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Traditional hairstyle of a Japanese bride

Hairstyle or hairstyle describes the way in which the main hair is worn. In principle, any hair, whether human or animal, can be styled if it is not too hard, although the greatest effort is naturally made in shaping the human scalp hair .

Hair fashions

The hairstyle is given great importance in many cultures. Occasionally, it becomes a problem for people who have problems with their scalp hair (for example due to natural baldness or as a result of chemotherapy ) who are unable to wear their hair in the desired or socially expected manner. Women feel this more than men. The lack of hair can be masked by wigs , toupees , combing over or hair transplants .

Many times and cultures have produced their own hair styles, be it as an expression of an (elitist) social group or as a sign of a more or less pronounced non-conformism .

For example, in the 18th century the Prussian soldier's braid was mandatory, although it was a hindrance. After the French Revolution, the braid on men 's wigs was perceived as backward. In the Chinese Revolution of 1911 , the usual pigtail men's hairstyle , which had been widespread until the Qing dynasty, was no longer required by law as a relic of the imperial era.

It has been observed for a long time that some artists and public figures “stand out from the crowd” with their special hairstyles or that certain hairstyles are one of their “trademarks”. Well-known examples are Franz Liszt (who had particularly long hair), Elvis Presley , the Beatles, the Leningrad Cowboys (whose hairstyle is supposed to be a parody of Elvis Presley). The members of the American hard rock band Kiss appeared in public from 1973 to 1983 wearing only make-up and striking hairstyles.

Depending on the requirements and the situation, shaping a hairstyle can take up to an hour or longer, which usually prompts the wearer to protect his hairstyle from adverse weather such as rain or storm and from being touched by others. In order to (short-term) correspond to a certain fashion, wigs are also often used, for example in the baroque or in English jurisdiction. In Ireland this tradition, which had existed since 1660, was abolished in 2011.

History of hairstyles

Ancient Egypt (3150–332 BC)

It is known from grave finds that the Egyptians used knives, hairpins and combs to groom their hair as early as 4000 years before Christ . As early as 3000 BC, artistic wigs were worn on important occasions. Even then, one's own hair or wigs were colored. For this purpose, blue, green and red-blonde shades as well as gold dust were used most often, the most popular hair color was blonde. Various hair dyes were available, since most rich women had time to have their hair bleached in the sun after washing. The hair was considered to be the most beautiful jewelry and accordingly a lot of effort was made with it. There were a variety of fashionable hairstyles, with clasps, ribbons, braids, hoods.

Ancient Greece (1500–150 BC)

In Athens, looking good and well-groomed was so important that a special tribunal was set up to rule on matters of clothing. Women who wore a messy hairstyle in public have been fined. Among the Greeks, body hair was unpopular with both men and women. The often complicated looking hairstyles with long, flowing locks consisted entirely of wigs. The poorer people had wigs made of sheep's wool. In the period from 1500 to 650 BC Greek women often wore long, curly hair. Corkscrew curls are also often seen on frescoes, falling from the ears to the chest. A little later, women had their hair gathered in a bun at the back of their necks. This hairstyle was known as the "Greek knot".

In the period from 300 to 150 BC Artful knots and bows shaped the hairstyles. During this time the Greek women tried to lighten their naturally dark hair with saffron. Blonde was considered the hair color of the gods. For the Greeks, hairstyles were also men's business, they initially wore long hair and beards. Later, short and curly hair became fashionable. In the period from 300 to 150 BC BC fashion-conscious townspeople wore half-length hairstyles and preferred curly or wavy hair. The Greeks already had a special device for shaping their hair: a calamistrum, a hollow bronze rod .

Roman Empire (800 BC-700 AD)

knot of the man from Osterby (around 75–130 AD)
Sabina on Alexandrian tetradrachm, year 13 of Hadrian's reign
Hairstyles of four empresses of the Severan dynasty on Roman denarii (3rd century AD)

From the excavations of ancient coins on which women's heads were depicted, we know that in ancient Rome mostly simple hairstyles were worn. There are two basic types: short curly hairstyles and braided hairstyles. In the Roman Empire, when it came to the fashion of the hairstyle, women at court were kept. It was customary to wear the hairstyle that the empress was currently wearing. Coin portraits of Empress Sabina , the wife of Emperor Hadrian, tell us about particularly elaborate hairstyles .

At the time of the republic one wore a simple topknot . Dressed up and perfumed hair was worn only by prostitutes. Nevertheless, this fashion was very popular with young men. And so this “taboo hairstyle” was taken up again. The fragrances for perfuming the hair were very expensive because they were imported from the Far East. They mostly consisted of myrrh, rose or iris oil. At that time the hair was mostly shaped by a slave. Roman women were fascinated by the blonde hair of the Germanic peoples, they often had Germanic slaves whose hair they cut and made into wigs for themselves. Hair and wigs were used to support the hairstyle and to hide flaws. A curling iron was used to create the curls, comparable to calamistrum, which was heated in a fire.

For hair colors that could not be achieved with natural wigs, or for women who did not want the nakedness of a wig, the hair was colored. The most popular hair colors of the Roman women were black and blonde. Various dyes were also used. One means of achieving a jet black hair color was by decaying leeches soaked in a sealed jar with wine and vinegar for sixty days. The much sought-after blonde was achieved using a foaming detergent made from goat fat and birch ash. The Celts and Teutons had already washed their hair with it. Initially, the Greek women only used this soap to bleach their hair, the cleaning power was only discovered later. Wealthy Roman women had their hair optically lightened with expensive gold dust. Some hair dyes were obtained from Northern Europe, others from Egypt, such as the red from henna powder. The hair was also dyed blue. In addition, women began to complement the hairstyle with all kinds of jewelry. Needles that held the hairstyle were made of gold, silver, bronze, wood or ivory, among other things, which was imported from Africa. The idea of ​​the tiaras originated from ribbons that were used to hold the hairstyles together. The Romans used polished bronze or silver as a mirror. Glass mirrors did not exist until the 1st century AD. In ancient Rome, too, leg hair and armpit hair were occasionally removed. Tweezers were used for this. Pastes made from resin dissolved in oil existed.

Romanesque (1000–1200)

In the High Middle Ages, noble ladies and gentlemen liked to wear loose curls. Those who had straight hair let it waved. In contrast to the rich, the common people wore their hair as a short or half-length page hairstyle. Noble women wore a flat bonnet that covered the hair on their heads, revealing the braids adorned with ribbons and gold thread.

Gothic (1140–1500)

In the Gothic era , the church stipulated that married women were no longer allowed to show their hair in public. Women wore hats and hoods, some with veils. A high forehead was considered particularly beautiful and so women shaved off their forehead hair to correct the hairline upwards.

After the plague epidemic of the 14th century, a new zest for life became noticeable, which was reflected in hairdressing fashion. Their hair was parted in the middle. This was pinned up and braided into braids and then placed in a circle around the head, either from the back or front of the head. Alternatively, hair tied in braid was looped around the ears in large loops. In the 15th century, married women again withdrew their hair from strangers under hood. This underlined the dependence of the woman on the husband.

Renaissance (1400-1700)

Piero di Cosimo - Portrait de femme dit de Simonetta Vespucci - Google Art Project.jpg
Braided hairstyle, Florence, 15th century
Lucrezia Panciatichi by Angelo Bronzino - detail 2.jpg
Renaissance Venetian hairstyle , around 1540

In the Renaissance , the body and hair were allowed to be shown again. The hairstyles became more imaginative, while at the same time simple hairstyles of the Romans and Greeks were taken over again and light shades such as blonde and gold came into fashion, attempts were made to achieve this with natural dyes. Hairstyles were adorned with precious stones, ribbons and pearls. The men's hairstyles were simpler than those of the women. Rich or poor, they all had similar hairstyles.

During the Renaissance, a high forehead was regarded as an expression of special cleverness and not only the forehead hair was plucked and balloon-shaped structures held by ribbons appeared. Finally, hair parted in the middle and pinned into a large bun at the back of the head replaced the practice of plucking hair until a simpler hair style followed around AD 1500. Hair parted in the middle was combed close to the face over the cheeks and ears and tied at the nape of the neck. The back of the head was covered with a fine net and a band, often decorated with jewels, reached over the forehead. For young men, a hairstyle with half-length, heavily teased hair became typical. A short curly head, which left the upper part smooth, in order to then emerge all the more curly, should embody the ideal of the eternal youth.

Late Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo (1575–1770)

Typical late rococo hairstyle , around 1770/80

In the Baroque period, men with “Spanish costumes” with very high collars were widespread, so men preferred short hair. The women kept their hair long, but combed it either backwards or upwards, where it was secured with a wire frame. Around 1630 women wore a hairstyle with heavily curled side hair and short, straight bangs that created a broad face. After 1650, such hairstyles disappeared. The women were then dominated by a cross and a round crown. Fringe of curls or bangs covered the forehead. Men grew their hair after 1650 and curly heads and goatees were fashionable. For example, the French King Ludwig the 13th, who went bald early, had a curly wig made to cover his flaw.

The second half of the 17th century was the time of the corkscrew and ringlets. Thanks to the newly developed papillotier technology, men with curled hair could also come up with it. These reached over the ears and often let strands of hair decorated with gifts from the loved ones fall over the left shoulder. Extravagant festivals at the beginning of the 18th century replaced the constraints of the previously prevailing etiquette. The noticeable pursuit of simplicity resulted in a modest way of life at court with correspondingly simple hairstyles. Lying close to the head, the hair was combed from the forehead and loosely tied in a bun.

In the middle of the 18th century, curly hairstyles with the use of a hot rod, powder and pomade became popular . For the men of the bourgeoisie, this trend ended in elaborate wigs with braids, bags and curls. Even the French army introduced small wigs, the hair of which was tied at the nape of the neck and placed in a black taffeta pouch. The second half of the 18th century dominated high hairstyles, which were created using elastic lower pillows made of wool and wire. Towards the end of the Baroque period, women had their hair combed back up and some women grew up to 60 centimeters taller this way.

French Revolution and 19th Century

Friedrich Wilhelm III. v. Prussia on two thalers with plait (year 1801), short hair (year 1814)
Typical hairstyle of the Empire , around 1813
Typical Biedermeier hairstyle , around 1845

In the Biedermeier period, wigs disappeared and Roman and Greek hairstyles came to the fore again. From 1804, decorative combs, tiaras, bonnets and silk ribbons were increasingly used for women's hairstyles, and T-, V-, Y- or U-shaped partings were mostly fashionable. Women had to wear headgear, ie hoods, hats or turbans, which were anything but comfortable with the often high hairstyles. Later on, women's hairstyles were often characterized by a broad knot attached to the back of the head. Colorful or symmetrically arranged papillots adorned the sides.

Even princely houses followed the bourgeois hairstyle fashions. While King Friedrich Wilhelm III. of Prussia with a braid on Prussian thalers, from this year it will only appear with a short hairstyle (see picture on the right). With the depiction on coins, his respective hairstyle also has a sovereign character. Since the considerable change in his hairstyle took place in the Wars of Liberation, a propagandistic intention to win over the bourgeoisie is obvious.

Around 1830 the papillots developed into large curls that almost completely covered the ears. Incorporation of hair combs or different strictly aligned top hairs offered variety. In the case of young men who wanted to break away from the traditionalists, short-cropped hair combed into their foreheads and pronounced sideburns testified to a democratic attitude. The wearing of beards came into fashion and culminated in 1846 with a beard ban for Prussian trainee lawyers and post office workers.

In the second half of the 19th century, more people than ever before could afford to go to the hairdresser. In the beginning it was mostly French hairstyles that were characterized by a central parting. In Austria, meanwhile, Empress Elisabeth made headlines with her long hair adorned with flowers. In the 1860s, the woman of rank occupied herself with hair work primarily for representative purposes as a pastime. A decade later, elaborate ornaments, hair combs and artificial hairpieces almost completely disappeared from the streets. Natural and simple hairstyles were given preference. The “right” hair color gained crucial importance; red hair was considered vulgar, especially the red dyeing of blonde or light brown hair.

Around 1870 hair was combed up again and decorated with jewelry. Undulation was invented in 1872 . The hair was pulled over a hot iron, creating a wave, and this "weft hairstyle" became fashionable for a long time. In the 1880s, hairstyles with slightly wavy hair were created that were pulled over the ears to the back of the head and ended there in a knot. There were also soft ringlets or pony fringes worn on the forehead. However, by 1890 there were almost no high hairstyles; they have been replaced by simple and functional hairstyles. Men's hairstyles were initially curly, but towards the end of the 19th century, short hairstyles became popular.

20th century

Open hair, 1920, etching by Ernst Oppler
Up 1941
Headscarf hairstyle 1940
Curly hairstyle of the forties (1947)

At the beginning of the Weimar Republic , screen stars of the booming film industry introduced short haircuts. Based on the general enthusiasm for ancient Egyptian culture, page cuts came into fashion. With these, the hair fell almost straight from the parting onto the full, clear contour. The changing position of women was evident in new hairstyles. For the first time, a French star hairdresser allowed himself to cut women’s hair short, and a short time later the bob with a short cut at the neck and low volume became the epitome of fashion of the 1920s. Regardless of age and social class, women who were very fashionable wore short, combed hair.

The permanent wave followed towards the end of the decade . AEG introduced the first hair dryer in 1900 . At first it weighed two kilograms and blew 90 ° C hot air out of a kind of nozzle pipe, the models continued to develop and weighed only 1.8 kilograms and produced 300 watts.

A high point in 1936 was the “Olympic scroll”, which was pulled deep into the neck and rolled upwards, accompanied by the page hairstyle that was widespread with the films. With its straight contours turned inwards in the neck area, combined with the Olympic roll, it met the taste of the younger generation. New technical aids such as electric hair clippers and dryer hoods made it easier for hairdressers to do their craft during this time. In 1936 it became fashionable to curl the forehead hair into small curls and to gather the top hair in a simple neck roll and the hair was worn longer again. Towards the end of the 1930s, the curls of the top hair were often combed up and the shoulder-length hair was styled back to the side, the curls falling loosely down the neck. This hairstyle remained in fashion even during the war.

Due to the work of women during the war, hairnets and headscarves were worn to hold hair together. Over time, this necessity became a popular headdress. Men again showed little variation during this period. They wore their hair short until after World War II.

Women preferred half-length naturally swinging hairstyles after World War II. The perm, which could now be made cold, continued to play an important role in the world of hair. In the 1950s, the hairstyles of film actors and celebrities were again preferred to be imitated. Rock 'n' Roll became a new way of life for many people and Elvis Presley's hairstyle was copied by men.

From 1960 the tower hairstyle prevailed among women , which was gradually replaced by long hairstyles over the course of the decade. With the success of the Beatles and their mushroom heads, long hairdos came into fashion for men in the 1960s . Long-hair fashion was dominant among teenagers and young men until the 1980s, while older men mostly stuck to the traditional short haircut during this period. In the mid-1960s, a new style of music emerged in Jamaica: reggae . With the role model effect of Bob Marley came dreadlocks hairstyle made of plaited braids or matted strands of hair. If you wanted a hairstyle like this, you had to wash your hair with soap and water and neither comb nor brush it. Over time, the hair becomes matted.

In the 1970s, colored punk hairstyles and mohawk cuts appeared. Punk hairstyles still shocked most people in the 1970s, but within a decade it became relatively commonplace. With women in the 1980s, curly hairstyles were again popular, often as a distinctive lion's mane.


Afro look
Afro look
A hairstyle that was particularly widespread in the 1970s, the name of which is derived from the frizzy hair structure of African Americans .
Short haircut, the hair ends on the face just below the cheekbones, worn with bangs or side parting.
A braided hairstyle consisting of many small pigtails that is braided in three strands and has its origin in West Africa. See also dreadlocks.
Bob haired
A short haircut for women since the 1920s.
Brush cut
Brush cut
( see also "standing hairstyle"): a short haircut in which the entire head of the hair is upright. As a haircut for soldiers, it was common in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. In the Wehrmacht, however, quite long top hair was common. In the 1950s, triggered by the US GIs used in the Korean War, the brush was also referred to as the “Korea Blocker”. See also Mecki hairstyle
Beehive hairstyle
(Beehive hairstyle) was created in 1959 as a variant of the then popular, high-piled hairstyles.
The characteristic hairstyle of the samurai , in which the hair on the top of the head is shaved and then a ponytail is folded on the head. Nowadays this haircut is worn by sumo wrestlers .
Hair that is naturally frizzy is chemically straightened ; great popularity among African Americans between 1920 and 1960
Are especially popular with people with frizzy hair. Small braids are woven close to the head in various ways.
It is created when the hair's internal chemical bonds ( hydrogen sulfide bridges ) are destroyed and rearranged. The open ends do not close completely. The hairdresser Karl Ludwig Nessler from Todtnau in Baden , who later emigrated to the USA , is considered to be the inventor of the permanent wave .
A kind of further developed quiff, the most distinctive feature of which is the long strand, shaped into a point with the help of spray or gel, which hangs down in front of the face or on the sides. It is worn by v. a. by members of the punk bands Misfits and Balzac and their fans.
hair matted in strands. This hairstyle was popularized by the Rastafarians .
Style cut
Medium-length men's cut in which the hair on the sides and in the neck is cut steplessly.
The hair is cut very short on the sides. The upper guard hair is a little longer. This hairstyle is also known under the name boxer haircut . More information can be found in the article mohawk .
In English, a female hairstyle is called in which part of the hair is braided or pinned up, while the rest of the hair falls down loosely.
Hot wave
(no longer common today) perm , in which the hair is wound over heated coils.
Contemporary mohawk and ponytail
Topknot , chignon, bun
on the back of the head or on the crown of the head, rarely near the forehead, hair braided or coiled in a bun.
With this hairstyle, the head hair is shaved on the sides or shortened to a few millimeters, only a strip of hair remains in the middle. This is often set up vertically with hair lacquer or other aids such as gelatine or sugar water, sometimes also colored; this hairstyle is common among punks .
Hedgehog cut
very popular in the 1980s - basically this is a weakened mullet - short on top (and prickly, hedgehog-like protruding) and also short on the back - but not shaved. Over time, the hedgehog cut becomes a mullet if the neck area is left out at the hairdresser's.
Cold wave
without heating of the curlers using chemicals spawned perm .
medieval hairstyle.
Short haircut
Short haircut that leaves the ears and neck free.
Lure wave
Curly hairstyle with smaller waves.
Mecki hairstyle
Made famous in Central Europe by American GIs in the post-war period, named after the comic figure Mecki .
Knife shape cut
short haircut, in which wet hair is cut with a razor [and shaped with a blow dryer]; Knife cut
(from French: mini pli , German: "small fold") consists of tiny curls that are created by a permanent wave. It is often found in combination with a mullet .
"Nubian Knots"
consists of coiled hair snails and has its origin in Africa.
Olympic roll
Women's hairstyle that came into fashion in Germany in the mid-1930s.
Girl with a Pagebreak (1922)
Page head
A half-length haircut (mostly chin length, occasionally longer), often worn with bangs.
Longer hair that is gathered at the back of the head.
Mushroom head
Hairstyle that the members of the rock group The Beatles wore in the early 1960s.
Women's short hairstyle that was very fashionable in the 1960s and made a comeback in the 2010s.
Bangs or forehead fringes
The front hair falling on the forehead is cut off horizontally above the eyes.
Rasta curls are a hairstyle from Africa in which the hair is braided in such a way that many small braids are created.
Round cut
Haircut in which the hair is cut to about the same length so that the hairstyle has round contours.
Middle parting, caricature by Theo Lingen
The hair is combed from as straight a line as possible on both sides. A distinction is made between middle parting (colloquially also bottom parting) and side parting. Towards the end of the 20th century, the zigzag parting came into fashion, for which there are separate combs.
Cut hairstyle
Hairstyle brought out by cutting the hair
Also called "fuse", is a child's hairstyle that is mostly worn by boys. With the tail hairstyle, the neck is shaved except for a strip of hair that grows down the back.
"Silky Dreads"
A hairstyle that is similar to the dreadlocks . However, with the Silky Dreads, the hair is not matted, but braided into braids and wrapped with synthetic hair or wool.
Punk hairstyle in which the hair protrudes from the head in the form of spikes. Particularly extreme forms are also called "Liberty Spikes" based on the Statue of Liberty.
"Standing hairstyle"
Describes a hairstyle in which the hair is either cut short or the hair is fixed in a vertical position with hair gel, foam or hair lacquer. There are various forms of this hairstyle from military uniform hairstyles to the typical mohawk of the punk movement.
Originally a schoolboy expression for hairstyle in general, it became colloquially specifically the Schmalztolle or Schmalzlocke. A short haircut popular in the 1950s in which the hair is combed up from the forehead and secured with pomade . A well-known porter was Elvis Presley . This hairstyle is also known as "pompadour".
was a way of shaving hair among monks , in which the skull is shaved except for a short fringe of hair.
Pot section , Reindl section (Austrian)
The top hair is longer than the back hair and is cut off at the level of the ears. The hair below is much shorter without being tiered.
Virtue arrow hairdress
Up until the end of the 19th century, girls in the region on the left bank of the Rhine around Koblenz put braids together on the back of their heads and held them in place with a special, particularly wide hairpin, the “virtue arrow”. This hairstyle was only worn until the marriage, during the so-called virginity.
Tower hairstyle
is a braided hairstyle that is braided with the two-strand twist technique and impresses with its spiral look. Like braids and cornrows, the twists have their origins in Africa .
The lower half of the hairstyle is severely shortened, but the longer, higher hair is left standing. The whole thing looks like a very wide mohawk, with the neck area also shaved. Particularly popular among Goths , punks and (industrial) metal / crossover fans, back in fashion since 2011/2012 and widespread since then.
Mullet hairstyle
The acronym is derived from the description of the hairstyle: vo rne ku March, hi nth la ng. It was especially fashionable in the 1980s.
Water wave
This form of curling was particularly popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The slightly moistened hair is shaped into gentle waves with special clamps lying close to the head, then blow-dried and fixed with a spray.
is a hairstyle braided from several strands of hair.

Patents, utility models and trademarks

In 1975, Frank and Donald Smith from Orlando, Florida, applied for a patent in the USA for a hair-laying technique that makes it possible to cover half-baldness without foreign hair. The patent was granted in 1977, but the absolute novelty (an indispensable prerequisite for the granting of a patent ) at the time of application must be doubted, as the hairstyle was already known in the 1950s and 1960s and can be observed, for example, with Heinz Erhardt could. In English this style is called comb over . In Japan, such a haircut is referred to as bākōdo na kamigata ( バ ー コ ー ド な 髪 型 ), so a " barcode-like hairstyle ".

Other meanings

In a figurative sense, “hairdressing” is used when objects are upgraded through targeted modification, for example by a “hairdressed” moped . It is also called the targeted modification of financial statements with the aim of falsifying the balance sheet .

See also


  • Christian Janecke: Portable Storms. About spurting hair and gust of wind hairstyles. Jonas Verlag , Marburg 2003, ISBN 978-3-89445-320-6 .
  • Maria Jedding-Gesterling and Rolf Hurschmann (eds.): The hairstyle. A cultural history of hair fashion from antiquity to the present. Illustrated on art objects from the Schwarzkopf Collection and international museums. Munich 1988.
  • Marian I. Doyle: An illustrated history of hairstyles 1830-1930 . Atglen, 2003, ISBN 0-7643-1734-2 .
  • Geraldine Biddle-Perry: A cultural history of hair , 6 volumes, London a. a., 2019 (collection of articles) ISBN


Web links

Commons : Hair fashion  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hairstyle  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See Sandro Wiggerich: The body as a uniform. The standardization of the soldier's hairstyle in Prussia and the Federal Republic. In: Sandro Wiggerich, Steven Kensy (Ed.): State Power Uniform. Uniforms as a symbol of state power in transition? (= Studies on the history of everyday life 29). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-515-09933-2 , pp. 161-183.
  2. manager magazin: New look: Irish judges no longer have to wear wigs - manager magazin - Lifestyle. Retrieved July 22, 2020 .
  3. The hair in the old days. The Sumerians, the Arcadians, Babylon, China, India.
  4. Beloved, hated Afro-look , Süddeutsche Zeitung of May 17, 2010
  5. Half Up Hairstyles ; Half up hairstyles
  6. German in focus: Minipli ,, accessed on January 5, 2011
  8. Wirtschaftslexikon Gabler: Dressing the balance , accessed on February 5, 1014