Hoodoo Health Care and Beauty Products

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Many patent medicines of the past and present are conjure-ready, needing no adaptation for magical work; display at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
Pomades, pressing oils, and other hair care products can be vehicles for conjure work
The lid of a vintage jar of Vicks VapoRub, listing herbal ingredients which have both medical and magical uses
Commercial medicines and liniments have a long history of use in African American conjure as spiritual supplies
A vintage tin of Lucky Brown Pressing Oil, a beauty product designed for use with a hot pressing comb to straighten the hair; it carries talismanic emblems symbolizing love and luck to convey the fact that it is scented with efficacious conjure oils

Hoodoo Health Care and Beauty Products, including herbal poultices, liniments, plasters, ointments, skin lotions, pomades, and hair treatments, originated in the old hoodoo drugstores, at the intersection between magic and medicine, where we can see the double meaning of the term "root doctor."

These spiritual supplies meet a variety of needs, from herb-based over-the-counter remedies for minot afflictions to magically-empowered skin and hair care products that convey one's desires and powers to those with whom one comes in contact. In some ways they may resemble hoodoo and conjure oils or perfumes and colognes, but they carry within them the traditions of herbal pharmacies as well as herbal cosmetics. They may be used by those suffering from a combination of spiritual and physical afflictions and also by those who wish to employ skin and hair care products that have extra value as spiritual supplies.



Poultices are generally supplied in the form of compressed dry herbal ingredients to which water is added to make up a thick mixture that is applied to the skin. They may be used to calm inflammation, relieve the itching of insect bites, or provide deep heat for sore muscles and sprains.


Commercially prepared herbal plasters are generally sold in flat sheets that stick to the body. Capsicum oil, derived from red peppers, is often one of the active ingredients, as are mustard powder and menthol, derived from mint plants. Some plasters function as counter-irritants, drawing blood flow to an area of the body in need of healing; others provide soothing analgesic pain relief to irritated membranes.


Liniments are typically herb-empowered liquids that can be rubbed directly onto the afflicted part of the body. They may have alcohol, oil, or turpentine as their base, and, like plasters, they may have counter-irritant or analgesic properties, and are used for the relief of sore muscles, sprains, insect bites, and irritant plant toxins.


Ointments are stiff compounds of herbal ingredients, oils, and waxes that convey pharmaceutical and spiritual ingredients to the skin and coat it with a protective or medicinal layer of materials. One of the most-loved of these is these is Vicks VapoRub, a strongly-scented commercial ointment with a long history of use in the African American pharmacopeia.


Skin lotions are silky emulsions of water and oil that moisturize and nourish the skin. As beauty products with health care ingredients they improve the appearance by removing the ashy look of dry skin, soothing skin irritations, and keeping the skin protected. When herbal ingredients are added to them, they take on use as a convenient way to apply spiritual supplies to the body for a variety of purposes.

Hair Care Products

Hair treatments and hair care products are cosmetic beauty supplies designed to manage, control, and nourish the hair and to encourage hair growth. These may be applied in the form of pomades, which are stiff hair ointments for firm hair texture control; brilliantines, which are oil-based compounds that add shine and provide light control to the hair; or herbal butters and creams, such as shea butter, which moisturize, nourish and protect the hair and scalp.

Using Health Care and Beauty Products in Magic and Medicine

Workers who fashion their own poultices, plasters, liniments, and ointments often do hands-on healing work for their clients. They may perform rub-down rites in person and send the client home with preparations and instructions on how to carry on the treatments at home.

No matter what form of poultice, liniment, plaster, ointment, skin lotion, pomade, or hair treatment your conjure practitioner puts together or prescribes for you, the ingredients will be selected with reference to your personal needs, whether for blessing, love-drawing, reconciliation, money-drawing, spiritual protection, jinx-breaking, court case and legal matters, or aggressive work against an enemy.


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