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									Mr. Sullivan

N.C. Graduation project

23 October 2009

                               Hairstyles through the years

The practices and techniques for cutting and styling hair have evolved and developed

throughout the years.

       The roots of cosmetology, or the practices of hair care, can be traced back to

barbering in ancient history. Barbering comes from the Latin word meaning beard. It is

basic razors have been found and dated back more the 2000 years. Early Chinese and

Egyptian cultures show men with shaved heads, which show the existence of a barbering

profession. (“Cosmetologist” 657-662) Many influences have determined the way people

have styled their hair over time. Some of the influences include religion, countries, time

period and seasons.

       Religion has been one of the major influences of hairstyles. Christian and

Buddhist monks would shave there heads as an indication of rejecting the world. Muslim

men believed that if they completely shaved their heads and left a single long lock of hair

that Allah would pull them up by their single lock of hair. Traditionally, among Muslims,

hair was concealed in public (

The country in which you lived was and in many cases still is an influence in how you

wear your hair. In early Rome people usually followed Greek styles. The upper class of

Roman society used curling irons. Women dyed their hair blonde or wore wigs made

from the hair of captive civilization slaves. ( “Later hair styles

became ornate with hair curled tight and piled high on the head often around wire frames.

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Hair dressing then became popular and upper classes were attended to by slaves or they

visited barber shops (”

           In Egypt during ceremonies heavy curly black hair was worn. During everyday

life noblemen and women clipped their hair tight to the head. Women wore wigs that

were long and braided with ornaments or ivory hairpins. Men usually kept their face

shaved, but sometimes wore stiff false beards.

          In Africa, there were many tribal customs where hairstyles varied and most styles

usually indicated status. “Masai warriors tied their hair into sections of tiny braids and

wore it at waist length. “The non-warriors and women of the Masai shaved their heads”.

Many tribes greased their hair, some stiffened it with animal dung and others used red

earth to die it. Others simply covered their long hair with scarves and decorated it with


          Native American Indians had many different hair styles based on their region. The

East Coast had shaved heads with hair along the top. Plain Indians had long braided hair

that was decorated with feathers. Aztecs wore their hair with cloth wound into it and

Mayan nobility shaved their heads and wore a headdress. In Japan, men shaved their head

in the front and let the back grow into a short ponytail. Women’s hair had been kept loose

but during the 1600’s it was kept up and arranged with jewelry and pins


          The time period in which you are styling your hair has influenced style and seen

change through the years. If hair styles are examined beginning in the 18th century and

sampled to present day; they show dramatic change over time. In the 18th century style

can be described as the bigger the better. People wore decorated wigs and long curls. The

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styles could take hours to create and stylist used starch and powered to hold it into place.


Times weeks would go by between styling and it was reported that vermin made nesting

areas in the hair. Some went so far as to make mini-bird cages with birds on top of their

heads. Following the 18th century, the Victorians had a more toned down sense of style.

The style they choose depended more on their natural beauty. Hair was kept healthy and

had a very sleek look. Hair was kept neat and anything extreme would be considered

vulgar. (

       The 1940s hairstyles took a more romantic approach with a more natural look.

Most women during this time followed the style of there on-screen idols. In this time

period women fixed their hair with soft curls about the length of the shoulders or enjoyed

the more natural wavy look. During this period, things like shampoo were difficult to

come by, which made it difficult for women because most of them worked out on the

lands or in factories. The more prudent women wore their hair in a neat roll and it

covered most of the ear. Even though their hair was worn neatly, they wore a headscarf

and knotted it at the front of their head. Plastic hair rollers were a very important part of

styling during the 1940’s. They often used the rollers with styling lotion to hold the hair

in place as long as possible. (

       Beginning in the 1950’s women wanted to look as if they were a “domestic

goddess.” At this time in society the thought of being beautiful was well liked. Women

began to style their hair in ways that were harmful and damaging. They would tease or

force there hair to do thing that were not natural in order to achieve flawlessly formed

hair. Most women decided to start visiting the salon on a weekly schedule. Women

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usually received a shampoo and a set. Men, just like women, began to copy the more

popular men of the time which included Elvis Presley and James Dean. Men greased their

hair to the back and most had log heavy sideburns. (

       The best way to describe the 1970’s hair styles was long, free and natural. The

styles that were popular with the women of this time were free falling curls, soft partings

and long fringes. Males also began to use different methods of styling. To better

compliment themselves, they added more detail to the hair like a feathery looking cuts,

highlights and sometimes layers. Near the end of the 1970’s the styles of hair became a

little more dramatic. They would do outrageous things like spiking and adding

fluorescent colors to the hair. (

       As the 1990’s began to take place the styles of hair continued to change. There

was no single style that everyone wore. It seemed that anything was acceptable. There

were however a few popular hairstyles. Two styles that were popular with women

included a style of long hair with layers added in and a short hair with a few layers

chopped in here and there. The only thing that women during this period had in common

was the desire to be blonde with multi-toned highlights. Men style had moved to a shorter

look with most me shaving their heads. Most people at this time considered men’s hair to

long if it was over an inch long. The only thing that men used to clean their hair was

shampoo. (

       As the seasons change so do hair styles. Most people think that their hair grows

faster in the warmer seasons and slower in the colder seasons. People may style their hair

based on this misconception. However, science has proven that hair grows at the same

rate throughout the year. It is more likely that people wear shorter hair during warmer

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weather to remain cooler and more comfortable. The same can be said for long hair

during the colder seasons. During cold weather a person with long hair may not notice a

half of inch growth during a month, but a person with short hair that has grown the same

amount would easily see the new length. (Ohnstad 49-52)

       The circular nature of hairstyles has come and gone through the many centuries

that styling hair has been practiced. There are many reasons why the circular flow of hair

styles began to come and go through time. New fashions, ideas and styles are three of the

factors that caused this circular flow to continue. There is one major reason for this

circular flow and that’s people copying their idols. A good example, as discussed earlier,

would be the 1950’s when people copied Elvis Presley’s slick back style and large side

burns. Some of the styles from generations past continue to come and go through today’s

society. (

       There are many styles and tools used in modern cosmetology that were used in the

past, but most have been improved and are used with new technology and styles. In

today’s salon we would use gel to make the hair more rigid while in tribal Africa they

would use things like animal dung and red mud to make their hair stay stiff and shape. To

dye the hair Africans would normally use red earth and Romans would add gold powder.

The 1960’s woman would have used lemon juice to add highlights and today we color

our hair through a process that uses more chemical reactions. People did not cut their hair

as much in the past as we do today. However, when they did cut it, they used the same

manner as used today. It was simply cut by using scissors ( Another

constant in cosmetology is the desire to give your client what he or she is looking for.

Styles have changed through the centuries and cosmologists have always had to adjust

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and find ways to create what their customers wanted. That holds true for ancient history

through modern day. Holly Stevenson, a hairdresser interviewed for this project, reports

that “the hardest part is trying to figure out what they want. The easiest part is when the

customer knows what they want and they come in prepared. (Stevenson)”

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