After years of studying photographs, I have seen many fascinating details about nineteenth century life, but it’s the hair that often stands out. Short, long, curled and coiffed manes were as trendy as the dresses and suits our ancestors wore in every era. Unique hairstyles–some functional and some fanciful–accompanied each fashion cycle.
Here are some fast facts about hairstyles of the 1800s:
- Most women of the Victorian era wore hairpieces, be it a set of curls or a comb with hair added to it. Hairpieces and other accoutrements, including entire wigs, were available by mail-order.
- Hair dye was commonly available in the 1800s for both men and women.
- While facial hair for men wasn’t acceptable until the mid-1800s, many men wore false beards and mustaches in their leisure time.
- Hair products and devices, including curling irons, were popular for both men and women.
- Hair was brushed about 100 times a day. But they didn’t wash it except about one a month. And there was no such thing as shampoo until late in the nineteenth century.
Learn more about popular hairdos for men, women and children in the 1840s, 1850s, 1860s, 1870s, 1880s and 1890s in my book Hairstyles: 1840-1900. There you’ll find tons of examples and detailed explanations, which can help you reproduce a look from a certain era or identify photographs based on the hairstyles you see in them. And don’t forget the hats! I have an entire book just on those!