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History of Hair

Ancient Civilizations

In the heat of Egypt, noblemen & women clipped their hair close to the head. But for ceremonial occasions heavy, curly black wigs were donned.Women wigs were often long & braided, adorned with gold ornaments or ivory hairpins. Men faces were generally clean shaved, but stiff false beards were sometimes worn.


In classical Greece women hair was long & pulled back into a chignon. Many dyed their hair red with henna & sprinkled it with gold powder, often adorning it with fresh flowers or jewelled tiaras. Mens hair was short & even shaved on occasion.


In austere Rome the tendency was to follow Greek styles. The upper classes would use curling irons & favored the gold powdered look of the Greeks. Women often dyed their hair blonde or wore wigs made from hair of captive civilization slaves. Later, hairstyles became more ornate with hair curled tight & piled high on the head often shaped around wire frames. Hairdressing became popular & the upper classes were attended to by slaves or visited public barber shops.

The East

Amongst the Muslim community the hair was traditionally concealed in public. Men wore a turban or fez & womens hair was hidden under the traditional veil. Both men & women visited the local public baths for grooming where the mans head & face were shaved & omens long hair was given a henna rinse.


Unmarried Chinese women hair was usually worn long & braided whilst women combed the hair back from the face & wound into a knot at the nape. The Manchu regime of the time dictated that men shaved the front of the head & wore the back hair long & braided, tied with black silk.


Males in Japan also shaved the front of the head but kept the back hair pulled tightly into a short stiff ponytail.During the Medieval period women hair had been long & loose but by the 17thcentury the hair became more styled, swept up from the nape of the neck & adorned with pins & jeweled combs.Geisha women hairdos were especially elaborate, high & heavily lacquered & often enhanced with hairpieces.


Due to the many tribal customs African hairstyles were many & varied & usually signified status.Masai warriors tied the front hair into sections of tiny braids whilst the back hair was allowed to grow to waist length.Non-warriors & women, however shaved their heads. Many tribes dyed the hair with red earth & grease some even stiffened it with animal dung.The complex style of the Mangbetu women involved plaiting the hair thinly & arranging over a cone-shaped basket frame, flaring the top then adorning the whole thing with long, bone needles. Other tribes such as the Miango took a more simple approach, covering their long ponytails with a headscarf & adorning with leaves.


Native American Indians were divided in their hair styles those on the East Coast sporting entirely shaved heads save for a ridge of hair along the crown, whilst Plains Indians, both men & women, wore the recognized long braids adorned with feathers.Further South the Incas sported black heads over relatively, short often bobbed hair, whilst Aztec women plaited their hair entwined with strips of colored cloths then wound around the head.The Mayan royalty, although having shaved heads, donned high, ornate headdresses.

The Western World

In the 15th century The Renaissance period the ladies of the upper classes really took plucking to its limit! If you think tweezing the odd eyebrow here & there is painful, imagine yourself plucking the whole front hairline away to give the appearance of a higher forehead! The rest of the hair was tightly scraped back to show off the elaborate headdresses of the day. This was a practice common in all over the Europe whereas the upper class ladies of Italy preferred to cover the hairline with low caps & jeweled turbans. They did, however, envy the fairer hair of Northern Europeans & sat for many hours in the heat of the sun in an effort to Bleach their hair. The bleach of the day was made using either saffron or onion skins!

By the 16th century Queen Elizabeth was the main female icon & set the trends for the era.Her lily-white complexion & red tresses set women everywhere rushing for copious amounts of white face powder & red wigs. That is really serious about achieving a pallid complexion used the very sharp but highly poisonous white lead, adding bright cheeks with lead based rouge! Follow this with a thin layer of egg-white to bind it all together & you were ready to party

The 18th century saw the emergence of elaborate wigs, mile-high coiffures & highly decorated curls. White powdered wigs with deep ringlets were the order of the day often tied with a black bow for men or decorated with feathers, bows for women. Big hair was definitely the in thing & many styles were modeled over a cage frame or hair pads the bigger the better. Some immensely tall hairstyles took hours to create & were heavily starched & powdered. However, the length of time spent creating these elaborate styles did mean that weeks went by between styling & the mixture of horsehair & heavy powder created perfect nesting material for vermin! This didn’t seem to put them off though, & some adventurous souls had mini gardens or maritime scenes complete with model ship incorporated into their style in fact it was not unknown for imaginative ladies to create mini-bird jails complete with birds on top of their heads!

Following the decadence of the previous era, the Victorians took a much more subdued & puritanical line. Middle class ladies, although not abandoning make-up completely, did tone things down considerably with more of an emphasis on natural beauty. A Victorian woman would play up her natural features & aimed at a healthy hygienic look. Hair was supposed to look sleek, shiny & strong & styles were altogether more elegant & demure. The hair was often smoothed down with oils & curled into long ringlets, fringes were short & decoration was more subtle.

Hairnets were often worn during the day to keep curls confined & clipped to the back of the head with a simple ivory comb or black bow. Later in the age hair was often plaited & wound into large coils pinned neatly to the nape of the neck.Neatness was the order of the day & loose hair would have been considered vulgar.Men of the time kept their hair relatively short, pomaded with massacre oil & most would have worn some form of mustache, beard & sideburns.

1920s society very much abandoned the puritanical standards & constraints of Victorian life.The Roaring Twenties saw the emergence of short, bobbed & waved styles, signifying the new independent, free-spirited, free-woman ethos of the day. Women increasingly had access to cinema & theater & trends were set by the superstars of the time. Make-up was very much back in fashion powder, rouge & very red lips were in albeit in a more demure way than the earlier 18th century Style. Mens hair remained short, as in the Victorian era but was most often worn with a centre parting & slicked back using brilliantine & highly perfumed oils.

1940s women continued to follow their on-screen idols, with the emphasis on feminine, extravagant styles. Soft curls falling onto the shoulders or long, wavy natural looks were popular & for the first time sun-tans became popular probably inspired by Hollywood starlets. Of course these styles would have been saved for evening wear as the war years raged something of a more practical nature was needed. Many women worked either on the l& or in the munitions factories, & as shampoo & non-essential items were hard to come by fashion was often dictated by practicality. Practical women wore their hair in a neat roll around the nape & over the ears, often covered with a headscarf knotted at the front leaving only the fringe exposed. Plastic hair rollers were an indispensable part of styling as was styling lotion to hold the hair in place for as long as possible.

By the 1950s, with the constraints of war at an end, glamour became popular & women attempted to achieve a look what implied domestic goddess The impression that all household chores could be accomplished whilst still looking stylish & well groomed was aspired to.Returning to the home duties after the demons of war-time meant women could spend more time on achieving the 50s ideal of beauty. Eyebrows, mascara & eyeliner became heavier with intense colored lips highlighting a pale complexion. Hair began to suffer abuse however & was teased, sculpted, sprayed, permanently waved & pushed into perfectly formed curls. Hair often matched a perfect helmet & women started to visit salons on a weekly basis for he shampoo & set. Men of the day were also prepared to spend time copying their idols James Dean & Elvis & greased back hairdos were coupled with long, heavy sideburns.

Complex hair styles were definitely out in the 1960s. Women were once again going into the workplace & needed to adopt a more achievable style for a day-time look. Many favored back-combed ,short, hairstyles that could be quickly styled & held in place with softened, hair spray with a long, feminine fringe. Younger women who left their hair longer tended to wear it loose or in a simple ponytail, adorning it with flowers or ribbons during the current hippy phase. Both hair & make-up was kept simple, the emphasis being on natural, healthy looks the all American girl-next-door look was widely popular.

Blonde was the color to be & darker hair was often given highlights & the sun-kissed look by soaking str&s of hair in lemon juice & sitting in the sun.

Long, free & natural best describes hair in the 1970s. Manes of free-falling curls, soft partings & long fringes were complemented by bronzed skin & glossy lips, soft tailored clothes & the ultimate aim was soft, feminine & romantic. The cult-series Charlies Angels depicted everything that 70s woman should be. Even male styling became softer with feathered cuts, highlights & soft layers. Use of products was limited as the aim was natural looking hair & products were marketed accordingly with an increase in the use of plant & herb extracts.

Towards the end of the era though, parts rebelled against this floral, romantic image & the distinctive if somewhat shocking looks of the Punk briefly per-vailed. Spiked hair, tattooed scalps,dyed vivid primary or fluorescent colors, or outrageous Mahicans graced the high streets.

The Age of Excess, otherwise known as the 1980ssaw less constraints & more freedom of choice in styles & trends. People were no longer prepared to conform to a set image & many variances occurred. On the one h& were the power dressers immaculate women with strong tailored clothes & meticulously groomed hairstyles. The long-bob was highly favored-precisely cut & evenly curled under, a good hairdresser was an essential part of this womans life. This woman hairstyle reflected control, a busy work life, a hectic social life but on top of it all even her hair style!The rebellious element on the other h& were busy following Madonnas ever-changing style & were willing to sport unconventional, choppy off-colored hairdos, to match their unconventional, eccentric clothing.

During the 1990s hair & beauty styles were constantly changing & pretty much anything was acceptable. A huge fad was the Rachel cut, Jennifer Anistons character in Friends hair was long & sleek with longer length layers, a grown-out fringe & framed with highlights around the face. Also hugely popular were short, choppy styles as Meg Ryans & many variations on the same theme. Messed-up hair was very much in but whether long or short it seemed the whole world had definitely gone blonde! Multi-toned highlights, all over blonde any shade of blonde in fact, even previously brunette models & film stars turned blonde.With golden tresses & full, pouty glossy lips & close eyes the look was definitely a throwback to the Bridget Bardot Sex Kitten style.

Men on the other h& were very minimalist in their approach shaved heads being the order of the day. Infact anything over an inch was deemed long & there was a new trend for products. Prior to the 90″S men had made do with shampoo alone, or occasionally pinched the girlfriends hair gel but the new man image encouraged companies to produce all kinds of new products for men. With new all-male packaging of men toiletries it became completely acceptable for men bathrooms to sport as many products as females.

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