July 2009

History of Cosmetology

The internet is a wonderful research tool to help discover the history of cosmetology and hair history.

Everyone can use a hairdresser; men, women, girls and boys. And though spa treatments are popping up all over the world like never before - Spas are nothing new. Egyptians, Romans and Greeks are well known for their use of essential oils and bathing systems.

“The earliest use of cosmetics has been traced to the ancient Egyptian, who invented a number of cosmetic, herbal, and fragrance preparations for use in their personal grooming regimens as well as in religious ceremonies and burial rites.

“The Egyptians were the first to develop methods for extracting herbal and flower essences through distillation, which is still the preferred method of extracting essential oils today. The Egyptians believed in cleanliness and built elaborate systems for bathing that were later adopted by the Greeks and Romans.” taken from Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians ninth edition, page 5.

The information below was found on www.aldokkan.com/society/cloth.htm.

The Egyptians cared about their appearance a great deal. Women spent a lot of time bathing, rubbing oils and perfumes into their skin, and using their many cosmetic implements to apply make-up and style their wigs. Women would apply khol, a black dye kept in a jar or pot, to line her eyes and eyebrows, using a brush or pencil made of a reed.

Men wore this eye make-up as well, which was not only a fashion but also protected against the eye infections which were common in Egypt. They would use a dye called henna to redden their nails and lips.

Egyptian hairstyles varied with age, gender and social status. Children’s heads were shaved off or cut short except for a long lock of hair left on the side of the head, this s-shaped lock was depicted by the hieroglyphic symbol of a child or youth.

Both girls and boys wore this style until the onset of puberty. Older boys often shaved their heads, while girls had ponytails hanging down the center of the back. Egyptian men had short hair, leaving their ears visible. Another hairstyle for men was distinctive short curls covering the ears shaping a bend from temple to nape. Women’s hairstyles were more unique than those of men. Women generally preferred a smooth, close coiffure, a natural wave and long curl. Women in the Old Kingdom preferred to have short cuts or chin length bobs. However in the New Kingdom they had long hair or touted a wig.

Women tied and decorated their head with flowers and linen ribbons. A stylized golden lotus blossom was the preferred adornment. Poor people used more simple and inexpensive ornaments of petals and berries. Children decorated their heads with amulets of small fish to protect from the dangers of the Nile. Children sometimes used rings or clasps, ancient Egyptians wore headbands around their heads or held their hair in place with ivory and metal hairpins.

Wigs were very popular and worn by men, women and children. They were adorned both inside and outside of the house. Egyptians put on a new wig each day and wigs were greatly varied in styles. The primary function of the wig was as a headdress for special occasions, such as ceremonies and banquets. Wigs were curled or sometimes made with a succession of plaits. Only queens or noble ladies could wear wigs of long hair separated into three parts, the so-called goddress.

During the Great Depression in the U.S. there were no job shortages for anyone who could provide hair services. There appears to always be a demand for cosmetology services around the world. It seems that when times are rough, even destitute, that is when people have the strongest desire to feel good about themselves. It is up to the professional cosmetologist to provide them with that look and that feeling of well being. If you have, or will develop the people skills to build a clientele, then you should be a success!

Believe it or not HAIR EXTENSIONS are nothing new. Many colonial women in America would save the hair that came out of their own head every day in a little jar known as a hair tidy. Hair pieces were made from the lost hair - which of course perfectly matched. They would form large balls of hair called rats from the fallen hair which they could then place strategically within their hairstyle to create that big hair look you could see on Miss Kitty of Gun Smoke, or Miss Scarlett in Gone With The Wind. You probably never thought of those as hair extensions, but that is exactly what they were.

When describing cosmetology practices in the Dark Ages of Britain it is an act of educated speculation. They, the Brits, probably used chalk to whiten neck and forehead, red ochre for lips and cheeks, ashes to darken eyebrows. Hot tongs to curl hair. Hair was always long and parted in the middle. Just look at any of the aged works of art during that time, and it would be a matter of deduction.

In ancient China beautiful nails were a prominent part of a person’s image. In Japan the art of the Geisha and her makeup is centuries old, probably originating after 1600 A.D. The classic vision of the Geisha is her white face, red lips, dark eyes and ornate hair.

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