The fifteenth century is seen as the bridge between the Late Middle Ages, the Early Renaissance, and the Early modern period. One of the most prominent people of this time would be Leonardo Da Vinci, we owe a great deal of gratitude to Da Vinci because of his painting we are able to gain a lot of information about hairstyles. This is also the century of Gutenberg, who is credited for being the first European to introduce Europe with the printing press, now just because the century had a way of printing text, it did not mean a great deal of people were writing about hair, however it was a step that later provided historians with a great deal of knowledge about hair as we move forward in history.
As we have come out of the middle ages the fashions in hair began to change. The first notable change was the lack of facial hair. Most people have shaved their faces creating nice, smooth clean skin, the only people to still have worn beards are older men and important officials. Wearing a beard was a sign of age, dignity, or importance.
An act was passed in England in 1447, during the reign of Henry VI, “no manner of man that will be taken for an Englishman shall have no beard above his mouth; that is to say, that he have no hairs on his upper lip so that the said lip be once at least shaven every fortnight or of equal growth with the nether lip; and if any man be found amongst the English contrary hereunto, that then it shall be unlawful to every man to take them and their goods as Irish enemies.”
As far as the men’s haircuts there was no such acts passed, men had bowl haircuts at the beginning of the century, but as the century moved forward the hair began to become longer, still in a bowel cut, but grown out to their shoulders. The texture would vary from straight, curly, and sometimes frizzed out. Wigs were still worn, in colors like brown, blonde, or black, but red was no longer a popular color.
Women’s hair was a sign of their marital status, normally women covered their hair after marriage and wore it long and flowing before. There were some very beautiful and highly decorated styles form this period that were carried forward from the fourteenth century. Braids and twists were popular to hold the hair up; however, they would have thick strands of hair pulled out to frame their face.
The use of decorations, head dresses, and false hair would be used in the more elegant and extravagant styles, a pile of twists in braids stacked on the back of the head would create a work of art, or a mythological look. Women were also wearing wigs if needed, yet again in browns, blacks, and blondes but rarely red. These styles and wigs were typically worn by women of a high social status, common folk did not have such styles.
Women were also very aware of their own facial hair, it would be common for a woman to pluck her own facial hair in public. Women would pluck (or tweeze) their eyebrows until they were a very fine, thin line above the eyes. The plucking of the eyebrows became even more excessive as we move into the next century, you will see that Queen Elizabeth I became aggressive with her hair by completely removing the eyebrows and even taking her hair line further back than necessary, but we will save that until next week.
Corson, R. (2012). Fashions in hair: The first five thousand years. London: Peter Owen. (p 134-142)
 Corson, R. (2012). Fashions in hair: The first five thousand years. London: Peter Owen. (p 136-138)
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAIR
The Geography of Hair is devoted to share experiences and stories in cosmetology and how it has affected people, myself, or us as a society.