Yes, you read that right: Hair Tonic. Today in Cascading Style we’re trying out the oft-spoke of, rarely seen, retro coiffant. What does it do? Is it any good? Whose grandpa did we borrow it from? We’ll find out.
The word tonic evokes a certain imagery: glass bottles of non-descript fluids promising everything from increasing virility to regrowing an entire head of hair. Luckily, Vitalis came around long after the “patent medicine” chicanery. Debuting around the 1940s, Vitalis Hair Tonic was advertised as a means of styling hair without having to delve into excessively greasy products. Vitalis instead uses mainly alcohol and something the label mysteriously refers to as “V7”. Now is this healthy for your hair? It’s pretty negligible as the whole solution is rather diluted. It DOES however lend a sharp, clean scent to the already crisp fragrance. Using this stuff, you’re bound to smell like a doctor’s office…in a good way, that is!
As for instructions, Vitalis recommends using after a shower, before blow-drying; or on dry hair during the day as a touch-up. Using this product was a new experience for me; I’m used to either towel-drying and letting the chips fall where they may, or blow-drying and using rather heavy gels to get everything just so. Vitalis acted more as a conditioner, making hair easier to comb into place but not holding any strict shape. This is especially convenient for a quick fix if you just want to run a comb to keep it neat. If you’re looking for a more vertical style, however, you’re going to want to look towards some stronger hold products; gel or pomade usually suffice. (I’ll cover some of those in a later edition)
Now older hairstyles around the 50’s and 60’s were popularized by a healthy shine. Right on the bottle, Vitalis claims to make hair “healthy looking”. In that regard, Vitalis did a bang-up job. Almost all day long, I had a “Rat Pack” shimmer much like the young lad in the advertisement above. Now this may be a problem for some people with many popular haircuts going for a “lazy” look that doesn’t shine at all. I’m a big fan of this stuff, especially if I’m looking for a quick, slick, hair-do. My only complaint about Vitalis is that it made my hair a little bit sticky, at least until the product dried. But with all said and done, Vitalis did a pretty solid job at keeping hair neat and shiny. Not bad for a 70-year-old product.
Vitalis can be found in various cosmetic stores or online for about $5 for a 7 oz. bottle.
14 thoughts on “Cascading Style: Vitalis Hair Tonic Review”
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I have been using Vitalis for 60 years and can not find another Hair Tonic that leaves my hair as well conditioned as this without making it greasy…I simply pour a very small portion in the palm of my hand AFTER drying the hair, gently rub it into and through my hair and comb/brush…may require a little moisture on the hair to get it in proper place, but after that, you are good to go….
I only use very little Vitalis put into the palm of one hand, gently rubbing my hands together then gently rubbing both hands through my hair and massaging my scalp a little as well….I do not use more Vitalis till the next time I wash my hair, usually 4-5 days between washings…doesn’t start to get a little “oily” till about this time. I don’t keep adding more on a daily basis…once is enough till the next washing….So far I still have hair….somewhat thinner than ever, but afterall, I am 77 years young…guess I’m fortunate to even have enough to comb…
I’ve been using various tonics for the past year or so and really like what they do. Mostly great for fixing bed head before gym, but I also use after showering. Eaude de Quinine being a favorite. I finally bought some Vitalis and love it! I don’t think I would apply more to freshen up my hair though. Once applied that would suffice until washed out. In my opinion.
I know this gentleman who is around 92 or 93 and has been using Vitalis since he was age 16! He has beautiful hair and many people comment about his hair.
In my day day it was either Vitalis or Brylcream. I chose Vitalis 65 years ago and I continue as a loyal customer. I notice that the product’s label and manufacturer/distributorhave recently changed on the label. A little confusing, V7 is no longer on the label.
The phone number 1-800-487-7273 remains the same. The new product no longer lists dihydroabietyl as an ingredient (V7 ?) nor does it say “manufactured in the USA). Both labels list Idelle Labs as the distributor. The old label states that Vitalis is a registered trademark of Helen of Troy, Limited; the new label says that Kaz Europe Sarl now owns the trademark. Has there been a change of ownership and/or country of origin/manufacture?
A little on-line research shows that Kaz Europe Sarl is a division of Henlen of Tory and is located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Well known and recognized products such as Vick’s Vapo Rub, Pur water Filters, Honeywell and OXO are but a few brand names.
So, what happened to the V7? The new formulation works, but not as well as the original.
Looks like you beat me to the punch.
Seems like the “V7” has been removed in the latest reformulation.
What is the V7 and what does it do?
In my country its now branded Vitalin- with V7. (Whatever that is) About 50 years ago as a young teenager I used it and it was called Vitalis back then. I never used it again since my teenage years and started using it now again. Having much less hair now- I find it works perfectly for keeping my hair neat. Though, I would like to know what that V7 is.
I have been using Vitalis, daily, for about 50 years. What have you done to the product? Yesterday I purchased two bottles. First I noticed that it spilled out of the bottle much faster then normal, like it’s been watered down. Using it has confirmed that surely it’s been watered down. It just doesn’t have the holding power. I know we have inflation and transportation issues but why screw up such a great product? Couldn’t you just leave it alone and just raise the price?
I have noticed the same problems. It’s less viscous which explains why it comes out of the bottle faster. And, it does not hold as well nor leave my hair with that slight sheen. They have changed something and I don’t like it.
I totally agree with you. Same ingredients BUT the amount of each has changed!! I have a bottle from several years ago and a recent bottle. The one from several years ago had Water listed as the third ingredient, the more recent one has Water as the second ingredient. So indeed it has been WATERED DOWN. the new version DOES NOT HOLD AT ALL !! I have fine hair and in 15 minutes using the new watered down version on my hair looks like I got zaped with electricity, hair is flying all over and will not stay put! I have to believe sales have significantly gone down. I will not buy it anymore. Did they try to see how the product worked before they made a change??? I do not think they did. Any one else out there have a similar problem, love to hear from you.