Medieval hairstyles didn’t have much variety, as religion and social class controlled every aspect of people’s lives, from what they ate to how they dressed.
For example, women could wear their hair long and loose before marriage. Once they said, “I do,” social norms required them to cover their hair in public, exposing it only in the presence of their husbands.
But this does not mean that all medieval haircuts were obscure, as many of them were beautiful and elaborate. Come take a look at this fascinating part of history and explore the hairstyles, accessories and hygiene of the era.
What is the medieval era?
God Medieval eraalso known asThe Middle Ages‘, spanning the 5th to the 15th century. This period marks European history between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance.
Historians often divide this era into three parts. They are the Early Middle Ages, the High Middle Ages, and the Late Middle Ages.
During this period, Christianity spread throughout Europe. Strong kingdoms and empires were created. Feudalism developed as a social structure. The Crusades happened. The Black Death struck Europe. Art and literature saw great progress.
This period conjures up images of knights and castles. Gothic architecture also appeared in the Middle Ages.
A timeline of medieval haircuts and hairstyles
When it came to medieval hairstyles, the focus was less on the actual coats and more on the accessories used to dress them up. Throughout the nearly 1000 year era of the Middle Ages, some common hair styling themes spanned the ages.
Early Middle Ages
During the early Middle Ages, before the Catholic Church rose to prominence around 400 AD, women often wore their hair long and loose but covered it with a mantle except for a few curls on the forehead.
Men had more freedom, often wearing long hair curled over their shoulders or cropped cut a bowl. Most art at this time also shows them with mustaches but no beard.
By the 12th century, women began to reveal more of their hair, with the nobility adorning it with luxurious gold ribbons, dried flowers and elaborate knots. They would also wear wreaths or circles on their foreheads.
However, by the end of the century, they began to wear large cloth hair coverings called wimples. They hid the hair and the entire neck up to the chin. These humble barbershops have remained in fashion for almost 200 years.
Between the 13th and 15th centuries, snoods or crespins became popular. Ladies would braid and twist their hair Two buns on the sides of their heads, then use the net to hold it in place. They would wear a circlet to keep their hairline hidden.
During this period, the aristocracy wore large and elaborate headdresses made of a metal structure covered with cloth covered in jewels. They were designed into dramatic silhouettes like hearts, horns and even butterflies. The women would braid their hair tightly underneath to hide it.
What haircut was considered attractive in the Middle Ages?
Attractive medieval haircuts usually came from the aristocracy.
It was common practice for male subjects of long-haired kings to grow their locks, then cut them off again when a short-haired king ascended the throne.
Medieval people believed that high foreheads and baldness were more attractive to women, as it was a sign of youth, good breeding and intelligence. Women would pluck their hairlines and shave their eyebrows to achieve this look.
Types of medieval hairstyles
Medieval hairstyles ranged from simple to very elaborate, depending on the current position of the church.
In some cases, using overly fancy decorations was “sinful” and seen as a sign of arrogance, but these rules were sometimes lax. It is possible to appear more fashionable haircuts from the Middle Ages.
For women of all social classes, braids were the most popular hairstyle.
Noble women would use gold ribbons to thread through the braids and add fake extensions to make their braids look thicker and longer.
Young peasant girls often tucked their braids under their ears or crossed them smoothly across their foreheads. middle part.
The top cut began as a medieval hairstyle, as it was popular for these young knights’ assistants to cut their hair into a shaggy bowl cut that passed over the ears. They often include thick, Heavy margins.
When the clergy committed themselves to a monastery or convent, they symbolically turned away from a life of frivolity and fashion by removing most of their hair, a process called tensor.
Monks would shave off all but one strip of hair to cover the entire width of their heads. God The crown of their heads was completely baldAnd the tonsure is usually cut above the ears.
in a similar way, Nuns would cut off all their hair Almost to the scalp and covering all the remaining shirts with a long scarf that hid her forehead.
The chivalrous knights preferred to wear their hair over their shoulders, but this served a more practical than fashionable purpose.
Their hair will provide an extra layer of padding between the heavy helmets at the back of their necks, making them more comfortable and less prone to pinching.
cut a bowl
The bowl cut was one of the most famous medieval haircuts for men. It consisted of a blunt, straight length around the head as if the barber had placed a bowl on their heads and clipped any hair that hung below its rim.
Men of all social classes and ages would train in this style, especially soldiers and knights, during times of war.
How did men and women cut and style their hair in the medieval era?
In the medieval era, they used early hair styling tools like spring scissors and bone combs to cut and style their hair.
As modern plumbing did not yet exist, hair washing occurred only occasionally, so combs were double-sided to ease the build-up of grease.
One side had wide teeth to loosen knots, while the other had much finer teeth to loosen Natural scalp oils Equally. When they did comb their hair, people used a poultice made of ash and herbs, then washed it with vinegar.
They also relied on many different herbs and homemade tonics, which they believed had unique properties that would enhance their treks and alleviate problems such as itching, lice, thinning hair.
Some examples include:
- Aloe vera for hair loss
- Willow leaves for dandruff
- Boiled pig fat and tree branches sweep for lice
- Dried rose petals, nutmeg, cloves, rose water and lilies for bad smells
- Egg whites to shine and hold the hair in place
- Alum, pomegranate peel and apples to soften
Why did medieval people have long hair?
Medieval people had long hair because it was considered a symbol of power, wealth and prestige.
Servants and peasants, who spent their days toiling in the fields or tending to craft equipment, needed shorter cuts, as they were more practical than struggling with longer spurs that interfered with their work.
As such, long hair was a sign that one did not have to worry about such things and could grow one’s locks long without worrying about keeping it clean and out of the way.
Were bangs popular in the Middle Ages?
Bangs were very unpopular with women, who would pluck or shave the hair along the edges of their foreheads.
However, many medieval men’s haircuts featured blunt, heavy fringes, such as the monk’s tonsure, page cuts, and bowl cuts.
Did people dye their hair in the Middle Ages?
People did use paint, although they didn’t have the luxury of stopping at a beauty supply store for everything they needed for some amazing medieval hairstyles.
According to a treatise called “De Ornatu Mulierum” written by Trotula de Ruggiero in the 11th century, there were recipes for concocting homemade hair dye mixtures from plants. They could get a blonde with boxwood extracts, saffron or myrtle berries for golden, and black hanbon for a dark brunette.
- In the early Middle Ages, women usually wore their hair long and loose, covered with a mantle except for a few curls on the forehead, while men wore long hair curled around the shoulders or in a cropped bowl.
- By the 12th century, women had begun to adorn their hair with luxurious gold ribbons, dried flowers and elaborate knots, although by the end of the century, large cloth hair coverings called wimples had come into fashion.
- Between the 13th and 15th centuries, snoods or crespins became popular. Women would also braid their hair tightly under elaborate headdresses.
- A high and bald forehead is considered attractive to women because it is a sign of youth, good breeding and intelligence.
- Medieval hairstyles ranged from simple to elaborate, depending on the church’s stance on vanity. Braids were popular for women of all social classes.
- The cut and tonsures were common hairstyles of the Middle Ages, with tonsures being a symbolic act of turning frivolity for members of the clergy.
- Knights wore their hair shoulder-length as extra padding for heavy helmets, while the bowl cut was common among men, especially soldiers and knights in times of war.
- People of the Middle Ages used spring scissors and bone combs to style their hair, and a washcloth made of ash and herbs was used to wash hair, which was washed with vinegar.
- Long hair was considered a symbol of power, wealth and prestige, while bangs were not popular among women.
- People did use plant-based dye for their hair in the Middle Ages according to the 11th century treatise De Ornatu Mulierum by Trotula de Ruggiero.
These herbal hair treatments were almost exclusive to medieval women’s haircuts. However, there are historical records of men adopting the practice to celebrate special occasions or to coordinate with their chosen outfits.