The idea of the beauty salon is not a new one. In fact, going back to ancient civilizations, we can see that hairstyles and the people who loved them have been setting fashion trends for thousands of years. Even though through the ages hairstyles, cuts, and trends have changed hundreds of times, there are some things that have remained constant through time, like women wearing long braids or wigs, men keeping hair clipped or shaved short, and even coloring hair is not a new, modern practice.
The ancient Egyptians would get their hair clipped very close to the head, especially in the upper classes, in order to don full, fancy wigs atop their heads for special occasions, public outings, and ceremonies. The womens wigs were adorned with gold and ivory trinkets, and were long and often braided. The beauty salons back then were where these wigs were ordered and made. Women in ancient Greece often had long hair, tightly pulled back. Even at this early time, women would dye their hair red and sprinkle gold powder on the hair, decorating their coiffures with tiaras and flowers. Men wore their hair short and often shaved, probably for comfort and convenience when putting on their gladiator helmets. Beauty salons during this time were inside palaces of the rich and noble, though there were also some on the streets for the commoners as well.
Ancient Rome for much of its time had been a society of copycats, where the norm was to follow the lead of the Greek fashions. Some Roman styles saw women dying their hair blond or wearing wigs made from the hair of slaves that had been captured. Beauty salons in Rome began to make hairstyles more ornate and elaborate, to the point that hair was often styled around wire frames that women wore on their heads. The upper classes were tended to by slave cosmetologists and there emerged many beauty salons and barber shops for different classes to frequent. In the Middle East, hair was traditionally hidden completely when out in public, although men would go to salon bathhouses and wash their long hair in a henna rinse, compliments of the local salon stylist.
Traditionally in China, young girls wore their hair in braids, which required the help of a friend or hair stylist, and womens hair was pulled back and wound around in a bun. Mens heads were traditionally shaved, except for part of the back of the head, which would grow long and stay braided. In Japan, the hairdresser of a Geisha certainly had her work cut out for her, styling the womens hair heavily with lacquer decorations in very large ornate styles.
During the 15th century, the time of the Renaissance saw one of the most painful hair trends ever to hit beauty salons. Women during this era would not only pluck their eyebrows, but would pluck the entire front hairline that ran across their head in order to make it look like they had higher foreheads! Obviously the old saying Beauty is Pain rang loud and clear to women back then, too. This crazy era was followed by women rushing to beauty salons for white face powder and red wigs, in order to keep up with the fashion trends that had been set by Queen Elizabeth with her super pale complexion and bright red hair.
Thus we have a very brief summary of some of the different hairstyles that beauty salons everywhere were called upon to create for customers. Whether it was a long braided wig in Ancient Egypt or a good old fashioned hairline plucking, hairstylists have always been sought after to give people what they want in hairstyles.