Naturally soft, full hair, and, still better, wavy hair, hardly needs any "doing." All that is required is a knot of ribbon or two to tie it back from the face, and only experiment can show just which is the most becoming place for this knot, just how the hair should be puffed or pulled in front to make it lie softly on the forehead.
Most mothers prefer white, pink, or blue ribbons in their girls' hair for party occasions; but, as a matter of fact, these colours are extremely trying to all but the loveliest children's hair. If they would try the effect of black velvet ribbon on black hair, russet on red, yellow on golden - brown and black are likewise good with golden hair, all depends upon the shade of it - they would be surprised.
White ribbons are only really becoming to the fairest, most lily-like girls, and pale blue to girls with blue eyes. If they have the much more common grey-green English eye, it should have a greenish tinge if it is to suit them. Brunettes can wear cherry and pink - there is a type with very white skin and dark brown hair to which pink is peculiarly suited. And now and then one meets a child with the salmon-pink colour in her cheeks that goes with vivid red hair, who can wear salmon-pink bows in it with artistic effect; but it must be the best French ribbon, or it will not have the requisite delicacy of dye.
For all fluffy or wavy-haired girls, ribbon is a great stand-by. It is charming threaded through the hair, but it seldom sits well on lank, straight hair; and if it is used at all with it - except as a bow, of course - it should be the softest variety, or else velvet. A straight, stiff silk ribbon threaded through stiff, straight hair gives a Dutch-doll hardness to the youngest face.
The length of a schoolgirl's hair is not a point which should be left to Nature to decide nowadays, when short, thick hair "does up " so much more successfully than long and thin, or even long and thick. As a rule, the hair should be cropped midway between the shoulders and the waist; if very luxuriant it may be allowed to grow to the waist, but as a rule not longer.
Long versus Thick Hair
In the days of our grandmothers long hair used to be the thing admired. If Miss Jones-brown could "sit on her hair" the news was told to her glory and it was not. considered to matter that the final foot or so of plait was a miserable wisp. When the hair was brushed smoothly back, and coiled round and round, long hair was some use; but nowadays, when it has to be manipulated into sausage curls, it is merely a trial, and the girl with really bushy hair some ten or twelve inches in length will appear to have twice as much, once it is "up," as her sister with hair below the waist, out of which sausage curls cannot be manufactured without the aid of glycerine or French-combing.
Few women have the magnificent tresses so universal among novelists' heroines - "reaching to her knees," "falling round her like a cloak," yet held up by a single tor-toiseshell hairpin, and so forth! In a tolerably wide observation of her sex, the writer has only met two pretty women who possessed such hair. As a rule, this over-thick mass, so difficult to deal with, is found on the head of extremely plain girls, who suffer from excruciating headaches, showing that the exaggerated growth drains the strength.
Monthly clipping is superfluous if the hair is in good condition. I have known cases where the hair has not been cut for ten years - except to keep it the desired length - and has quite given up "splitting at the ends." which the clipping is supposed to benefit. Of course it was massaged and otherwise cared for during that period.
If the hair is clipped, however, it should be done at a good hairdresser's, which the mother has personally inspected and seen to be spotlessly clean; the judgment of nurse or servant should never be trusted in this.
During holidays by the sea, also, towels should be taken from home to dry the children's hair. Seaside chemists could tell a painful tale of the results which occasionally ensue from using towels provided by the machine proprietors.
Overheating is bad for the hair, whether by night or by day, so that a feather pillow is as much to be avoided as an unventilated felt or fur hat. A horsehair pillow is the best thing to sleep upon, and can be obtained for 3s. 6d. in a size large enough to be split up into two small squares.
Viennese women, famous for their beauty, generally carry one of these small pillows about with them, and place it on an ordinary soft pillow in lieu of a bolster. They assert that a feather pillow brings wrinkles, and the horsehair staves them off. There is no doubt that it is much cooler to the head, and that most people sleep better on it as soon as they become accustomed to the comparative hardness.
Sleep has so much to do with beauty, as well as with health, that it is a point mothers cannot observe too closely. The old idea that people could "oversleep themselves" is now exploded. No child in a well-ventilated room will sleep a moment longer than she needs to recuperate her powers; therefore, if the child is sleepy in the morning, she should go to bed earlier at night. Some people need ten hours sleep even when grown-up, while others get as much good out of six. To expect all members of a family to sleep the same time is as absurd as expecting them to eat the same sized helping at each meal, yet how often it is done!
It is not sufficient for the night nursery to be well-ventilated; it should also be dark, with dark curtains running freely on a pole, so that they can be drawn across in a moment and yet not exclude the air on still summer nights as a blind does. Venetian blinds are, of course the ideal thing, but they are not often to be had in modern houses.
Long lace curtains are not ideal for a nursery, but where a mother positively will not see her windows without them, a separate pole should be fitted on a longer bracket for the dark curtains which cannot be dispensed with, especially in summer, when the light makes many people dream, and all people screw up their eyes in a wrinkle-inducing way.
The head of the child's bed, too, should not be tucked away in a corner of the room where the air is stagnant; in fact, the very best plan is to have the head in the centre of the room, with a screen round it to ward off draughts. It is surprising how much better many people find themselves sleep by adopting this plan.