By on November 1, 2011 in Culture

Queen of the Nile

Personal appearance is a big deal for many of us – for some of us to a higher degree than others. Our appearance often indicates our social status, role in society, age and gender. One of the defining factors of our appearance is our hair. We spend countless dollars and hours and go to great lengths to make sure it is cut and coiffed exactly the way we want.

Having well-groomed hair is not a trend that is exclusive to modern civilization. For thousands of years, hair has played a highly important role in society. It has been used for seduction and to enhance power and fame. The ancient Egyptians knew how important hair was, especially Cleopatra. Depictions of her in artwork and coins clearly indicate that she wore many different hairstyles at different times during her reign as queen. One hairstyle she adopted was from a Macedonian queen who was partial to dramatic curls. Another was made to resemble the bobbing shape of cantaloupe. She was not only very innovative with her hairstyles, but also very calculating. She used the different styles to convey different messages. Sharper styles were meant to show that she was powerful woman not to be messed with. Softer looks were designed to display her femininity and please the opposite sex. She had numerous slaves who attended to her appearance at all times and made her look her best.

But even before the days of Cleopatra, hair care was an important consideration in most cultures. The history of people striving to achieve lovely locks is quite fascinating.

Curlers & Conditioning

As far back as 4000 B.C., ancient cultures were crafting ways to make their hair beautiful. It was around that time that Egyptians began using dried fish bones as combs. Soon after, they were developing ointments and conditioners made from things like fruit juices, plant oils and animal fats to keep their hair in top shape.

The Egyptians were not alone in pioneering hair treatments; around 1800 B.C. Ionians would decorate their hair in gold dust and Assyrian nobles curled their hair with heated iron bars. The styling of hair became popular in Africa around 500 B.C. when clays rich in minerals were used to treat hair. Africans also used sticks for curling and made styling gels from plants. In ancient Rome, women would dye their hair dark using concoctions made from boiled nuts and green vegetables. Warriors would create an imposing look by coloring their hair in blues and oranges. Elaborate headdresses were also popular among the Romans and Egyptians. Often they were studded in jewels and displayed ornamental sculptures of snakes and other designs. In later history, European women of the 1200’s and 1300’s went to extreme lengths to make their hair beautiful. It was common to boil lizards and use the thickened water to give hair a certain sheen. It was also common to shave hairlines to make the forehead appear bigger and apparently more beautiful.

Like today, graying and hair loss throughout history was always a big concern. The Egyptians and other cultures, to conceal the salty-looking strands, commonly used henna. Numerous remedies, primarily for men, targeted the unwanted effects of hair loss. In Egypt, fats from lions, crocodiles, geese and serpents were smeared onto scalps in order to induce hair growth. Perhaps if Egyptians knew what doctors know today, they would have just had more sex in order to keep their locks intact.

Blood Flow

Modern science has come a long way in regards to its research and knowledge of hair. Similarly, scientists have gone to great lengths to understand the powerful effects of sex on the human body. Sex is known to not only relieve stress and build a stronger immune system, but it is also directly related improving the health of skin and hair.

Essentially, arousal and sexual release send powerful impulses throughout the body that reach every hair follicle on the head. Sex results in stronger, faster growing and more luscious hair. If you find this hard to believe, consider that a study of fishermen showed that those who were about to return for a break on shore displayed increase hair growth that radically slowed down right after they returned to sea. It goes without saying that there are other factors that control both healthy sexual activity as well as healthy hair. A healthy diet that includes the full range of vitamins and minerals has a huge impact on the ability to have a healthy sex life and lush hair. Minerals such as selenium, calcium and zinc are particularly important to sexual health and hair, as are amino acids.

Certainly, there could be no greater motivation to take care of one’s hair than to know that a healthy sex life will pretty much do the trick.

Modern Throwback

With a healthy head of hair, you can pretty much go for any look you want. It seems today that we have come full circle in Western society and hairstyle that are a throwback to ancient times are very much in. Runway models and soccer moms alike can be seen wearing the striking and angular style that helped make Cleopatra famous. On the flipside, men can be seen wearing the closely cropped and forward-combed “do” that was Julius Caesar’s signature look. It’s actually a cool cut that compliments almost any face shape or hair type.

Hair has the power to evoke a wide range of feelings and it also possesses powerful symbolic properties. It allows us to say to the world who we are and where we fit within it. Whether it is short or long, lush or thin, dark or graying, hair will always have an impact on how we perceive others, and ourselves. It will also allow us to control how we are perceived by the world.


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