1. During medieval times, hair washing was about as important (or not) as bathing.
The wealthy — because their finances allowed them to afford the collection of clean water, servants, and the time to indulge more often in such luxuries as bathing and hair washing — washed their hair more frequently than peasant classes.
2. In spite of flowing finances, many royal kings, queens, and those in the noble classes, washed their hair only a few times per year. They preferred instead to wear crowns, hats, and headdresses.
In place of washing, powder was used to soak up scalp oils & attempt to suffocate head lice.
3. For all classes of medievals, hair washing was done infrequently enough that “itch-mites” were very common. There were special remedies for dealing with hair bugs, but actually washing the hair was rarely among them.
To daintily scratch their lice-crawling, itchy scalps, royal & noble class women slid a pin between their cleavage. These pins were made of bone or metal, and were fairly long, very thin & had pointed tips to enable scalp scratching through wigs & headdresses.
4. Hair washing was done by sitting a large bowl on the floor, stripping to the waist, then leaning over the bowl to perform the task. Shampoos as we know them did not exist. Rather, a thick mixture of ashes, vine stalks & egg whites was most commonly used to cleanse the hair.
5. A worldwide acceptance of “shampooing” did not begin until the early 1800’s. It was spearheaded by a Bengali Muslim named Sake Dean Mahomet.
Mahomet & his wife opened the first commercial “shampooing vapour masseur bath” in England. He was eventually appointed “Shampooing Surgeon” to European kings & queens.
How often do you wash your hair?
Which medieval fact could you live without?