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The worst men's grooming trends of all time

By Matthew Bell, Esquire
updated 10:28 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
The Evans vacuum cap The Evans vacuum cap
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
Bad decisions in men's grooming
  • Men have worried about hair and odor for ages
  • Syphilitic men started a wig-wearing trend in the 16th century
  • Before beard implants there were stick-on beards

(Esquire) -- Evans vacuum cap/Crosley Xervac head vacuum

When: Early 1900s

Baldness sucks, but it did so just a little bit more at the turn of the 20th century, with the promise of this product. By suctioning your head three to four minutes a day, it promised to de-clog the congested blood that was causing hair to fall out. The FDA Act of 1906 that began to regulate cosmetics put a halt to the product catching on, but the concept was periodically rehashed up till the 1950s.

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Jheri curl

When: 1970s and 1980s

Back in the day, if you wanted to sport your curls correctly, the most popular style was only achieved with a chemical grease that made it look like your hair was always sweating. Unless you were in the movie "Coming to America," then you used Soul Glo.

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When: Roman Empire

Ah, those crazy Romans. They could build aqueducts that spanned Europe to bring far-flung water to multi-level baths with saunas and heated pools. But they couldn't wrap their heads around soap, which historians believe the Babylonians invented 2000 years prior. Instead, they cleaned by slathering on scented oils and then scraped them off using this curved metallic tool.

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When: 1942

A vibrating brush that promised to stop dandruff, scalp itch, and make men's hair more attractive was probably itself more attractive to women during WWII America than any head of hair.

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A nasty syphilis outbreak sometime around 1520 started the trend of Perukes, or male wig-wearing. Turns out guys in 16th century Europe really didn't want everyone to know that their syphilis had left them bald, so, you know, they just put a wig on it and hoped for the best.

Perukes were long to cover open sores and powdered to mask unsavory smells. Oh, what a glorious time to be alive! They later became a fashion statement, making it all the way up to the French and British royalties. Syphilis wasn't cured until the early 20th century, but the French Revolution and a British tax on wig powder effectively killed the peruke by 1800.

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Original mum

When: 1890s-1940s

The very first deodorant was a cream applied with fingertips. It was a technological step toward a better smelling tomorrow but just too messy.

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Macassar oil

When: 1830s-1920s

Today, "Mac asshole" is used to refer to people obsessed with their Apple computers. One hundred-fifty years ago, we presume it was used to describe men who styled their hair with Macassar oil, the first conditioning/styling product for men's hair. This is so because while it kept hair healthy and shiny, it also left stains on upholstery, leading to the creation of the antimacassar -- a small cloth used to prevent your oily head from imprinting itself on the sofa.

Hairline brush

When: 1950

If you could translate the words "bad idea" into mid-century modern design, it would be this brush that promised to shine your bald spot with a felt pad and brush your remaining hair at the same time.

Clam shell razor

When: The Stone Age

No, this is not the name of an all-girl punk band that were once political prisoners in Russia. Rather, the way men shaved before metal was discovered. They'd sharpen the shell and scrape or pluck the hair out, because the other option, aside from not caring, was fire.


When: 1986

Turns out that Mr. Evans idea of vacuuming one's head to encourage hair growth was actually better at cutting it. The company, which did a good job at convincing lazy people they could use a suction tube to cut their hair, is still going strong today...among pet groomers.

Trados nose shaper

When: 1916

Just think. If this strap that reformed ill-shaped noses had worked, they might've been able to make one for the entire face.

Testone radium energizer

When: 1910s

Proof that we should take the application of new technologies slowly: People once thought strapping 20 micrograms of refined, measured radium to your balls would increase sexual energy.

Stick-on facial hair

When: 1960s

Today, beard implants, yesterday, beard stick-ons, which one could always blame on the LSD when the glue wore off.

GLH hair in a can

When: 1990s

Insecurity met aerosol and an infomercial back in the '90s and unleashed GLH (Good Looking Hair) on the world. Troubling though, is that this company is still in business.

Breath spray

When: 1970s-1990s


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