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.
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