Hair Gel Egyptian Style
If you think that hair gel is a modern invention, you are wrong. A Recent investigation of mummies by a team from the KNH Centre of Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester in the UK has proven that ancient Egyptians were using a fat-based hair gel over two thousand years ago.
The mummies in question come from a Greco Roman cemetery in the Dakhleh Oasis of the western Egyptian desert and are between 3500-2300 years old. A sample group of eighteen male and female individuals aged between 4-58 were selected. Some of the sample groups had been deliberately mummified in traditional Egyptian style while others were natural mummies. These mummies were people from a lower social stratum of Egyptian society who could not afford to be artificially preserved after death but were naturally preserved by desiccation in the arid desert conditions.
Of the eighteen, nine were found to have their hair coated in a fatty substance. These include natural as well as embalmed mummies. Based on this, the team concluded that the material on their hair was not part of the embalming process. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry showed that the substance contained palmitic and stearic acid. Although these compounds are also found in plants, the Manchester team believes they came from animals.
The hairstyles of the mummies were well preserved and very elaborate. Both natural and artificial female mummies sported carefully curled hair that held its style remarkably well. Curls were either long coils or short curls plastered onto the scalp. In both instances, the fatty substance seems to have stuck them in place. Likewise, the male mummies sported short, slicked-back hair- again held in place by the ‘hair gel.’ Whether plant or animal-based, this ancient hair gel was not just an elite fashion aid; Egyptians of all social classes used it.