1940s hair products

Updated April 17, 2017

While no one had ever heard of mousse, people of the 1940s were still putting plenty of product into their hairs. Some of the products used, especially those for men, still exist today. While they may not be as high-profile or popular, hair care items like Brylcreem have proven long-lasting.


Brylcreem has been around as a men's hair product for nearly 100 years. Started in 1928, Brylcreem was a popular product in both the United States and Great Britain, spawning a part of notable marketing messages. One was the Brylcreem slogan: "A Little Dab Will Do Ya." The other was the Brylcreem Boy in Britain, which used British sports stars to tout the product. The product has a mineral oil and beeswax base to give hair hold and a wet look.

Vitalis Hair Tonic

Bristol-Myers put a lot of stock in Vitalis Hair Tonic in 1938 when the company decided to start advertising new products directly to the public. Prior to that time, Vitalis had been available in barbershops and used in individual portions. Vitalis is an alcohol-based hair care product that was marketed against more greasy appearing products like Brylcreem. Vitalis Hair Tonic was also said to contain "greaseless grooming discovery V7."

Murray's Pomade

Murray's Pomade was a product originally sold to African-Americans that began in 1925 when Chicago barber shop owner C.D. Murray began selling it out of his business. In 1947, as his product was booming, Murray said this, as quoted by the company website: "The Murray's Superior Products Company's cosmetics have outlived a score of big names that blazed high for awhile and died quickly." The Pomade is thick and oily, but can hold hair for a long time.

Wildroot Cream Oil

Wildroot Cream Oil was a popular hair oil in the 1940s. The company began in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1911 and soon became a national product advertised on radio programs like, "The Fearless Fosdick." Eventually Wildroot Cream Oil was bought by Colgate-Palmolive in 1959 and again by the Stephens Company in 1995. Unlike other vintage hair products, Wildroot has a thin consistency thanks to its main ingredient of lanolin.

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About the Author

Mike Koehler is a full-time public relations and new media strategist. He has 15 years of experience as a reporter, editor and journalist. He has spoken across the country about the intersection of journalism, social media and the Web. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and three kids. Koehler has written for,,,, and