Every one who is observing of the peculiarities of fashion, Must have noticed the increase of golden hair displayed in such profusion by the belles upon the promenades and elsewhere. It has been a subject much discussed and considerable curiosity has been displayed in regard to the way in which the thing is accomplished. It is quite plain that some artificial means must be employed. Mr. Henry Matthews, F. C. S., has been letting the cat out of the bag ; in the London Chemist and Druggist he gives the results of some analyses of " Golden Hair Fluids," and for the benefit of our fair readers, as well as the curious of the male sex, we transcribe them. 1. AURICOMUS OR GOLDEN FLUID. This, to quote from its label and bills, " though harmless as pure water, has the astonishing power of quickly imparting a rich golden flaxen shade to hair of any color. Unlike other preparations, it has neither spirit nor alkali in its composition," etc. The auricomus is a clear, colorless fluid, smelling slightly of nitric acid, this odor being almost overcome by the perfume which the mixture contains. It certainly does not contain any alkali, inasmuch as its reaction is strongly acid; and it consists entirely of dilute nitro-hydrochloric acid, the non-volatile constituents not amounting to one grain in a bottle containing 2*25 fluid ounces, which, upon analysis, furnished 0*955 grains of actual hydrochloric acid (HC1); corresponding to 23*3 minims of the acidum nitro-hydrochloricum dilutum of the British Pharmacopoeia, or 10*35 minims of dilute acid in one fluid ounce of mixture. 2. robare's aureoline. According to the label this is " free from all objectionable qualities," etc. The name of this preparation appears to have been borrowed from that of the well-known golden yellow pigment introduced and manufactured by a celebrated firm of artists' color manufacturers in Rathbone-place. The Aureoline, like the Auricomus, is a colorless fluid having a strongly acid reaction and an odor of nitric acid, which the amount of perfume used does not conceal, and it also consists of dilute nitro-hydrochloric acid; a bottle containing 3*75 fluid ounces furnishing 1*74 grains of actual hydrochloric acid, an amount equivalent to 42-4 minims of dilute nitro-hydrochloric acid of the Pharmacopoeia, or .11-3 minims of the dilute acid in one fluid ounce of Aureoline. 3. nicoll's golden tincture. The label of this article has the merit of not making any professions as to the perfect harmlessness of its ingredients, simply stating that it is " for giving a brilliant golden shade to hair of any color." This preparation, like the preceding, is a colorless fluid, but containing a very slight deposit, smelling of nitric acid, and having a strongly acid reaction, consisting of dilute nitro-hydrochloric acid, together with a trace of sulphuric acid, the amount of non-volatile constituents being inconsiderable. A bottle containing 2 fluid ounces gave 05 grains of actual hydrochloric acid, corresponding to 12*1 minims of the dilute nitro-hydrochloric acid of the Pluwmacopmia, or equal to 6 minims of the dilute acid to one fluid ounce of the compound. 4. ROSS'S SOL AURINE. On the wrapper of this we are told that " The production of a preparation which shall imitate nature in its loveliest aspect with regard to that tint of hair so fashionable in ancient classic ages," etc., " and which shall at the same time be harmless, has been a desideratum," and the reader or purchaser is left to infer that the said " desideratum " has been attained in the " Sol Aurine." The Sol Aurine, which has a "strongly acid reaction and smells most distinctly of nitric acid, is a clear, colorless fluid, containing a considerable amount of a transparent gelatinous deposit." Like the other preparations examined, it consists principally of dilute nitro-hydrochloric acid, the transparent deposit consisting of precipitated silica. A bottle holding 2*5 fluid ounces furnished 2*77 grains of anhydrous hydrochloric acid, corresponding to 67*2 minims of the acidum nitro-hydrochloricum dilutum, B. P., or equal to 26*8 minims of Pharma-copcda acid per fluid ounce of Sol Aurine. Other than the de-posite of silicious hydrate before mentioned, the non-volatile constituents were inappreciable in amount, and were, as in the other fluids examined, such as would be evidently due to the use of either common water or impure acids in the preparation of the washes. In conclusion Mr. Matthews remarks: " There is little doubt that all of the above preparations would effect the purpose for which they were intended, the principal agent in all of them being the nitric acid, the effect of which is possibly aided by the bleaching power of the very small portion of nascent chlorine derived from the decomposition of the hydrochloric acid by the nitric acid. " With regard to their use being safe or otherwise I am not prepared to speak positively, but I have been informed by a medical friend, Mr. Charles Matthews, of Southampton-street, Strand, that he has, in the course of his practice, been called upon to attend ladies who, by the incautious use of golden hair fluids, had produced burns from portions of the fluid falling upon their necks and shoulders. " I am, however, bound to say that I was unable, with any of the preparations mentioned above, to produce even a slight stain upon the skin; but, as of course, I could only experiment upon myself, I cannot say what might be the effect on the whiter and more delicate surface of the necks and shoulderg of the fairer sex. " In conclusion, I would observe that, as far as the prepara tions examined are concerned, it is satisfactory to find that they contain no compounds of antimony or arsenic.”
This article was originally published with the title "How Golden Hair is Obtained"