The plucked brow and forehead was continued into the renaissance. It was popular for women to before marriage to wear their hair with loose and long with a center part. After marriage women covered their hair and continued to pluck their hairline and eyebrows. Women began experimenting with braids, and many intricate and individual styles developed. Check out Dream Weaver’s website for fascinating information and instruction on Renaissance braiding techniques. The hair during this period was also styled by using curling irons.
The biggest change in women’s grooming habits in the Middle Ages involved eyebrows – women throughout Europe plucked them to appear thin, and in some cases shaved them entirely off. A center parting was common for women’s long hairstyles, but long hair was hard to manage, so women began to divide it into sections and lace it with ribbons. From this emerged the style most commonly associated with medieval women – braids or plaits.
Braiding her hair into plaits signified a girl’s passage into womanhood and marriage. In Britain, by the 12th century, braids could be coiled around the head and were sometimes put up in a chignon. In the 13th century, a common style was to wind the plaits at each side of the head above the ears. By the 14th century women began to alter their hairline by plucking it to give the illusion of a higher forehead.
Girls let their hair fall freely and older women wore their hair long and let it fall loose over their shoulders. A low forehead was a mark of beauty, and hair was styled accordingly. Women also wore their hair parted in the middle, waved it with hot irons, and scraped it back to expose the ears. Sometimes spiral curls were sectioned from the rest of the hair and styled so they hung down over the forehead while the rest hung loosely down the back.
By the 7th and 6th centuries BC, the hair was bound by a band, ribbon, diadem, or string of pearls. By 5th century BC, another style had become more popular – women pulled up the back of their hair and looped it over a fillet. After Alexander, hairstyles seemed to become more sophisticated – knots and chignons were held in place with hairpins, and ringlets and corkscrew curls accented the chignons.
Roman women originally wore their hair parted in the center and gathered at the nape in a ponytail or bun. During the Republic, variations began to appear as married women started to wear their hair coiled on the crown. By the time of the empire, the hair was still parted in the center, but now could be waved, curled, or worn in a loose roll that sat low on the neck. A fringe of curls was another popular look. During the Flavian era women wore piles and cascades of curls. Emperor Titus’ wife Julia wore her curls high on her head, held in place with a tiara. Her back hair fell in a soft knot of braids. Neither men nor women wore hats.
Head-dresses and wigs of different types were often worn in Ancient Egypt, but we are going to focus on the hairstyles. Hair care was an intricate part of grooming in Egypt, and much time was devoted to styling it. Setting lotions were used, made of bee’s wax and resin. Women plaited or braided their hair, or wore it in ringlets. When hair was worn short, it was cut in the severe crop that is the epitome of Egyptian style. Artificial hair extensions were sometimes added to the natural hair.
Liz Taylor as Cleoptra
Married women wore their hair with shoulder-length locks framing the face, while the rest of the hair fell behind on the back. Another possibility for married women was the enveloping wig, where the hair fell evenly all around the head at the shoulders. Cleopatra often wore her hair in plaits, with a ribbon around her temples. Unmarried women and young servant girls sometimes wore a hairstyle that fell just below the shoulders, with ringlets to either side of the face.
An actual wig from an Egyptian mummy - braided with gold beads.
Intricately woven, crimped, and braided hairstyle.