By Mary N. DiZazzo

When Bigger (Hair) Was Better

Ciao bella,

Today we may think it's a fad --all the attention on hair extensions and poofy, volumized hair. Just walk down the hair care aisle in any CVS and you'll be able to find volumizing hair products by the truck full. This trend actually pales in comparison to the styles of the late nineteenth century.

Ladies in Europe and the U.S. were piling on hair pieces accentuated with fancy combs and barrettes.

The chignon, most popular for a decade, was worn low at the back of the head. Later in the decade it was brought forward to the front of the head, most disturbingly to fashion writers. In 1877, Robert Tome's The Bazaar Book of Decorum expressed the opinion that the chignon exhibited a tumor-like excrescence disfiguring the top of the head with the appearance of a horrid growth of disease."

It still didn't discourage women from using false hair.

By the 1890s, American women were ready for a change. The modern style was more natural in an ultra-simple topknot.

In fact, hair dye and make-up were making an appearance after being morally frowned upon. Compacts that held powder were mass-marketed but often concealed in the lining of a purse or the handle of a walking stick. America was just not ready for flagrant displays of beauty yet.

The only thing concealed in my husband's walking stick is a grand shot of rye whiskey.

[Source: American Salon Magazine by Wella Corp.]

Buona giornata and God bless the United States of America!

Have you missed any of Mary's columns in the Post-Gazette? Read prior weeks' "All That Zazz" columns on her website She is a third-generation cosmetologist and owner of Mary for Nails, etc. natural nailcare salon in Andover, and a Massachusetts distributor of Kosmea brand rose hip oil products. She may be contacted at (978) 470-8183. She also sees select clients by appointment in Boston at (617) 742-6881.