Old Wives’ Tales

Over the coming months I hope to be exploring some of these ‘old wives’ tales’ in detail. They were not old wives’ tales then but just accepted ways of dealing with problems. With hair that now needs finding rather than brushing we’ll start with one old saying that I remember from my Nan. She had quite long, grey, hair and I can remember sitting watching her brush it – something that seemed to take her an age. ‘You should brush your hair 100 times before you go to bed each night’ she would say. Does it work? Well it did for her – but what’s the basis of this habit? In Victorian times ladies of all social level tended to wear their hair long but wash it infrequently. What they did do, though, was brush it for ages each night. Nan used to sit there holding her hair out and stroking it steadily with her hair brush from root to tip.  She never seemed to use a comb – just a brush. She had three of them actually, and which one she used depended on the state of her hair. Whichever she used Nan’s hair was always lovely. How did this ‘work’? Modern knowledge tells us that the brushing enabled ‘sebum’ – a fatty secretion that lubricates both hair and skin – to spread along the hair strands, keeping them looking shiny and clean. The Institute of Trichologists suggest that this is still a very good habit to follow – particularly for those, male or female, that have longer hair. It is important, though, that you use a soft bristle brush and work from root to tip. Me? After reading this my scraggy toothed comb can move to one side and a soft brush will be found. That is, of course, after I have found enough hair to justify it!



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