Lyon's Kathairon for the Hair was among the many 19th-century hair potions competing for the attention of the American consumer. Although Lyon's product was retrieved from the wreck of the SS Republic in far fewer numbers than many of the other hair treatment bottles, with a mere eight examples found at the site, all empty.
Its popularity nonetheless appears to have been immense as noted by bold advertising claims of 1856 and 1857 declaring that nearly a million bottles of Kathairon had sold the previous years. "No one desiring a fine head of hair should fail to use it," claimed ads endorsing Lyon's Kathairon as a cure for baldness and gray hair. Promoted as "the most excellent and popular preparation for the hair ever made," the product was introduced by German-born Emanuel Thomas Lyon, said to be an 1840s graduate of New Jersey's Princeton College. After leaving school, Lyon began working as a chemist in New York City where he concocted several preparations, including his popular Kathairon.
Period ads for Lyon's famous product also featured testimonials of individuals documenting their return from baldness to a full head of hair. One such gentleman claimed that Lyon's remedy "has entirely restored my hair after baldness of six years." Lyon died in 1858, just ten years after he had introduced his hair restorative. But his creation continued to thrive until at least the end of the 19th century. The cargo of bottled Kathairon shipped aboard the Republic in 1865 had been prepared by wholesale druggist Demas Barnes, who had amassed a great fortune through his patent medicine empire.