The hairstyles of the Tudors generally altered with the changing fashions in regards to headwear. For example, with some headdresses the hair could only be worn in a certain style. There were also a number of social codes of etiquette regarding hair that needed to be observed. At the start of the Tudor period, many of the headdresses were highly elaborate and ostentatious, often leaving little natural hair to be seen.
Things changed in the Elizabethan period with the introduction of the ruff, with the use of the ruff to draw attention there was no need for the elaborate head wear of the past. The hair could now be used to complete the look, rather than remaining hidden.
Despite long hair (for women) being the fashion of the time, it was very rare that a lady got to keep her head uncovered. Anne Boleyn, for example, is known to have had hair so long that she could sit on it, even though it was always neatly contained within an appropriate headdress.
The wearing of long and flowing hair was something that maidens were allowed to, wearing the hair in this way was a symbol of virginity and purity, and as such was the way that many women wore their hair on their wedding day. There were some exceptions to the rule though, as on some of the more grand state occasions women were allowed to wear their hair long. When Anne Boleyn was crowned queen she wore her hair long to facilitate the wearing of a crown. The same is true for the coronation of Elizabeth.
Elizabethan Era Hair Styles
While long straight hair had been the preference during the reign on Henry VIII, during the reign of Elizabeth fashions changed and curls became popular. Of course, during this time the fashions were directly linked to the queen, what she wore and how she dressed her hair were copied by the nobility. Curled hair was very popular with Elizabeth, she would have her hair curled with hot tongs. Hairstyles were another way that the nobility could make themselves stand out at court, the more elaborate the style, the more likely they were to gain the attention of the queen.
Elizabethan Hair Colour
The perfect Elizabethan beauty would have pale skin and fair hair, and her cheeks and lips would be tinted red. This was very much the look that Elizabeth had when she was younger, her naturally strawberry blond hair and pale skin were in every way the ideal look of the day. She tried to maintain this look as she grew older through the use of heavily applied cosmetics.
Women at court were known to colour their hair in order to make it lighter using a mixture of yellow herbs and spices such as cumin and saffron. Wigs were also popular during this period. The queen herself is known to have owned a large selection of wigs and hair pieces, her collection was said to contain more than eighty pieces.