Comments & Curiosities: A few snippets on haircuts

Need a haircut? I always do. But if you need one, get yourself down to Hampton Salon, on Bayside Circle in Newport Beach by 4 p.m. today.

It's important. Every hair that ends up underfoot at Hampton Salon today will be sacrificed for a very good cause — to benefit Containers of Hope, a Christian nonprofit that provides food and school supplies to kids around the world.

The event is called "Cuts for Change," and not only do you get a perfect trim but it's way too cheap to stay home. If you're a new customer, it's ten bucks for a cut, twenty bucks for a cut and blow-dry. Can you beat that? You cannot.

Normally, a woman's cut and blow-dry starts at $70. Twenty bucks is better.

"Our goal is to provide people with a great haircut and send them out not only looking good, but feeling good about doing something to help others," said Condren Hampton, who is the actual, real-life Hampton in Hampton Salon.

Containers of Hope was founded by the mother of one of Hampton's stylists, Ashley Guillory.

"We're going to be doing what we do best for charity," said Guillory.

It is a wonderful idea and I say two thumbs up, at least, to all the snippers at Hampton Salon. But here is my question — how long have people been cutting their hair?

Who was the first person to say, "You gotta get a trim, bud. You're starting to look like Crystal Gayle"?

The answer is interesting, assuming you use a pretty loose definition of interesting. Ancient Egypt is where you'll find the first recorded images or references to hair that had been cut and/or styled. There were no blow driers at the time, and for good reason, with temperatures of 120 degrees or more in the region. Oh, I forgot — it was a dry heat.

So it's possible that the very first haircuts were simply a defense mechanism against the heat. Egyptian men and women kept things short, neat and trimmed, except for special occasions, when women wore long, curled wigs trimmed with ribbons, gold and ivory hairpins, which must have been very pleasant when it was 120 degrees.

The ancient Greeks added a few twists, literally, with a popular woman's style being long hair twisted tight into a chignon at the back of the head. Women also decorated their hair with flowers, and this is when the first references to hair coloring appeared. Girls who wanted to have more fun dyed their hair with henna, and for special occasions, sprinkled it with golden hair powder. I have no idea what that is but it sounds real messy.

The ancient Romans elevated hairstyling to a level that wasn't far from what we know today. The Romans had hair salons, curling irons and both men and women dyed their hair blond. Like their Greek sista's, Roman girls also loved to sprinkle golden hair powder on the top floor, which is fine but still sounds messy.

Noble women in Rome became very competitive about wigs for special occasions, with long curls piled so high they needed a wire frame underneath them, not unlike what we would use for a tomato plant, which must have been really comfortable.

I guessing the last step was to get a footstool and sprinkle everything down good with golden powder. The best hair stylists were treated like royalty in Ancient Rome and wealthy women fought over them like cats and dogs, except they were people.

The strangest hair-era, by far, was the 18th century. Remember those tall wigs in Ancient Rome? Child's play. Amateur hour compared to the Restoration. Wigs that were three feet, five feet and more weighed a ton and were held up by heavy wire frames.

But it was the trimmings on them that were out of control, off the chain, loopy — with wild hats, virtual mini-gardens, ribbons and jewels, stuffed and real birds. Yikes. It could take an entire day to prepare a wig with a crew of hairdressers circling the tower and building the imposing structure.

At the big party, wig wranglers stood close by so they could do something if the thing started to go south, although I'm not sure how much they could do other than shouting "Look out, it's goin' down!"

Because women would leave the uber-wigs on for days at a time, sleeping on special racks, the wigs soon became mini-forests, with all sorts of creatures great and small running around in there. When she was in full battle dress, a woman carried a stick her to scratch her head and try to control the wildlife in there as best she could.

By the Victorian age, in the 19th century, things had calmed down, a lot, and a great value was put on natural hairstyles and personal hygiene. The list of services in a Victorian hair salon would look pretty familiar today.

By the 20th century, celebrity worship was in full bloom and hairstyles were usually dictated by whatever the beautiful people were doing in the hair department.

I think that's it. Containers of Hope, lending a hand, and golden hair powder. If you can get down to Hampton Salon today, you will look good, you'll feel better about yourself, and they'll make sure there are no hamsters in your hair, which is a good thing. I gotta go.

PETER BUFFA is a former Costa Mesa mayor. His column runs Sundays. He may be reached at

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