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Why Do We Care So Much About Our Hair? The Crazy Evolution of Men’s Hairstyles Men Hairstylist

barber doing a haircut to a teen boy

Regardless of how far again in human history you go, there are some issues that never change. A type of issues is our curiosity in our hair. Men’s hairstyles and ladies’s hairstyles have all the time been essential to us, and we still care deeply about our private coifs.

In fact, talking from an evolutionary perspective, the hair on our heads has a very particular function: to help us stay warm. No animals on the planet care about their hair (though Mrs. Morton’s poodle does typically seem a bit ashamed of his pink and purple haircut), yet people care deeply about theirs.

We care a lot about it that we’ve completed some fairly loopy and fascinating issues with our hairstyles throughout the centuries. And when you would assume that ladies are the ones most concerned about their hair, and there’s no denying they do care, it seems that the evolution of men’s hairstyles is just as bizarre.

Why We Care

Sociologists have contemplated the question of why we care about our hair a lot ever since sociology turned a scientific self-discipline. There are a pair theories, and listed here are a number of the almost definitely:

It’s About Breeding

The thicker and extra lush the hair, the more doubtless the individual is healthy. That is essential for child-bearing, in fact, so each men and women can’t help caring about their hair for the alerts it sends to the other sex.

It’s About Self-Willpower

You possibly can’t make yourself taller or shorter. You possibly can’t repair your humorous formed ears or (until very lately) get totally different coloured eyes or a greater nose. You possibly can’t change your skin colour, and it’s even troublesome to vary the blemishes on our pores and skin.

What you’ll be able to change is your garments and your hair. Continuously altering up your hairstyle is a approach of signaling self-determination.

It’s About Social Cues

We’re social animals, and we care what other individuals think about us. We care about what “club” we belong to. We have to signal the place we belong, and we do it partially with our hair. Males’s hairstyles are a approach for males to point out that they’re male (and the identical goes for ladies).

However there’s extra to it than that. The precise hairstyle any man or lady chooses additionally identifies their group inside the group. So while it’s about self, it’s also about belonging and conformity.

Historic Hair

We know lots concerning the common men’s hairstyles in the historic world, although within the absence of images and film it’s exhausting to get more particular. Most of our clues come from paintings, sculpture, and descriptions.

Historic Egyptians

Men in Egypt tended to either shaved their heads or wore their hair very brief. That’s as a result of the perfect was to put on an elaborate wig or hair extensions, and the wealthier you have been, the crazier your wig can be.

Solely a rustic bumpkin or a peasant can be caught operating round with one thing as uncouth as his personal hair, so men’s hairstyles stayed very brief to facilitate wigs and assist with the lice drawback. This behavior actually didn’t change in any respect via the whole three,000 years of Egypt’s ascendance as a kingdom.

Historic China

China, one other historic kingdom, valued hair extremely. Hair was seen as a natural part of the physique and subsequently something to be cherished, so each ladies’s and males’s hairstyles have been lengthy. Having your hair shaved off was a punishment, and this punishment was recurrently inflicted on “sinners” and criminals. The Han individuals groups of China tended to bind their lengthy hair up in order to differentiate themselves from the “barbarians” who let all of it hang around.

Chinese philosopher, had a typical Ancient Chinese male hairstyle

Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, had a typical Historic Chinese language male coiffure.

Historic Greece

Greek men also took their hair fairly significantly. In Greece, long hair and beards have been for men. Boys needed to reduce their hair brief till they reached a sure age, and as their hair and beard grew these have been seen as symbols of elevated distinction and social development.

All that modified with Alexander the Great. He observed that long hair and beards have been a battle disadvantage (giving the enemy something to grab), so he ordered his troopers to trim their locks.

There were four main males’s hairstyles in historic Greece. The kepos was a bowl-cut, and solely youngsters and slaves wore their hair this manner. The Krylon involved gathering all the hair up and pinning it to the brow. The hectorean was for men with curly hair (or who might repair it to twist), and this was combed again. The theseid was a sort of proto-mullet.

Historic Rome

Roman males’s hairstyles modified dramatically through the years. The earliest Romans wore it long, like Greeks, however round 300BC barbers came into trend. At that time, everybody needed their hair brief.

Romans despised balding males, and Julius Caesar is believed to have worn his laurel crown always so as to disguise his. Usually, whatever coiffure the Emperor of the moment adopted would shortly spread throughout the dominion. Julius Caesar stored his brief, however when Nero wore his lengthy and with face-framing curls, the Romans began using heated curling tongs so everyone might seem like Nero.

Later, Nero went for sideburns, so these turned the style. Constantine liked wigs of varied colors with the hair rigorously arranged and heavily perfumed. All the lads who might afford to comply with him in this copied the style.

Medieval Hair

We’re defining our timelines a bit loosely, but as soon as we move out of historic occasions, males’s hairstyles obtained probably even stranger. Basically, we get a variety of bouncing forwards and backwards between brief and long types, with occasional diversions into the world of wigs.


Once the Roman Empire fell, European males’s hairstyles have been based mostly on Germanic preferences. Usually, the higher courses and royalty stored their hair lengthy. Lower class men and slaves needed to put on their hair brief or shave their heads.


During this era, over in China, males started ordering their hairdressers to rearrange their coif into elaborate decorative shapes. The extra fascinating and elaborate the shape, the wealthier the wearer.


In the latter years of the Mayan civilization, males wore their hair long if they have been elite and brief in the event that they have been decrease class. Males’s hairstyles dictated burning off the hair of their fringe. They did this to drive a receding hairline, and the burning truly destroyed the hair follicles.

This gave them a better forehead and a more elongated profile: one thing the Mayans felt was extremely lovely. In case you have been a warrior, you wore your hair in a tuft to the left until you made your first kill, at which point you moved it to the suitable to have fun your triumph.


Africa is a continent, not one civilization, however we’ve got much less information about historic males’s hairstyles from right here than we do from different places. We do know that the majority African civilizations noticed hair as extraordinarily necessary. Being on the prime of the body, it was closest to the divine. For those who might get the hair of your enemy, you may use it to mix a potion to injure him.

Men’s hairstyles might range dramatically because they have been an essential means of sending messages. A man’s hair advised everybody his age, tribal id, marital standing, religion, rank locally, and success as a warrior. This was a part of what led to the development of elaborate shapes and stylings not seen in other cultures.

Iconic (and Unusual) Men’s hairstyles in History

There isn’t any end to the weird hairstyles sported by each men and women all through historical past, but some are extra readily identifiable than others. Listed here are a number of the weirdest hairstyles males have ever passionately followed:

The Powdered Wig, or Peruke

It was King Louis XIV, the Solar King, who set Europe on the fad of powdered wigs they wouldn’t be rescued from for almost 2 hundred years. Louis wore an extended, brown wig of unfastened waves, and, naturally, each man within the kingdom followed go well with as he might. In fact, the only purpose Louis did this was as a result of he didn’t want individuals to note he was prematurely bald.

What’s the Matter with Bald?

Right now we don’t mind balding quite as much as they did again then. Some males deliberately shave off all their hair, and it can be seen as an indication of maturity and distinction in older men. So what was the deal in 17th century Europe?

bald man giving thumbs up; mens hairstyles

So what was the large deal? Syphilis. Syphilis was the deal. This sexually transmitted illness, without antibiotic remedy, causes rashes, blindness, dementia, and hair loss. Until you have been King George (who used to go round whispering “peacock” to himself), your dementia wouldn’t all the time present itself til late, and rashes might be coated up. Baldness, though, was exhausting to cover.

In case you went bald back within the day, your popularity was tanked, so men tried to hide the issue with wigs. There wasn’t enough human hair to go around for all these wigs, so wigmakers began making them from horse and goat hair.

Why Powder?

Horse and goat hair don’t…odor so good. To cover this, individuals would throw powders scented with lavender and orange oil all over their wigs. Thus we get the powdered wig. Sporting a wig was a kind of blatant try and disguise your illness, so it didn’t REALLY catch on until King Louis.

Once Louis acquired himself a gorgeous, stylish wig, his cousin King Charles II of England adopted go well with. Once the royals have been wigged up, sporting a powdered wig went from questionable to trendy in very brief order. You didn’t even need to have syphilis to wear one anymore!

Within 50 years, a mean powdered wig value an entire week’s wages in London. The really nice ones value almost thirty occasions that worth. When you’ve ever heard the time period “bigwig,” you may now be capable of guess that the time period originated as a means of referring to the necessary males who wore them.

The Chonmage

That is the time period for the long-lasting “ponytail” you see on in the present day’s Japanese sumo wrestlers and which you may also acknowledge from paintings and pictures of historic Japanese men. The coiffure originates with the samurai.

The samurai are famend in the present day as warriors, however what isn’t as well known is that they have been also the upper-class nobility. Thus, what they did influenced everyone’s trend decisions. The samurai originally started sporting their hair in these bun-like ponytails specifically to keep their helmets on throughout battle. As soon as once more, the style of the upper class affected the remaining, and shortly it turned trendy for each Japanese boy to put on the topknot as soon as he came of age.

Not Just like the Films

When you’ve watched any samurai strikes recently, you’ll notice that they incessantly depict the baddest samurai in the extremity of battle, filled with willpower, sweaty, and allowing their hair to hold a bit unfastened in a really (trendy) manly trend.

In actuality, no samurai would ever do this. Having even one hair out of place was a shame to a Japanese warrior–a lot in order that poets would describe a man as having messy hair as a shorthand method of saying he was an utter disgrace.

Samurai oiled their hair and punctiliously tucked it up. Whereas it’d fall down in battle, it might instantly be restored when the battle was over. Solely defeated warriors left their hair messy or unfastened as a sign of their humiliation.

The Ginger Revolution

For centuries, “civilized individuals” from throughout the European and Roman world had seen purple hair as the mark of a barbarian. In Britain, wild Scots and loopy Irishmen had purple hair, and literature of the day factors to the prevalence of pink hair among these individuals as “proof” that they got here from the “barbarous Scythians” of previous. Staid and noble Englishmen rejoiced in their dark locks; until Queen Elizabeth I.

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth I of England had purple hair, and she or he needed individuals to note it. Her purple hair helped disprove the fees that she was an illegitimate daughter of the previous king. It also set her aside as devoted to St. George, the patron saint of England, and helped to determine her personal “brand,” if you’ll. She even went as far as to dye the tails of her horses pink.

What does this need to do with males’s hairstyles? Nicely, what the queen starts the nobles will finish, and shortly all the fawning courtiers of Elizabeth’s empire have been dying their hair and beards purple in mimicry of their queen. The fad turned so widespread than English males have been truly poisoning themselves within the course of. They used saltpeter, saffron powder, sulfur powder, and borax to get the coveted colour, they usually struggling nausea, nosebleeds, and complications for his or her dedication to trend.

The Queue

No speak of historic China is completely irrespective of the lengthy braided ponytail generally known as the queue. Beginning nicely earlier than the Qing Dynasty, Chinese men obtained in the behavior of combing their hair as far backward as it will go, shaving their foreheads, after which braiding the remaining into as lengthy a queue as they might handle.

That in itself isn’t all that unusual (it definitely seems to be better than the worst 1980s mullets), however the history behind it is extremely unusual. The type at first was a trend selection, and it was primarily males of the Han individuals group have been very pleased with the length of their queues.

Dynastic Modifications

The rulers at the time, beneath the Ming Dynasty, have been Manchu, not Han. The Manchu males didn’t notably favor the queue; however when the Qing Dynasty overthrew the Ming, and the Han have been installed as the upper class once extra, the Emperor passed a regulation requiring all men to put on a queue.

Because the regulation went, “maintain your hair and lose your head, or hold your head and reduce your hair.” (On this case, the chopping referred to the act of shaving the forehead all the best way until it was according to the ears.) The Emperor needed to drive males to publicly reveal their loyalty to him, and since barbers have been additionally executioners, it only made sense for them to display the heads of lawbreakers in front of their institutions.

Consequently, this hairstyle was the catalyst to a century or extra of wars and rebellions, and the whole population did their lifeless degree greatest to withstand the order. Things went forwards and backwards for a very long time until the fashion lastly started to die out within the time of the Republic.

Trendy Men’s Hairstyles

Once we hit the 1920s, and the widespread use of images and film, men’s hairstyles are lots simpler to comply with. But the types nonetheless continue to comply with cultural tendencies, the whims of celebrities, and political movements. Normally, men’s hairstyles are typically extra practical than trendy, however things have by no means been that method universally.

The ’20s & ’30s

The Roaring 20s and Nice Melancholy of the 30s saw males’s hairstyles go brief, greasy, and parted. Men principally went clean-shaved, they usually often wore their hair underneath hats. Beneath the top overlaying, although, most men’s hair was slicked back as tight as it will go and given a fierce middle or aspect part.

It was rare to see males with long hair, notably as the fashion icons of the day, like Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable, didn’t put on theirs long. All types of lotions and pomades have been invented to maintain the hair slicked again tight. Names for these hairstyles included “helmet head” and “patent leather.”

The ’40s

The 40s have been conflict years, and the army mandated very intently shaved buzz cuts, flat tops, and crews. These have been straightforward to scrub and keep on the battlefield, made it simpler to deal with head wounds, and resisted the infestation of lice.

world war 2 soldier

However, some males revolted towards this trend requirement and demanded longer and “wilder” hair. Thus the opposite style within the 40s was patterned after the brief however wavy, side-parted hairstyle sported by movie idols Errol Flynn and Frank Sinatra.

The ’50s

By the 50s, males’s hairstyles have been beginning to rebel towards the brief cuts of the 20s, 30s, and 40s. It wouldn’t be until the 60s that we might see critically long men’s hairstyles, but issues have been getting there.

elvis presley posing

Cultural icons like Elvis Presley and James Dean wore their hair excessive and quiffed, slightly mussed, wavy, and fewer severely sculpted. Some guys still wore crew cuts, however by the top of the last decade those have been dying out.

The ’60s

The 60s have been a time of earth-shattering cultural insurrection, and men’s hairstyles have been only one space the place this turned evident. The Beatles popularized the shaggy, long fringe once they rose to reputation. Men began to develop their sideburns out once more (a trend which had died out in the early 1900s).

By the top of the last decade, probably the most trendy men affected an androgynous look with lengthy hair held again by headbands as an alternative of coated with hats.

The ’70s

Long hair continued into the 70s, and now issues have been sharply divided into the “rebellious” and the “smart.” Rockers and other males who needed to “stick it to the man” wore their hair lengthy, shaggy, or in dreadlocks in emulation of reggae stars and other cultures.

Males who needed to go far in enterprise or rule the world wore their hair brief and sensibly. They began to eschew hairstyling agents like lotions and started sporting a extra pure look.

The ’80s

In the 80s, the long hairstyles of the 60s and 70s saw an unfortunate detour into what turned generally known as the mullet. This brief on the front lengthy on the back hairstyle was all the craze for a while, and lots of middle-aged men right now look again on their faculty photographs from the time with a slight cringe of embarrassment.

In his blockbuster film Wall Road, actor Michael Douglas almost single-handedly introduced back brief, slicked-back hair and rescued the world from the mullet. He has yet to receive an award for this achievement, but we will all hope that at some point the world will recognize his contribution to men’s hairstyles.

The ’90s

You possibly can only be “rebellious” should you’re reacting to one thing. Lengthy hair had been in vogue for a pair many years by now, so the rebellious might not wear their hair long, clearly. They wanted one thing else, and that something else turned the Mohawk.

Begun in the late 80s, this type endured into the 90s, especially amongst rockers. To realize it, a man would shave the edges of his head after which spike (and typically dye) the center. Luckily, this type died down by means of the decade until we received the far more wearable trendy faux-hawk.

To realize the right head of hair, you want the right set of tools. Right here is the historical past of a number of the most essential hair care products out there.


There has by no means been a time in human history where we didn’t use combs. Bone and ivory combs in China and Egypt, picket combs dug out of the muck beneath London, and historic picket combs utilized by Masaai warriors have all been placed on show in museums all over the world. The comb is the primary, commonest, and probably most helpful hair device humankind has ever invented.

Hair Gel

Males have tried to tame their locks with all types of products. They’ve used animal grease, honey, corn oil, and petroleum jelly in an effort to get their hair to do what they need. In 1929, a British company, who truly made pretty harsh kitchen cleaners usually, invented Brylcream. This set the standard for hair gel for years, and you must admire the center of the first males prepared to put cream from chemical manufacturer on their heads.

Curling Iron

In the event you thought curling irons have been for ladies, you’d be incorrect. The primary crimping tools of this type have been used by men in historic Babylon and Assyria. They heated them over a fireplace and used them to fashion both their hair and their beards. The fashionable plug-in curling iron was patented in 1866 by the identical man who invented the Maxim machine gun. Go determine.


As we speak, hair extensions are used primarily by ladies; but this wasn’t all the time the case. Egyptian men (and ladies) would sew in braids and pieces of hair made out of human hair and dyed wool, attaching them with resin. European men of the 1700s also wore horse hair extensions and large, beehive hairdos.

Men and Dyed Hair

Individuals have been dying their hair for so long as we’ve any history. Even the Neanderthals used issues to vary the colour of their hair. Gaul and Saxon warriors dyed their hair particular colors (typically pink and blue) in order to point out their rank and fill their enemies with worry.

Rise of Blonde

The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, all used numerous kinds of plant and animal byproducts to paint their hair, though most hair dye on the time was darkish. It was more durable to bleach hair, and only the wealthy might afford to lighten their hair by means of applying onion slices and sitting out within the sun for hours. The fact that only rich individuals might afford to lighten is part of the rationale some individuals nonetheless affiliate lighter hair with beauty.

Pink Barbarism

Purple hair, which is definitely a genetic code error, didn’t come up among human beings till the Center Ages; and as such, it was all the time related to witchcraft and barbarism until Queen Elizabeth I.

Pastel Wigs

Within the 1700s and 1800s, the popularity of wigs made it attainable for males to have hair in each colour they needed, so blue, pink, and yellow hair was well-liked via the higher courses of Europe. The first synthetic dyes came out within the 1800s, and although ladies used it more than men, there have all the time been men taken with dying their hair.

Men’s hairstyles and the Future

There’s no telling what the type might be for men sooner or later, but there’s a couple of issues we all know for positive. Individuals will nonetheless see their hair as an essential option to talk one thing about who they are. Individuals will still fashion their hair in imitation of their favourite superstar or style fad.

And the comb will never absolutely go out of style.

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