Throughout times, people have worn their hair in a wide variety of styles. Largely determined by the fashions of the culture they live in. Hairstyles are markers and signifiers of social class, age, marital status, racial identification, political beliefs, and attitudes about gender. Read more about Hairstyle.
In many cultures, often for religious reasons, women’s hair is covered while in public, and in some, such as Haredi Judaism or European Orthodox communities, women’s hair is shaved or cut very short, and covered with wigs. Only since the end of World War I have women begun to wear their hair short and in fairly natural styles.
In ancient civilizations, women’s hair was often elaborately and carefully dressed in special ways. Women coloured their hair, curled it, and pinned it up (ponytail) in a variety of ways.
Between 27 BC and 102 AD, in Imperial Rome, women wore their hair in complicated styles. A mass of curls on top. Or in rows of waves, drawn back into ringlets or braids.
From the time of the Roman Empire until the Middle Ages. Most women grew their hair as long as it would naturally grow.
It was normally little styled by cutting, as women’s hair was tied up on the head and covered on most occasions when outside the home with a snood, kerchief or veil; for an adult woman to wear uncovered and loose hair in the street was often restricted to prostitutes.
Braiding and tying the hair was common. In the 16th century, women began to wear their hair in extremely ornate styles. Often decorated with pearls, precious stones, ribbons and veils.
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From the 16th to the 19th century, European women’s hair became more visible while their hair coverings grew smaller. With both becoming more elaborate, and with hairstyles beginning to include ornamentation such as flowers, ostrich plumes, ropes of pearls, jewels, ribbons.
Bound hair was felt to be symbolic of propriety. Loosening one’s hair was considered immodest and sexual, and sometimes was felt to have supernatural connotations.
During the First World War, women around the world started to shift to shorter hairstyles that were easier to manage.
After the war, women started to wear their hair in softer, more natural styles. In the early 1950s women’s hair was generally curled and worn in a variety of styles and lengths.
In the 1960s, many women began to wear their hair in short modern cuts such as the pixie cut. While in the 1970s, hair tended to be longer and looser.
Today, women and men can choose from a broad range of hairstyles, but they are still expected to wear their hair in ways that conform to gender norms.
Aesthetic Factors of Hair
A hairstyle’s aesthetic considerations may be determined by many factors, such as the subject’s physical attributes and desired self-image or the stylist’s artistic instincts.
Physical factors include natural hair type and growth patterns, face and head shape from various angles, and overall body proportions.
Self-image may be directed toward conforming to mainstream values, identifying with distinctively groomed subgroups (e.g., punk hair), or obeying religious dictates (e.g., Orthodox Jewish, Rastafari…).
A hairstyle is achieved by arranging hair in a certain way, occasionally using combs, a blow-dryer, gel, or other products.
The practice of styling hair is often called hairdressing.
Hairstyle may also include adding accessories (such as headbands or barrettes) to the hair to hold it in place, enhance its ornamental appearance, or partially or fully conceal it with coverings such as a kippa, hijab, tam or turban.
Hair dressing may include cuts, weaves, coloring, extensions, perms, permanent relaxers, curling, and any other form of styling or texturing.
Styling tools may include hair irons (including flat, curling, and crimping irons), hair dryers, and hair rollers. Hair dressing might also include the use of hair product to add texture, shine, curl, volume or hold to a particular style.
Styling products aside from shampoo and conditioner are many and varied. Leave-in conditioner, conditioning treatments, mousse, gels, lotions, waxes, creams, clays, serums, oils, and sprays are used to change the texture or shape of the hair, or to hold it in place in a certain style.
Hair styling is a major world industry, from the salon itself to products, advertising, and even magazines on the subject.
In the United States, most hairstylists are licensed after obtaining training at a cosmetology or beauty school.