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England- 1550-1650, reined by Queen Elizabeth the first. Imagine you were living during this time. Most likely, you would be labeled an Elizabethan. Elizabethan women and men were very strict about how they appeared in public and how they appeared to their own families. Women and men both used cosmetics, which is very set apart from where we stand now, and womens and mens hairstyles were both very far from eachother, being very speculated and chaning from the fifteenth to the sixteenth centuries.

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Just her luck, Queen Elizabeth the first was born with the ideal colour of hair, golden blonde ( Burton, 235). In the Elizabethan time period women would go to high lengths just to have curly, golden blonde, and perfect hair just like hers (235). If a women's hair was tolerable , they would go on a rooftop or in a secluded garden and spread out their hair to bleach it (236). Women who did not have as tolerable hair would use wigs or periwigs made of horse-hair or hair purchased from peasants (Andrews, 333). Queen Elizabeth was not the only reason that women dyed their hair. If one had red hair, they would be considered dishonest or unsavory (334). This made red heads immediatly want to dye and keep their hair blonde, or any other colour than red (334). Women's hair was usually decorated with jewels called Bodkins and was always gathered into a bun (333). In our time period, the current women's hair craze is having bangs. This style would be unacceptable from 1550-1650 (Dodd,105) . Women were even said to pluck their own hairline, which, in my opinion, would be very unbearable (105). The objective for Elizabethan women was always to look fair and fragile when it came time to dress up for an event or family gathering (Burton, 235).

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Elizabethan Hairstyle

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Elizabethan Hairstyle





















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Common Elizabethan Hairstyle



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Men during the Elizabethan Era had very different ways of styling and caring for their hair. The most common style of men from 1550-1580 was short curly hair (Severn, 38). The men who were not born with curly hair would heat tongs to curl their hair (Andrews 333). By the 1590's men started to like a style known as " lovelocks" (333). "Lovelocks" are locks of curly hair which were usually gathered wtih a cord or a ribbon (333). Servants or peasants couldn't afford to have these so they would just comb their hair sometimes rarely (333). Elizabethan men though having nice hair, depending on your social rank, would generally have their heads covered (Singman, 105). The most popular head covering for an Elizabethan man was a brimless knitted cap (105). These caps were meant to show masculinity (105). They were usually made of wool, felt, leather or linen (105). After 1590 men began to develop a liking of longer hair (Severn, 38). A popular "longer" hairstyle that broke out in fashion for the men after 1590 was the cadenette (39). A cadenette was basically shorter hair on one side of your hair with the other side having a " hanging lock" (39). Men who did not have pleasant hair or no hair at all donned extravagent wigs (39). In this time period, men would actually be voted into higher positions if they had prettier hair than another that was trying to get the same position (39). Obviously, this was unfair to some that were smarter than others. As time went on in the Elizabethan Era, a longer hairstyle stuck and really didn't change much after that.
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An Elizabethan woman always attempted to look fair and fragile (Burton 235). Some also said that women used cosmetics becuase they wanted to aloter their natural appearance in accordance with the rules of fashion(235). When preparing or getting ready for a family gathering or a public event women made their faces look " round and ruddy"(236). A women's forehead was to be smooth, high, and white(236). In pictures, this is why women seem to have "high" or big foreheads. Eyebrows were to be small, delicate, and marked with dark pencil(236). Women used a dark pencil to show their eyebrows, because most women had light, and bleached hair. Lips were to look as if they were cherries, so they were usually a bright red color, and cheeks were to " show the combat between roses and lilies"(237). Women preffered their nails to be red to match their lips, and men loved women with long fingers (237). One feature that Elizabethan women loved to show was their eyes (237). Women who wanted to, in a sense, make their eyes bigger would drop serum from a plant known as Belladonna in their eyes (237). The most common way that they did this is by taking a feather, dipping it in the serum, and dropping it gently into each eye (237). Just like in our generation, Elizabethan women looked for and purchased freckle removers, spot removers, lotions, and beautifiers to make themselves look more pale(237). Looking pale was serious in this time period, so when outside it was common to see women with masks on to keep their face from browning(238). A common beautifier was ceruse which was made of a mixture of borax- a mineral, and sulphur(238). Rouge and lip creams were usually made of cochineal- a red dye, white of hard boiled eggs, milk of green figs, alum, and gum arabic- a gum obtained from the Acacia tree (240). One other way women would " whiten" or make their skin a pale look was by mixing urine, boiled lemon rind, the water left after boiling beans, rose water, wine, burnt alum, powdered "white candy", borax, and white poppy seeds(241). Elizabethan peasants could not afford to make this because most of the items listed were either expensive or hard to find/get. Most peasants would just use their urine to make their face whiter, urine made the face whiter due to the amount of acid that is in it. Many Elizabethan cosmetics took alot of items to make. It's easy math, the more items you have the longer it will take to make the cosmetic. The most common ceruse took over thirteen hours of beating by hand(241). In our time, this would take alot less time because of modern technology. Some of the more simple Elizabethan cosmetics would take way less time, but still would take up more time than today. Effects of some cosmetics were serious. Ingriedients like borax and sulphur damaged the skin and sometimes left scars (241). You'd think that people would learn their lesson if the ingriedients were harming them but instead when it did, they just used another cosmetic to cover it up, at times making it worse (241). Many women suffered a disfiguring pitting of skin from using the common ceruse, which was very, very painful. From 1550-1650 disease was more likely to happen. For women, when they got smallpox it created very noticeable scars on their face (241). Ofcourse, they could not go out in public looking like they did, so they would try to disguise it with very heavy makeup (241). This in turn would sometimes make women look worse than what they did with just the scars on their face (241).
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The way that women and men took care of and managed their hair, and how they made, and used cosmetics from 1550-1650 is the same and different from what we know and have today. Both were highly regarded and speculated, and impacted England during the Elizabethan era. In my opinion, if England did not have cosmetics and didn't care about how their hair or how they looked during this time period, things would have been drastically different. If women were born with red, or brown hair cosmetics and different ways of hair care could make up for being that way. Different techniques of hair care, and many cosmetics, in a way, saved many Elizabethan's from being outcasted in the social world.