Hair - A Rundown Through History.-
By: Niwrka P. - Brand Identity Designer | Skincare Professional.-
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Hairstyles and cuts through history are not just trends; they are more like social commentaries that mirror what was happening during that time. And just as there have been times of plenty and famine throughout the ages, hair fashion has also swung times of extravagance and restraint.
So keep reading to get the rundown.
Ancient Egypt was a sweltering hot place, with desert sand as far as the eye could see. People kept their hair short, with men usually shaving their hair off completely. On the other hand, the noble class believed in elegant beauty. The noble class used hair extensions, combs, hairpins, and memorable wigs in different colors for ceremonial occasions.
No doubt, the most famous of those wigs were the ones worn by Cleopatra, the Queen of the Nile. With their long braids, gold accessories, and signature cobra headdress, her headwear is still considered glamorous by today's standards.
The ancient Grecian maidens loved their long hair curled and waved around their shoulders. At the same time, older women usually pulled their hair back in a chignon. Greek men kept their hair shorter. They would decorate their hairdos with fresh flowers, jeweled headpieces, and gold powders for special occasions. They even used henna and saffron to give their locks a reddish tint.
By the time of the ancient Romans, hairstyles had become more decorative for both men and women. Hair was tightly curled, pinned around wire frames, and then powdered with gold dust. Blonde was the color of choice, and people dyed their hair or wore light-colored wigs. Hair accessories like jeweled hairpins and tiaras were all the rage.
The Renaissance was the age of over-the-top extravagant fashion. Here, a receding hairline was a thing of beauty, and women would purposely pluck and shave their hair from the forehead and temples. Here "bigger is better" was the hairstyle mantra, and upper-class ladies wore their hair curled and piled as high as they could.
Marie Antoinette was the style icon of the time, and her outrageous powdered wigs were the talk of the royal court. These massive coiffured sculptures were decorated with whatever her hairdressers could get their hands on; pearls, jewels, ribbons, flowers, feathers, leaves, and twigs. They even added scenery like windmills and actual birdcages with living birds!
The Victorian Era
The Victorian age saw the return to a more sober elegance. Women grew their hair long but would never wear it open in public. They would curl them in long ringlets, pin them together, and secure them to the nape of their neck, smoothing them down with hair oils. Bangs were also popular, and hair accessories were subdued ivory combs and black ribbons.
The Jazz Age women did something unheard of; they cut their hair! The free-spirited ladies of the Roaring Twenties declared their independence by cutting their hair short into sleek or waved bobs influenced by famous movie stars like Louise Brooks and Clara Bow. Popular hair accessories included elaborate headpieces, combs, and the cloche hat; a fitted headwear pulled low over the forehead.
These were tough times, Women around the world moved towards shorter hairstyles that were easier to manage. Not as short as the 20s but more like pageboy cuts curled or in waves. Permanent waving techniques were becoming more popular because ladies didn't have time to do their hair daily.
The hardships continued this time because of World War II. However, women still tried to copy the hairstyles of the sirens of the silver screen like Rita Hayworth, Victoria Lake, and Ava Gardner. Plastic rollers and setting creams created soft waves that flowed down over the shoulders.
Since many women had to work in factories, scarves became very popular to protect and secure hair. "Victory Rolls," named after the fighter plane maneuver, were the top trending hairstyle at the end of WW2, celebrating the Allies' win.
Here the "domestic goddess" reigned supreme. Eager to return to more manageable times after two decades of war, women wanted to return home and be the perfect housewife with a beautiful home, elegant clothes, and perfect hair. Donna Reed was the inspiration for women everywhere with her perfectly teased and sculpted shoulder-length hair, pearls, and high heels. Going to the hairdressers once a week to have their hair shampooed and set was now a normal part of life.
The 60s was a time of massive social change, and hairstyles underwent a similar revolution. What started with the perfect helmet hair of the 50s first turned into giant beehives.
Then the idea of the "domestic goddess" was thrown out the window, and more practical shorter styles with fluffy bangs came into vogue.
Then along came UK hairdresser Vital Sassoon who flipped the hair game on its head with his 5-point bob haircut. These no-fuss haircuts directly reflected women's changing societal roles as more women entered the workforce.
Another significant hair movement was the long free-flowing locks of the hippies. Embellished with flowers and daisy chains, the untamed hair of the 1960s was a direct rejection of the tight, controlled hairdo of the 1950s.
The African-American afros of the 70s were a political declaration against the taming of natural hair texture. Other combative hairstyles of this time included the Mohawks, spiked and brightly dyed hair of the youth that was frustrated with the establishment and its social norms.
In pop culture, Farah Fawcett's hairstyle on the iconic TV series Charlie's Angels was the ultimate all-American look. Sported by every other model in magazines, the long, layered, free-flowing curls and feathered bangs became synonymous with the time.
Welcome back to the age of "bigger is better" but without the powdered wigs. Here, hair was teased, permed, crimped, and curled to an inch of its life, then hairspray until it could be considered a fire hazard. Popular hair accessories included neon headbands, chunky barrettes, and scrunchies!
The 80s were the home to the mullet, known as the "business in the front, party in the back" haircut. Possibly the cringeworthy-est haircut of modern times, it was iconic in its time.