Macassar oil

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An unknown young man at Herne Bay, Kent, England, dated 1903-1914 (his hair is plastered down with macassar oil)

Macassar oil is a compounded oil used primarily by men in Victorian and Edwardian times as a hair conditioner to groom and style the hair.[1]

Macassar oil is often made with coconut oil or palm oil or that of Schleichera oleosa,[2] combined with ylang-ylang oil (obtained by processing the flowers of the ylang-ylang tree, Cananga odorata) and other fragrant oils.[3]

Macassar oil was so named because it was reputed to have been manufactured from ingredients purchased in the port of Makassar in Indonesia.[4] The poet Byron called it "thine incomparable oil, Macassar."

Due to the tendency for the oil to transfer from a gentleman's hair to the back of his chair, the antimacassar was developed. This is a small cloth (crocheted, embroidered or mass-produced), placed over the back of a chair to protect the upholstery.[5]


  1. ^ "Men's Hair Care Lesson: How Conditioner Works". Retrieved 2014-06-22. 
  2. ^ Ghosh, P; Chakraborty, P; Mandal, A; Rasul, M G; Chakraborty, Madhumita; Saha, A (Mar–Apr 2011). "Triterpenoids from Schleichera oleosa of Darjeeling Foothills and Their Antimicrobial Activity". Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 73 (2): 231–233. PMC 3267311. Retrieved 2014-06-22. 
  3. ^ "Ylang-ylang essential oil information". 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2014-06-22. 
  4. ^ "Macassar Oil". Retrieved 2014-06-22. 
  5. ^ Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz 1836: Tales: Ch 4, The Tuggses at Ramsgate

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