Hair Loss & Hair Treatment Throughout the Ages – Where Trichology Began

120 Years of the IOT

As you may know, this year marks 120 years of the Institute of Trichologists, which was founded as the College of Diseases of Hair in 1902. In celebration of this, the Institute are taking a look back, and conducting a review of History and Historical Treatments, where Trichology came from and how it all began, where we are now, and where it’s going to. In a selection of blogs we will be looking at hair loss and hair treatments throughout the ages, and how Trichology has developed in the incredible industry that it is today.


Where Trichology Began

It is safe to say that for many individuals, our hair can define who we are. It is unique to everyone, our crowning glory and is something that everyone sees, and we all want to keep it! Throughout the ages, there have been many attempts at different cures and treatments for hair loss, some have lead into the development of the vastly successful treatments we use today, and others not so successful.

Ancient Egyptians

There are medical texts dating back to the ancient Egyptians in 1550 B.C. using various different methods to prevent hair loss, such as fats from a hippo, crocodile, tomcat, snake and ibex; porcupine hair boiled in water and applied to the scalp; and even the leg of a female greyhound sautéed in oil with the hoof of a donkey and being rubbed on the scalp. When these methods weren’t as successful as they had hoped, many ancient Egyptians also wore wigs and hair extensions too.

Ancient Greeks

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who was often referred to as the father of Western medicine, suffered Male Pattern Hair Loss himself. He produced and prescribed a topical concoction of opium, horseradish, pigeon droppings, beetroot and spices. Hippocrates also conceived a radical treatment for hair loss after noticing that eunuchs never went thin on top. This is one of the hair loss treatments that wasn’t so popular.

The Romans

Even in the Roman period, Julius Caesar suffered with hair loss, and he tried everything to reverse this hair loss. He was the first to introduce the comb-over, where he grew his thinning hair so it was longer in the back, and brushed it over his scalp to cover his thinning hair. Cleopatra recommended a home remedy for his hair loss, consisting of ground-up mice, horse teeth and bear grease. When these hair loss remedies didn’t work, the Roman dictator took to covering his scalp with a laurel wreath, which was really the start of hair additions leading to hair pieces.


The Development of Hair Loss Remedies

Since then, added hair has been used for a vast variety of different things. From the 17th century right up to today, added hair has been used to cover thinning hair or hair loss. Wigs, Facial hair, Hair Additions and Hair Extensions have all been used in many different ways in order to enhance the wearers existing hair.

A family of sideshow performers, known as the 7 Sunderland Sisters, with thick, luscious long hair launched their Miraculous Hair Grower known as Barry’s Tricopherous, which was founded in 1801.  Since it was launched, Snake Oil Salesmen jumped on this opportunity to try and sell anything and everything to preserve and grow your hair.  Barry’s Tricopherous was even still being sold as a hair loss remedy in America right up to the late 1970’s.

In 19th-century England, people who were suffering from thinning hair would rub “cold India tea” and hunks of lemon into their scalps. Not surprisingly, the results of this were very underwhelming.  But at least you could enjoy the tea!


The Foundation of the Institute of Trichologists

Moving on from ancient remedies to the development of Trichology more how we know it today, the Institute of Trichologists was founded in London in 1902 as the College of Diseases of Hair. The foundation of the College of Diseases of Hair was all about sharing the available knowledge and really being able to advance he hair science sector.

In 1923, the first Hair and Scalp hospital opened for the public, and today The Institute of Trichologists is still based in London, educating and promoting Trichology, and running our own Trichology clinic.