Macassar oil

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A 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" in the first canto of Don Juan, and Lewis Carroll also mentions "Rowland's Macassar Oil" in the poem "Haddocks' Eyes" from Through the Looking-Glass.

Due to the tendency for the oil to transfer from the user'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. doi:10.4103/0250-474x.91568. PMC 3267311. PMID 22303070. 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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