Hair care through ages
On one hand hair care was one of the major things in the ancient Egypt, but on the other part there were times in history when people made much more effort on reducing unpleasant odours than real hair care.
In Ancient Egypt healthy hair had an additional meaning because they associated it with sexuality, youth and appeal. The fact that they had more different hairstyles is proven also by tomb scenes or inscriptions. They cleaned their hair with water and citric juices. To hydrate and protect their hair from the weather they used almond oil and castor oil by massaging it into the scalp.
In the old civilisations of Assyria people used to wear curled, black hair. To make it curly they used heated iron bars. And there is nothing new about coloring our hair neither because noble Sumerian women used to do it by using gold dyes. In order to have perfumed hair they used small cones with aromatic scents. In the Babylonian period they started to use henna because they believed the pasta made of the plant had medical effects.
And not to forget about old India, where using natural ingredients were the base of hair care. To hydrate they treated their hair with coconut oil, almond oil or honey while using henna was a common way to make a difference about their hair colour.
Natural oils are popular also today. Read a little more about castor oil.
In Greece long hair was thought to be a present from God and the profession of a barber became really popular already in these ancient times and it had a great influence on the Roman Empire as well regarding barber shops. Hair care was important in both Empires. Massaging the hair, using oils (like olive oil) and lotions or aromatic scents made from flowers was common through the centuries just like trying to change the hair colour.
MIDDLE AGES AND RENAISSANCE
The middle ages brought significant changes in our history and made Germanic people dominating. The influence of The Catholic Church was really strong in this period. For the Germans, long hair had a great importance and it even showed some kind of hierarchies about military and social life. Shorn hair was for slaves and prisoners. Even these days wearing long hair was not something only for women. A change was generated by the Catholic Church around the 10th century when they started to give advice about how long hair to have and how to wear it to be a good Christian. Women had really long hair and it had an erotic feature, but as years passed by they started to cover it with veils following the instructions of the Catholic Church.
Trotula di Ruggiero, a celebrity of the period wrote her work about cosmetics including hair care and her pieces of advice were widely followed. For colouring he advised shell of walnut, oak apples, oriental crocus and henna, while hair growth was intended to be encouraged with a mixture of barley bread, salt and bear fat. In addition elm bark, linseed and the root of reed said to have the same effect if they were cooked with goat milk or water. The problem caused by dandruff was solved by vinegar, rosemary water, mint and other herbs.
The Renaissance was kind of general rebirth. Changes happened in culture, religion and of course also in hairstyles. Blond hair became really very popular and desired. Even Nostradamus wrote his own work about elixirs of beauty and gave advice to women about how to gain this hair colour. His unctions contained ashes, rainwater, lemon, linseed, safflower, cumin and also some ingredients that sound really strange if the work is about hair care. These were the moulted skin of a snake, oil of a live lizard or fat bacon just for a few examples. It is still natural, but besides vegetable matter, they opened to zoogenic ingredients.
If you would ask me to say one single word about the eighteenth century regarding the appearance of people I would say artificial. In these years hair was still a very important part of style, but there was a huge change about the desirable look. The nobles wanted gross and amazing hair so they started to use wigs. And not only the women. The happenings in history have an effect on the fashion as well and hairstyles became more sober…
As the last century passed by, considerable changes came again in hair care as well. Besides cleaning, nourishing and colouring the hair there was a new demand and it was about fixing. Gentlemen started to use waxes and oils for this reason. The most successful product was called Macassar oil, which was made of coconut oil, palm oil and ylang-ylang. These were the years when the first beauty salons were established and big brands came into life just like Procter and Gamble. Hair care and hairdressing reached a new level by creating the barber licence and declaring the educational and practical requirements of the profession of a barber.
From the 20th century, it was not the noblesse, but the cinema to define the fashion. The fashion which was so unsteady just like the happenings in the history of the century. Political, economical or social events all had their effects on hairstyles which became a way of showing what people thought, what values they kept worth to follow … or denied to follow. This century brought the first perm machines, hair dryers and such big names in cosmetic industry like L’oreal, Clairol, Revlon or Schwarzkopf. It all meant that these days were not about home-made mixtures like in the past. If we have a look at hair care today we can easily see that it has become an industry, since people bought their first shampoo or special products for hair colouring.
If you would like to read more about the history of hair care, I encourage you to visit the page that helped me a lot about collecting these pieces of information: