Curling, waving, and braiding the hair have been methods adopted for its ornamentation from the earliest times. The most primitive fashion of curling the hair was probably the "papillote," and until recently one had only to travel to various East End districts of London to see the "papillote" in the form of bristling paper "corkscrews" adorning the foreheads of five out of ten of the women and girls of these neighbourhoods. In some cases these curl-paper adornments remained undisturbed all the week, and were only unrolled on Sundays, when 'arriet emerged from obscurity, and, bedecked with a plush hat, the inevitable feathers, and an elaborately curled fringe to her coiffure, accompanied' Arry to Hampstead Heath.
The paper "corkscrew" has, however, largely given place to curling-pins and lead curlers in the East End, as in polite society. The hair is twisted over these at night and combed out in the morning. Kid rollers are also widely used, and these are not liable to break the hair or cause a strain upon the roots.
Another method of curling or waving the hair is by means of the ribbon hair "ondu-lateur." Although a pin is used for the process of curling and waving, it is not left in the hair, the ribbon only remaining.
The pin employed has something of the appearance of a tuning-fork. Both ends of the ribbon (which is tubular) are placed on the points of the pin. The hair is divided all round the head, about three inches from the outside hair-line, as if to put over a hair-frame. The inside portion of the hair is then fastened into a knob at the top of the head, and the outer hair, which has been parted off, divided into as many equal divisions as there are ribbons. The hair is then dampened and a portion of it held in the right hand, straight out from the head, the waving-pin being held in the left hand quite close to the roots of the hair.
The hair is now twisted in and out of the pin, so that it goes equally well and rather tightly round each prong. Afterwards, the tubular ribbon is detached from the points of the pin, and tied in a smart bow. The pin is withdrawn by the bottom or curved end, and the ribbon is left on all night. This process is repeated until all the outside hair has been put into ribbons. Next morning the bow is undone and the ribbons pulled out.
Hot Irons Effective but-heated irons are frequently used for curling the hair. If you hold a piece of paper to the fire, you will see it bend and curl up as soon as it is brought under the influence of the heat. Why, it may be asked, does this happen? Because the moisture contained on the side nearest the fire is evaporated and passes off, leaving the parts destitute of support, and they will, therefore, naturally approach nearer to each other than when they were previously separated by the presence of moisture. You may satisfy yourself that this is the true explanation by feeling the paper which has been heated, and you will always find it more compact, hard, and dry than before it was exposed to the heat. In a word, it has lost moisture, although no moisture may have been previously perceptible in it.
In the same way do the curling irons act on the hair, abstracting more moisture from one side of it than from the other, and, consequently, causing it to bend, as we have seen in the instance of the paper. Or, independent of moisture, if the hair be weakened on one side and strengthened on the other, it will certainly bend and curl, and this inequality of strength is the usual cause of the natural curling of the hair.
The stronger the hair is, the more easy it is to bring into curl, and the longer also it will remain curled. Hair which is both weak and dry, which is frequently the case, as well as hair which has a tendency to be greasy, does not easily curl, and will not keep in curl very long. Hair of this kind is very sensitive to changes in the weather, a warm, moist, or foggy atmosphere soon taking out its curl.
Hot curling irons are not advisable, as, besides the danger of their scorching or singeing the hair, the constant application of intense heat renders it dry and brittle. Hair which is regularly curled by means of hot irons usually becomes very thin, and falls off. Whether it is that the process hinders the young hairs from growing, or dwarfs the roots of the larger hairs, it is certain that nothing has a more speedy effect in thinning them.
Curling fluids are sometimes used for keeping the hair in curl. Their effect is to saponify the natural oil of the hair, and when the latter becomes dry, it is, in consequence, not so flexible, and therefore keeps longer in curl. Borax and carbonate of soda are both employed in the preparation of curling fluids.
A weak solution of gum-arabic will have the effect of stiffening the hair, and thus causing it to remain in curl for some time, but has the disadvantage of causing the hair to become extremely brittle and break off at the roots. If, however, gum-arabic is used only in small proportion with other ingredients, this dis-ad vantage is not so marked.
The following is a popular recipe for curling fluid.
Powdered gum-arabic .. 10 gr.
Borax.......... 1 dr.
Hot water........ 3 oz.
Spirit of camphor . . 1 dr.
Cold water........ 5 oz.
Dissolve the gum and borax first in the hot water, and finally add the camphor and cold water.
An alkaline curling fluid may be made up from this formula:
Carbonate of potash .. . . 1 dr. Liquid ammonia .. .. 1/2 dr.
Glycerine ........ 2 dr.
Rect. spirit of wine . . . . 6 dr. Rose-water (made from otto) to 8 oz.
Here is a recipe for a curling powder: Dried carbonate of soda .. 10 oz. Powdered acacia .. . . 4 oz.
Mix intimately, and divide each ounce into three packets. Dissolve the contents of one packet in a teacupful of hot water, and this is used to dampen the hair before putting up into curlers.
Braiding or plaiting the hair is a fashion which has been in existence from the earliest ages. The simplest plait, and the one most generally used, is the "three-plait." This is so simple that it does not need description.
The Grecian plait and the "basket plait" are also used. To make the Grecian plait, take a fairly thick lock of hair and divide it into two equal parts. Take from the outside of the left-hand portion a very small piece of hair - about a sixth part - pass it over from the centre, and unite it with the right-hand portion; do the same from the right-hand portion, pass it over into the centre, and unite it with the left-hand portion; proceed thus, taking the small and even-sized lock alternately from the right and left hand portions until all is plaited. Be careful to keep this plait very smooth. It can be widened out to a very great extent.
The "Basket Plait"
To make the " basket plait," take four rather small strands of hair, plait with only three of these, weaving them over and under the fourth, which serves to draw the chain up, as in the way in which the plait of three is usually worked, taking first the left-hand outside strand, and working it under one and over the next, until it takes the place of the right outside strand, which, in its turn, is then worked to the left side, and so on, alternately, always retaining one, unmoved, in the middle.