Endorsed by princesses, the Koko hair tonic promised long, wavy locks and a stop to dandruff, greys and hair loss.
Endorsed by princesses, the Koko hair tonic promised long, wavy locks and a stop to dandruff, greys and hair loss.

Flashback: The cure-all hair tonic made with borax

A popular beauty product which was said to be used by every European princess promised to be the cure-all for lacklustre locks.

Sold in chemists and stores, Koko was advertised to cure dandruff, prevent greys and stop hair falling out while making it soft and glossy.

Advertisement for 'Koko for the Hair'. It would probably have been inserted in a popular magazine, in 1909. Picture: Wellcome Library, London.
Advertisement for 'Koko for the Hair'. It would probably have been inserted in a popular magazine, in 1909. Picture: Wellcome Library, London.

All with just one application.

More stories:

Flashback: Datsuns, men in stubbies and flowy skirts

Meet the faces behind ‘Have you seen the old Mackay’

Historic Mackay robberies: violent, clever, laughable

Use the entire bottle and you could expect your previously boring straight hair to turn into long, luscious wavy locks.

A vintage advertisement for Koko Maricopas Company's hair product, Koko.
A vintage advertisement for Koko Maricopas Company's hair product, Koko.

“You will be surprised to find Koko the cleanest and pleasantest preparation for the hair you ever used,” a 1912 advertisement in the Daily Mercury read.

“Without oil, grease, dye or odor. Makes the hair wave delightfully.”

An advertisement for Koko hair in the Daily Mercury, August 8, 1912. Picture: Archives
An advertisement for Koko hair in the Daily Mercury, August 8, 1912. Picture: Archives

But when the British Medical Association looked into the product in the same year, it found the tonic was little more than water, alcohol, glycerine, borax and formaldehyde solution.

Subscriber benefits:

Daily puzzles and Sudoku another reason to stay subscribed

We’re still here: How to contact your journalists

All of these ingredients are still used in beauty products today like shampoos, creams and toothpastes.

Do you have memories of beauty products that are no longer around? Email heidi.petith@news.com.au


Research reveals negative impacts of COVID on mental health

Premium Content Research reveals negative impacts of COVID on mental health

A researcher from the University of Southern Queensland has identified significant...

Wide Bay Burnett welcomes new regional doctors

Premium Content Wide Bay Burnett welcomes new regional doctors

Wide Bay will see 15 budding General Practitioners placed across the region, with...

‘Selfish’: Man calls partner nearly 400 times from prison

Premium Content ‘Selfish’: Man calls partner nearly 400 times from prison

‘You’re entirely self-centred’: A magistrate berated a South Burnett man after he...