Bear fat: pharmacy’s first leave-in conditioner

In the first of a new photo series exploring highlights from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society museum, the curatorial team present an unusual treatment for hair loss.

Creamware advertising model for Bears Grease, Staffordshire, 1799–1818

Bear’s grease became a popular hair-restoring pomade during the second half of the 1700s, when the wearing of wigs fell out of fashion. Originally made from bear fat and perfumed with rose otto, Bear’s grease was applied to the hair in the belief that it both revived and strengthened hair growth.

During the early 1800s, James Atkinson advertised his Bear’s grease in chemist and druggist shops through the production of ceramic show bears. This one depicts a polar bear standing in an icy landscape.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2017, Vol 299, No 7903;299(7903):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203201