Did hair loss treatments from history work?

Toppik on 29 August 2016

The history of hair loss treatments is long and strange. Even the earliest human civilisations have come up with methods to stop to stop hair loss and promote regrowth. Most of these have been pretty weird and almost entirely ineffective.

But the good is that we've come a long way in recent years. In fact, hair loss treatments have progressed more in the last few decades than they have in the last few thousand years.

So here are some of the strangest treatments we could find from the past and a few modern treatments that actually work.

1. Hippocrates' treatment

Hippocrates baldness treatment

Hippocrates believed that baldness could be cured with a pigeon dropping mix.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Hippocrates, believed that baldness, including his own, could be cured with a combination of opium, horseradish, beetroot, pigeon droppings, and spices applied directly to the scalp. It didn't work.

While he may have been wrong about his concoction, he isn't regarded as the father of Western medicine for nothing. He noticed that eunuchs (men who were castrated at a young age) never went bald.

We now know that male pattern baldness is connected to hormones called androgens and castration would prevent this. This also means that Lord Varys from Game of Thrones chooses to shave his head.

2. Ancient Egyptian cures

Ancient egyptian baldness treatments

The ancient egyptians thought baldness could be cured with crocodile and hippo fats.

Egypt was one of the most advanced cultures of the ancient world. They produced wonders that can still be seen today, from the pyramids to their mummification techniques for preserving the dead.

Their medicine was very advanced for the time as well. But when it came to hair loss, they missed the mark.

According to Ebers Papyrus, an ancient medical text, you can cure baldness with a combination of fats from a hippopotamus, crocodile, tomcat, snake, and ibex.

If that didn't work, the text has a number of other suggestions, but we don't suggest trying them.

3. Laurel wreaths

Laurel wreath

Julius Caesar found laurel wreaths to be the most successful in covering his baldness.

Throughout history, laurel wreaths have been used as a symbol of victory and achievement. But Julius Caesar of ancient Rome found that they were also very useful for covering his baldness. He also tried a range of other weird mixtures before resorting to the laurel wreaths.

Not only were laurel wreaths more effective for covering his baldness, but they have the added bonus of letting you congratulate yourself on your achievements all the time.

4. Snake oil

Snake oil hair loss treatments

Snake oil baldness ointments didn't contain any snake oil or cure baldness.

The idea of the "snake oil salesman" arose in America in the 19th century. They were basically con artists who claimed that their ointments could cure any number of ailments, including baldness.

One of the most popular products, Stanley's Snake Oil, was tested by the United States government in 1917 and found not to have any snake extract at all.

This is probably a good thing, when you think about it, but it also didn't live up to its claims either.

5. French psychologist Émile Coué

Emile Coue hair loss treatments

Émile Coué, believed hair loss could be cured with positive thinking. Photo credit: Wikipedia

If only it were as easy as this! French psychologist, Émile Coué, believed that positive thinking was all you needed to cure hair loss.

It was part of his method of psychotherapy and self-improvement which was based on optimism and autosuggestion.

While his methods had some (although disputed) effectiveness for a range of psychological issues, it didn't do much for hair loss.

What actually works

These days, you have a few more options for hair treatments. What's even better is that they actually work, and they don't involve weird mixtures going on your head.

Here are two products that work:

Toppik Hair Building Fibres – These are tiny fibres made from keratin, the same natural protein that your hair is made of. A small static charge makes the fibres cling to your existing hair to make it look thicker and fuller, diminishing the appearance of hair loss.

Find out more about how Toppik fibres work.

Minoxidil Hair Loss Treatment – Minoxidil is one of the only hair loss treatments that has been clinically tested and shown to prevent hair loss and promote the growth of new hair. It has been used as a hair loss treatment since the 1980s and works by promoting blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles.

Find out more about how minoxidil works.

For styling products and hair loss treatments that work, check out our range of products.