or even a few minutes, plumbite of lime, plumbite of potassa, or nitrate or ammonio nitrate of silver is usually employed. The first is commonly produced by the admixture of quick-lime with oxide of lead (litharge), carbonate of lead, or acetate of lead. [rather lengthy discussion of effects]... Should the tint imparted by them not be deep enough, or be too fiery, it may be darkened and turned on the brown or black by moistening the hair the next day with a very weak solution of sulphuret of potassium or of hydrosulphuret of ammonia...

The salts of silver above referred to are more rapid in their action as hair-dyes than those containing lead... Sunlight will fully darken it in a few minutes; but in diffused daylight it will take two or three hours, or longer to acquire its deepest shade. To avoid this delay and inconvenience, the common practice is, a few minutes after applying the silver solution, to moisten or wet the hair with a weak solution of sulphuret of potassium or of hydrosulphuret of ammonia. The effect is immediate...

It will be useful here to inform the inexperienced reader, that all solutions and compounds which contain nitrate of silver, stain the skin as well as the hair, if they be allowed to touch it. [some instructions for removal].

Pyrogallic acid, the juice of walnuts, and some other substances and preparations. .. also stain the skin...

... the shades given by preparations of iron and bismuth range from dark brown to black; those given by the salts of silver, from a fine natural chestnut to deep brown and black, all of which are rich and unexceptionable; those given by pyrogallic acid, rich browns of various shades; as are also those imparted by walnut juice, though less rich and warm. The shades given by lead vary from reddish brown and auburn to black; and when pale or when the dye has been badly applied or compounded, are generally of a sandy reddish hue, often far from agreeable. However, this tendency of the lead-dyes has recently led to their extensive use to impart that peculiar tint to the light hair of ladies and children which is now so fashionable.

The hair, or portions of it, particularly that of the face, is sometimes temporarily darkened by what may be called "painting" it. This is done by smearing a black or colored stick of hard pomatum or cosmetique over it until the desired effect is given to it, and then slightly diffusing the colour over the surface with a brush.