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The History of Beauty
History of hair
Renaissance 14th to the 17th century
In the 15th century, upper-class ladies of northern Europe painfully plucked their hairline to make their foreheads seem higher, and scraped their hair back under an elaborate headdress. In the warmer climate of Italy, women displayed their hair in plaits and under low, jeweled turbans or caps. Blond hair was considered to be a sign of beauty and high class. As a result, both men and women attempted to turn their hair blond by using bleach, saffron or onion skin dye, or, in the case of Italian women, by sitting for hours in a crownless hat in the sun.
Elizabethan 1558 – 1603
In the 16th century, after Francis I of France accidentally burned his hair with a torch, men began to wear short hair and grew short beards and mustaches. Of course, Queen Elizabeth was instrumental in setting the female trends for this era (thus the name). Society women copied her naturally pale complexion and red hair, using white powder in great abundance, along with red wigs. The most successful means for re-creating Elizabeth's pallor, unfortunately, was ceruse, or white lead, which was later discovered to be poisonous. Inspired by Italian women, the Elizabethan lady would also give a healthy glow to her cheeks by using lead-based rouge colored with dye. She'd color in her eyebrows, lips and even blue veins with alabaster pencils. For the final touch, she'd apply a thin glaze of egg-white paste to hold it all together.
18th Century 1700 -1799
In the 18th century fashionable wealthy men wore white-powdered wigs tied back into a long braid at the back of the neck and encased in a black silk bag, or tied with a black bow. Some men wore their own hair in this same braided style. In the early part of the 18th century, society women had trim, crimped or curled heads, powdered and decorated with garlands or bows. By the 1770s, coiffures built over horsehair pads or wire cages and powdered with starch were all the rage. Some extended three feet in the air and had springs to adjust the height. They were extravagantly adorned with feathers, ribbons, jewels, and even ships, gardens and menageries. Such constructions required several hours of work every one to three weeks. Between sessions the undisturbed coiffure was likely to attract vermin. In the 1780s, a reaction against formality and extravagance led to the hérisson (hedgehog) style for men and women, a loose, bushy mass of curls.
Victorian 1837 - 1901
The puritanical Victorian era advocated a modest, natural beauty, restrained and without makeup. Middle- and upper-class women used cosmetics less, but did not abandon them completely. Beyond face powders, more audacious colored makeup was reserved for prostitutes and actresses, who wore it only on stage. Society placed great emphasis on hygiene and health, and many women's magazines warned against the toxic qualities of lead-based industrial cosmetics. Beginning in the 1840s, women's heads were sleek and demure, the hair oiled and smoothed down over the temples with long sausage curls at the side and later with a heavy knot of curls or plaits in back. In the 19th century men tended to keep their hair relatively short, sometimes curled and dressed with macassar oil. Most men wore some variety of mustache, sideburns or beard.
During the "Roaring Twenties," societal trends reacted against the puritanical Victorian standards of beauty. Popular new short "bobbed," waved or shingled hairstyles symbolized the growing freedom of women. The impact of cinema was felt for the first time, as women increasingly took their beauty cues from film stars such as Louise Brooks and Clara Bow. The heavy use of makeup also returned to fashion in this era. Generally, white women applied pale powder and cream rouge circles to the cheeks, plucked their eyebrows and penciled in thin arches, and painted their lips very red, emphasizing the cupid's bow of the upper lip. Fashion-conscious white men wore their hair parted in or near the center and slicked back with brilliantine — an oily, perfumed substance that added shine and kept hair in place. This look was popularized by screen idols such as Rudolph Valentino. Some African-American males adopted the "conk," a hairstyle popularized by entertainer Cab Calloway. The conk was an attempt to straighten the hair and was accomplished by enduring a truly painstaking process of "relaxing" with a solution dominated by lye.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood starlets continued to set the trends in women's fashion. Longer, more feminine hairstyles became popular again, and women immediately copied Bette Davis' curls, Betty Grable's topknot with ringlets, and Rita Hayworth's gleaming waves. Veronica Lake created a sensation by wearing a lock of hair that covered one eye. The hairstyle that most symbolized the era, however, was parted on the side, with soft curls falling over the shoulder. Also, for the first time, tanned skin (for both men and women) began to be perceived as a symbol of high class — again showing the influence of screen stars on standards of beauty. Men continued to wear their hair short and often slicked back with oil, and skinny, trimmed mustaches were popularized by stars such as Errol Flynn.
In the uncertain times following the end of World War II, tradition and conservative values made a big comeback. The glamorous woman at home, able to attend to all domestic chores without a hair out of place, became a popular image. As a result, many women spent an inordinate amount of time living up to the '50s ideal of beauty. The "doe eye," created with shadow on the lids, eyebrow pencil, mascara and heavy eyeliner; along with a pale complexion and intensely colored lips, became fashionable. Women's hair suffered even greater abuse. It was teased, styled, sculpted and sprayed at the salon every week into a helmet of perfectly formed curls, waves and bouffants. Hip white men wore their hair in a D.A. (short for Duck's Ass). Formed by combing the hair back on the side of the head and holding it in place with hair grease, the hairstyle was created by Philadelphia barber Joe Cirella in 1940 and took off when it was worn by television, movie and music stars such as James Dean and Elvis Presley. The D.A. was usually coupled with long, thick sideburns — making their first appearance on men's faces since the 19th century — and a high-crowned poof of hair brushed straight back off the forehead called the pompadour.
In the 1960s women were once again moving out of the domestic sphere and into the workplace, pursuing careers as well as an education. As a result, in the early to mid-1960s women reacted against the time-consuming, complex hairstyles of the '50s and opted for more practical short styles (often variations of the 1920s bob), or long, straight hair. There was only one makeup look throughout the 1960s: dark eyes paired with pale lips (or, by the late '60s, no makeup at all). Popular culture, especially rock 'n' roll, gained ascendancy in generating standards of fashion and beauty. When the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, their "mop tops" created a revolution in men's hairstyles — making long hair fashionable for the first time since the 18th century. Social movements such as Black Power and the anti-Vietnam War campaign also helped shape the conception of beauty in the '60s. Many African-Americans rejected white-influenced styles such as the conk, and adopted the Afro as a sign of black pride. The influence of psychedelics and the hippie movement advocated a natural, wild look for men and women and a complete rejection of cosmetics.
The social revolution spawned in the 1960s took root in the '70s, and the standards of beauty reflected this upheaval. In fact, hair became the symbol of the era in more ways than one, evolving into perhaps the most powerful means of projecting an image or making a statement. For most of the decade, men and women of all ethnicities wore their hair long, natural and above all free. Farrah Fawcett's loose mane of freely falling curls, bronzed skin and glossy lips created a sensation in 1976, as did Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill's short-and-sassy wedge cut. Men adapted Farrah's "wingback" style into the center-parted, "feathered" hairstyles worn by teen idols such as Leif Garret and the Bee Gees. The Afro hairstyle remained popular and was also adopted by many white men and women, though a closer-cropped version, such as that worn by Muhammad Ali, was becoming fashionable. Toward the end of the decade the punk movement arose in opposition to the hippie-influenced values of the era. Punks created a deliberately shocking, provocative look that included spiked hairdos dyed bright fluorescent colors, shaved and tattooed scalps, facial piercings and spectacular makeup.
In the 1980s the "age of excess" was easily translated into hairstyles, in general — the bigger, the better. Pop stars such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper popularized a style that included heavy makeup with vibrant neon colors and intentionally messed-up and off-colored hair. Michael Jackson sported the "jheri curl," a sparkling wet-looking, heavily processed version of the Afro. Decidedly less audacious middle-class white teen-age boys adapted the punk-influenced spiked hairstyle, which sometimes included a small braid at the back of the neck (the "rat tail"). Androgyny also made a stunning impact in the '80s, from Sinead O'Connor's shaved head to heavy metal "hair bands" with their makeup and explosion of long, dyed hair. In opposition to these trends, a neoconservative "preppy" look was also in, popularizing traditional short hairstyles for men and women.
In the 1990s standards of beauty were incredibly diverse and constantly changing. Model Kate Moss created a disturbing standard of extreme thinness, sometimes referred to as "heroin chic" from the strung-out, emaciated appearance of the face and body. The "grunge" movement in rock music popularized an unkempt, natural style in opposition to the heavily artificial looks of the '80s. Long, matted and unstyled hair characterized the grunge look. Tongue, eyebrow and nose piercings (for both men and women) also came into vogue in the '90s and even crossed into the "mainstream" of youth culture. Michael Jordan made shaving the head a popular "hairstyle" for men of all races. Jennifer Aniston of the sitcom Friends created a brief hairstyle fad with her modern version of the '60s shag. The "Rachel" cut was sleeker, with longer layers and face-framing highlights.
My journey to become a hairdresser started at the age of 6. I went to school in Norway and have been trying out every part of the industry, from owning my own salon, competing and making wigs and toupees. I also been doing some stage work, and have loved every minute of it, so after 35 years now in 2017, I still love what i do.