Leonardo da Vinci has long been lauded as one of the world's greatest thinkers. Not only did he create impeccable artwork (one of which includes the Mona Lisa), he also made his mark as a scientist and engineer, having laid the groundwork for scuba gear and the parachute. Many of his most well-known designs were imagined to as machines of war — like a helicopter, crossbow, and triple-barrel cannon — but as a recent book reveals, the guy also dreamed up a wicked brew for fighting the effects of ageing, too.
In a newly-released tome, titled Leonardo da Vinci, author, and Tulane University history professor Walter Isaacson maps out da Vinci’s inventive solution for a beauty problem we all identify with today: covering grey hair.
When combing through more than 7,000 pages of da Vinci’s notes on everything from geometric sketches to to-do lists (one includes a reminder to note a description of a woodpecker’s tongue), Isaacson found the inventor’s original recipe for colouring hair blonde. “There he is in his 30s, he’s really good looking, has curly hair and he’s afraid of going grey,” the author told CTV News.
His solution? Boiling nuts in oil, then applying to greys. While Isaacson doesn’t point to any specific before and after results found in da Vinci’s copious notes, it’s certainly not the most extreme way of going blonde back in the day.
As an article in The Atlantic pointed out, just a few hundred years after da Vinci’s death, Venetian women would turn to outdoor salons of sorts when lightening hair, sunning themselves on terraces while hair soaked in corrosive lye mixtures.
Sounds a bit excessive, no? Then again, given the kind of time it takes to lighten up today — Selena Gomez sat nine hours in the chair for her recent turn as a buttery blond — da Vinci’s methods seem pretty darn manageable. Now, if we could only get his strategy for achieving glowy skin...