Hair History : Barber Surgeons

The Barber Surgeon was one of the most common medical practitioners of medieval Europe – generally charged with looking after soldiers during or after a battle. In this era, surgery was not generally conducted by physicians, but by barbers. In the Middle Ages in Europe barbers would be expected to do anything from cutting hair to amputating limbs and mortality of surgery at the time was quite high due to loss of blood and infection. Doctors of the Middle Ages thought that taking blood would help cure the patient of sickness so the barber would apply leeches to the patient. During this whole period, physicians tended to be academics, working in universities, and mostly dealt with patients as an observer or a consultant. They considered surgery to be beneath them.


Hair History : Quiff

The quiff is a hairstyle that combines the 1950s pompadour hairstyle, the 50s flattop, sometimes a mohawk and  often with a lock of hair falling over the forehead. The origin of the word is said to derive from the French word "coiffe" which can mean either a hairstyle or, going further back, the mail knights wore over their heads and under their helmets. Another origin is the Dutch word "kuif," meaning "crest," and the Dutch name for Tintin, who sports a quiff, is "Kuifje," which is of the same word. The hairstyle was popular in the 1950s among movie stars and musicians like Rock Hudson and Elvis. It was a staple in the British 'Teddy Boy' movement, but became popular again in Europe in the early 1980s with musicians like Morrissey and then faced a resurgence in popularity again during the early-mid 2000s.


Hair History: Ramshorns

Around the end of the 13th century, a very popular form of hairstyle was the Ramshorn, which was created by parting the hair down the centre and coiling the hair over the ears around into a scroll like that of a ram's horn. All noblewomen of the time had long hair and great care was given to this style, sometimes even fashioning the ends into pointed horns to mimic the rams head as closely as possible. In the bible, horns were often used for symbols of strength and power, so we can deduce that noblewomen of the time wore their hair to symbolize this as well. It was a more common, conservative style for married noble women with the addition of a circlet hood or hat fastened to the top. Single women tended to favor the more flowy and bejeweled hairstyles. This style became popular again in Europe in the later 15th century with the addition of silks, ribbons and veils interwoven into the side horns. Jewelled brooches were often included as part of the dressing at the top of the head to show wealth and status. This style of hairstyle was not suited for the working classes, who would have found it most impractical. A lot of late 20th century sci fi movies and TV used medieval hairstyles and their base for women character hair styles. We can see the Ramshorn style mimicked in 20th century pop culture in the infamous Princess Leia cinnamon bun hairstyle in the Star Wars movie series. 


Hair History : Powdered Wigs

Blame King Louis XIII of France. The French monarchy had long suffered from a hereditary condition of embarrassing male pattern baldness, and so, tired of being mocked by the King of England, Louis wore a wig to show that he was the most virile king around. Before long, his unconventional style became a fashion statement in the royal court, with most of the king's men adopting the elaborate hairpieces, whether they were bald or not. With France being the center of European culture in the 17th century, anything that was sexy in France quickly spread to the rest of Europe. As aristocrats tried to outdo one another, the wigs, called perukes or periwigs, became more and more fabulous. This led to the creation of a whole industry of wig-makers, who established their own guild in 1665. The wigs became such a part of the culture that you had to wear a wig to move upward in society. By the late 1700s, men were pouring a starch-based powder over their wigs to make them as white as possible. The wig craze died in England when the government sensed a money-making opportunity and imposed a hefty tax on hair powder. At the same time, the French Revolution made it uncool to be seen in public wearing a symbol of the aristocracy. But until then, the peruke phenomenon had been one of the most long-standing and weirdest fashion crazes in European history.


Hair History: Finger Wave

Finger waves were developed in the 1920s to add style to, and soften the hard appearance of, the bobbed hairstyles that became very popular during the flapper period. It is the shaping or moulding of the hair while wet into "s"-shaped curved undulations with the fingers and comb. These waves when dried without being disturbed will fall into beautiful deep waves. Finger waving differs from other types of waving in that there are no heated irons used on the hair. A famous hairstylist from Paris named Antoine, was very influential during this time and designed many hairstyles and wigs for the famous Parisian singer, Josephine Baker. It is said he created the original recipe for finger wave gel: 1/4 cup of flax seed to 1 cup of water -- Boil on the stove until thickened, and strain the liquid into a jar; add 3 drops of rosemary oil, and refrigerate. Of course, now we have better hair potions for this style.