Like fashion, hairstyle has evolved and has come a long way since. Also, just like fashion, hairstyle was dependent on so many facets of life that transpired during a particular era. The fashioning of hair can be considered an aspect of personal grooming, fashion, and cosmetics, although practical, cultural, and popular considerations also influence some hairstyles.
The practices and styles done to hair by both men and women alike vary depending from their culture and location. Hairstyle standards was very much different from what was and is being practiced in the West compared to the East. Most often than not, in the West it is more on the aesthetics, while in the East it is more influenced by religion, customs and beliefs.
In the Ancient times we can credit the start of everything with a few existing stable and prosperous civilizations in the West which includes: Egypt, Greece and Rome. Being one of the wealthiest during that time, the Egyptians based their hairstyles very much on the wealth, age and social group the individual circulated in. Both men and women would have shoulder-length hair or hair cut short to the nape or even clean-shaven heads.
Young girls wore a lot of braids or sometimes ponytails. The older men and women would wear wigs to hide their lack of hair or the greyness of it. Not only for aesthetic purpose, due to being exposed to the sun the wig would also be used to help protect the Egyptian’s hair from sun damage. Egyptian women would decorate their hair with flowers and would also use diadems which are similar to tiaras made from gold or garnet but the poor people would decorate their hair with berries and petals. They would also wear headbands. Moreover, on each ringlet of hair they threaded gold tubes to show their wealth and dyed their natural hair with henna.
In Rome, women sported more simple hairstyles usually wearing their hair down and confining it from the face by using a band circling the head. Young girls wore a simple bun at the base of the neck. However, in Ancient Rome, hairstyles became an expression of a person’s identity like for women, their hair indicated how attractive and wealthy she was.
Also, in the Roman times the more complex and outrageous a woman's hairstyle, the more attractive she was because she has spent hours perfecting her style which indicated her wealth. They would use false hair extensions like some women do today to make their hair look thicker and longer. Women would either wear their hair down in ringlets or up in highly, sophisticated braids and knots. They decorated their hair mainly with pearls and jeweled hair pins.
In Greece braiding and longer hair were much popular. They also loved decorating their hair with flowers, headbands, ribbons and pieces of metal. The normal color of hair of Greeks was dark so they tend to find ways to have blonde hair or red hair. Ancient Greece hairstyles also involved sprinkling Gold powder into the hair.
In the Far East, hair styles have taken more of a Western trend over the past few years. But during the early times they were greatly influenced by the culture and traditions. In the period between 320 - 550 AD, in places like India and neighboring countries, women’s hair was generally cut short and they would use longer hair to create a style, if their hair was tied it was in a bun to the side of their head or near the nape of her neck.
Some haircuts were limited to people with high social positions over time, whilst women were to use head pieces with gems and jewels in the forehead. Among the Indian Muslim community, the hair was concealed in public for both men and women. Men would wear a turban or fez. Women would wear a traditional veil called the abaya. Their hairstyle did not change much as most of the women’s hair was black, long, with braids or tied in chignons at the nape.
In Japan it is more evident that hairstyles were affected by one’s profession and stature in society. During the 7th Century noble women wore their hair tight to their head with a sickle-shaped ponytail at the back. But, after this period and up until 1345 fashion dictated that women should wear their hair long and unbound as a sign of beauty. In the Edo Period (1603-1868), women took on much more elaborate styles, in particular they would wear a variety of different buns, decorated with hair sticks, ribbons, flowers and combs. Take for example the very elaborate way the geishas would style their hair and just like kimono-wearing, the donning the geisha’s hairstyle comes with a very elaborate and sacred ceremony.
The Chinese women were different though. Chinese women wore hairstyles that vary depending on the age of the woman and her marital status and the reason for their hair being extremely long was because it was considered disrespectful to cut hair because it was inherited from their parents. Girls (and unmarried women) would usually wear their hair long and braided as for unmarried women. For married women this is reversed as their hair is tied up, with the odd loose curl to show that she is already married. Chinese women also wore hair accessories like hair combs adorned with stones and jewels and silk ribbons which were abundant in China.
Hair styles have changed through out the decades but nowadays it is now dependent on one’s liking and whatever works for the individual. It’s just cool that we’ve come a long way when society and social stature dictates how we should wear our hair. So, I believe we should celebrate this freedom that we get to enjoy.