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Strange Ways People Have Dealt With Hair Loss Throughout History

Young Woman Worried of Hair Loss

Dealing with hair loss has never been easier. Surgical solutions exist that work wonderfully for patients willing to go under the knife, and for those who prefer non-surgical methods, well-made cranial prosthetics allow for a very natural appearance. However, hair loss treatment hasn't always been this accurate.

Hair loss and baldness have pained men and women for centuries. Throughout history, people have come up with some very interesting ways of either treating hair loss or camouflaging their ever-thinning scalps.

Chicken Urine and Pigeon Poop

You probably don't want pigeon poop in the same room as you, let alone on your head. However, if you lived in Greece in the days of Hippocrates, you might have treated hair loss with a mixture of pigeon poop, horseradish, opium, and beets to rub on your thinning hair. Perhaps the smell would have kept others from getting close enough to notice your baldness.

Hippocrates also supposedly had patients drink chicken urine as a treatment for hair loss. He may be known as the Father of Medicine, but he was a little off base with these supposed cures.

Hair in a Can

You can buy cheese, fruit, and tomatoes in cans, so why not hair? Also known as spray-on-hair, hair in a can was first popular in the 1980s. Infomercials for the product would run late at night and on Saturdays. The idea was that you could spray filaments made from paint onto your scalp, and the look of the filaments would mimic that of natural hair. Sadly, the results were not too realistic.

You can still buy hair in a can today, but presumably, more people buy it as a gag gift than as a serious hair loss remedy.

Hair Fertilizer

Fertilizer helps trees grow, so it should help hair grow, too - right? That is what the Sutherland sisters wanted everyone to believe in the mid-1800s. Born in western New York, these seven sisters became famous for their long, luxurious hair that reached to the floor. They used their locks to sell a hair tonic called Seven Southerland Sisters' Hair Grower.

The Seven Sutherland Sisters became somewhat of a sensation, touring the country to advertise their product and even appearing on Broadway in the 1880s. Unfortunately, the products were little more than snake oil. Good genetics was the true secret to the sister's long, flowing locks.


By the 1920s, society had thankfully moved past rubbing poop on heads in an attempt to cure baldness. The new sensation was the Thermocap, a product that promised to stimulate hair growth with heat and vibrations. The cap was really just a tall, lampshade-like device that heated with a simple light bulb. At least wearing the cap was a relaxing experience, though it did little to actually stimulate hair growth.

The Xervac

If heating and vibrating the scalp didn't make hair grow, maybe vacuum pressure would? That must have been the thought process of the inventors of the Xervac, a device that attempted to make hair grow via suction.

The Xervac was popular in the 1930s, and stars like Fred Astaire and George Gershwin apparently used this. It fit on the head like a big suction cup that you were supposed to wear for 15 to 30 minutes per day. Initially, marketers tailored the device to barber shops and doctors' offices, but then released a compact, at-home version in 1938. Sadly, neither version was terribly effective.

Thankfully, technology and medicine have come a long way since the ancient Greeks used pigeon droppings to treat hair loss. If you have hair loss or baldness in the 21st century, reach out to Hansen Fontana. We specialize in creating custom cranial prosthetics and will help you achieve your desired look without the need for a suction cup hat or hair in a can.