Hair History – Hair Around The World

We may have spent most of our educational years learning about history but one factor that goes unmentioned is that of hairstyles. Look through any history book or website about the history and you’ll notice that the hairstyles each culture coveted have changed drastically throughout the centuries. Sometimes it’s fun to see just how the rest of the world perceived beauty and what coiffed hair was deemed “in” during those times.

The ancient Egyptians have been historically noted for pioneering many of the beauty and skincare practices we enjoy today and most likely couldn’t live without. When it came to hair, the Egyptians took things a step further by using wigs to establish rank in society and were regarded as a thing of beauty. Ancient Egyptian women adorned their heads with fine jet-black wigs that were usually long and braided.

They also decorated them with pure gold ornaments and hairpins made of ivory. Such elaborate wigs were often worn during celebrations and special ceremonies. Of course, when the weather grew too hot to stand for wigs, many noblewomen preferred to keep their natural hair clipped short or pulled up into a ponytail or braid to keep their necks cool.

Greek women loved wearing their hair long and enjoyed dying their hair red through the use of henna. While out in society, most Greek women pulled their long tresses up into a chignon. Another popular hair trend was to decorate the hair with everything from tiaras to fresh flowers and some women even used gold powder to sprinkle into their hair. Women of the Roman times used the Greek influence when it came to their hairstyles.

Although by this time, the curling iron was in use and many Roman women – mostly of upper-class ranks – used the same method of sprinkling gold powder in their hair. Over time, the color of gold was a large trend with hairstyles and many Roman women either dyed their hair blonde or wore blonde wigs. Another popular Roman hair trend involved the use of wireframes to shape and craft curled hair by pulling it up into a tight updo and piling it high on the top of the head.

In the East, hairstyles weren’t much of a trend for women over time due to the belief that Muslim women should keep their heads covered.

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In Africa, hairstyles were used specifically to class rank or status in society. Of course, this varies, since there are many different tribes in Africa. In the Mangbetu culture, women sported thin braids and then arranged them in a fashionable coned basket frame. They would then add bone needles to the hairdo as a decoration. Women in the Miango tribes wore their hair in long ponytails, which they covered with headscarves or leaves, while the women in the Masai culture simply shaved their heads bald.

In Asia, the Chinese and Japanese had their own ideas of popular hairstyles. Unwed Chinese girls were required to wear their hair in long braids. Older women tended to comb their hair back and away from their face, which was then wrapped into a knot at the nape of their neck. In Japan, women wore their hair long and loose during Medieval times but in the 17th century, this changed to updos decorated with pins and jeweled combs. Geisha wigs also became very popular and a lot of thought and time when into creating these hair masterpieces.

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