Hay’s Hair Health was a hair product sold from the late 1880’s through the early 1940’s. Advertisements during this period indicated that it was manufactured in the late 1800’s by the London Supply Company of New York and later by the Philo Hay Specialty Company of Newark New Jersey.
According to Hair Raising Stories “Hay’s Hair Health was the product of Dr. Philo Hay. His business was initially called the London Supply Co., and it was located at 853 Broadway in New York City. The Hay’s Hair Health product was introduced in 1887. By 1898, he had a factory in Newark, NJ and offices in London and Barcelona. Eventually, the company name was changed to Philo Hay Company and then Philo Hay Specialties Co.”
“Philo-Hay Specialties Co. first appeared in the Newark City Directories in 1902 located at 229 Lafayette with Freeman Hiscox as manager,” according to BayBottles. “The Philo-Hay Specialty Company remained at 229 Lafayette Street until 1906 when they were listed at 29 Congress. In 1908 their address was 30 Clinton and by 1913 their listed address was Verona Ave, corner of Clifton Ave. The business disappeared from the Newark Directories after 1922.
According to BayBottles, in addition to Hay’s Hair Health, “the company manufactured a number of other similar products as well including Skinhealth Treatment, Creme Peau Sante (Violette) and Harfina Soap. Harfina Soap was almost always advertised in conjunction with Hay’s Hair Health.
One early advertisement for Hay’s Hair Health printed in the January 5, 1901 edition of “The Literary Digest” stated “Gray hairs often stand in the way of advancement for both men and women, socially and in business. Many fail to secure good positions because the look “too old” and many women are disappointed in life because they fail to preserve that attractiveness which so largely depends on the hair. Hay’s Hair Health will positively restore gray or faded hair to its former color and beauty. It is not a dye, nor a stain, but a natural restorer and tonic to beautiful hair growth. Equally good for men and women.” Another advertisement from the same era goes even further stating: “This hair food acts on the roots, giving them the required nourishment and positively produces luxuriant hair on bald heads. An advertisement published in various forms between 1902 and 1915 used the slogan: “Hay’s Hair Health turns back time in its flight.”
Their bold advertising claims were not backed up by the scientific community. The 1916 Report of the Connecticut Experiment Station described Hay’s Hair Health as a colorless liquid containing a yellow percipitate and with the following odor of oil of bay. The product contained glycerin, free sulphur, lead acetate and organic matter, possibly sage. They stated that: “This is simply one of the glycerine water solutions of lead acetate with considerable free sulphur. The use of any preparation, even externally, containing such a dangerous poison as lead acetate is unsafe.” The Indiana State Board of Health Chemical Division’s 1917 Report of the Chemical Division of the Laboratory of Hygiene had this to say about Hay’s Hair Health: “This combination is also sold under the false claim that it is a hair restorer. It is…a mixture of sugar, lead (1.5%), sulphur (1.5%), alcohol and water. The contents of a fifty cent bottle are worth but five.” After 1922, when the Philo Hay Specialty Company was no longer listed in the Newark directories, its not clear who manufactured Hay’s Hair Health but it continued to be named in drug store advertisements as late as 1942.”