Egyptian Hairstyles

When you think of ancient Egyptian hairstyles, do you picture Cleopatra's jeweled wig with intricate beading and the thick black hair straight with bangs (fringe)? I have to admit, that is definitely the most popular style used to portray the royal ladies!

It's how I wear my hair when doing the whole ancient Egyptian queen for Halloween... In fact, the entire costume is so much fun to recreate – try it!

Not everyone in ancient Egypt could afford jeweled wigs of course. But here is how most ancient Egyptians wore their hair...

Egyptian Hairstyles - Cleopatra

For the ladies, you'll find that up to the Middle Kingdom, most of them kept their hair short. After that they wore their hair long and pleated or braided. Sometimes they would also cut the front to make bangs.

The hair type itself was curly and they would sometimes put weights at the end to keep it weighed down.

The ladies of high status would adorn beautiful wigs and jewels – and that is usually what you see on their tomb wall paintings.

For special occasions and banquets, the dancers as well as the guests would sometimes wear perfumed cones of fat on top of their heads that give off a sweet scent as they're melting. See the picture below.

The men of high status wore wigs as well. Most ancient Egyptian men kept their hair short or shaved off. Up to the Middle Kingdom, they would also have beards and mustaches. After that, the clean-shaved look became more popular. But, the Pharaohs would wear fake braided beards (like Kind Tut's famous mask shows) that are considered a divine symbol of the Gods – to perform important religious rituals.

Egyptian Hairstyles

All priests had to shave off their hair... I mean all of their hair –including eyebrows and body hair!

Children usually had shaved heads except for a locket of hair on the right side that was braided and curled. Older Egyptiansdyed their hair with Henna, although some paintings show them with salt & pepper hair.

The ancient Egyptians portrayed the different ethnicities and statuses of people by how they looked – including their hairstyles.

  • Nubians were portrayed with curly black hair
  • Asiatics, or people from the Near East (which is now Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Palestine), are shown with this funny looking mushroom-shaped hairstyle. The hair is dark, shoulder length and straight. They would wear headbands around the forehead, and the men would usually have beards.
  • Libyans and other nomadic tribes from the west were shown to have red hair, usually shoulder-length and had plaited locks on the side.

Egyptian hairstyles today are nothing like back then, except you can sometimes catch a glimpse of the feel on some people – especially Copts. Some ladies dye their hair jet black and cut it in that Egyptian shoulder-length hairstyle, and sometimes even with the fringe!

As we have mixed with so many cultures, there are all kinds of hair types and colors. My mother's hair was dark blond because of her Turkish ancestry. My own hair is dark and wavy, showing off my North African genes!

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