Hair Pomade

Tales and Treasures from the rich legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Written by Beverley Tallon

December 21, 2011

In the early nineteenth century, hair pomade was a fashionable item used by men to keep their locks neat and shiny.

This James Atkinson brand from London, England, was made of bear grease. A chained bear graced its lid, possibly to indicate man’s dominance over animals. Bear grease was a common pomade ingredient and was said to be useful as a hair restorative.

Priced at two shilling six pence, bear fat was one of the many commodities the Hudson’s Bay Company bought and sold. Like many items manufactured today, the raw product was sent out of the country to be processed, and then returned to Canada to be sold.

By the twentieth century, bears became more difficult to obtain and the grease was replaced by beeswax, lard, or petroleum jelly.

This article originally appeared in the August-September 2011 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

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