Between the beginning and the end of the 1800s there were, naturally, a variety of popular hairstyles for women. These changed as the century went on and according the particular direction of culture and fashion at any given time. Although ladies in the 19th century almost always had long hair, they tended to wear it up.
The Regency period lasted from the turn of the century until around 1825. Women of this era tended to part their hair in a "T" or "Y" shape so they could pin up the back but leave the front down. The front of the hair was cut around chin length or just below and often curled into soft ringlets. The back of the hair was braided and pinned or put in a bun, following ancient Greek and Roman styles.
Romantic fashion and culture lasted between about 1825 and 1845, overlapping slightly with the start of the Victorian age. Women's hair in the Romantic era was extravagant and ornate. Two of the best-documented hairstyles of this period were the Apollo knot and the Madonna. The Apollo knot consisted of two large knots on the top of the head that were adorned with flowers. The Madonna style involved a centre part, with many curls in layers at the front and on the crown of the head.
The Victorian period started in 1837, with the crowning of Queen Victoria, and went on until 1901. In early Victorian times, most women had neat, smooth, centre-parted hair, which was pulled back tightly and then pinned up. In 1872, the heated curling iron was introduced. As a result, curled and waved hair made a comeback. Women would curl or wave their hair all over and then braid it or tie it up into a bun.
In the Regency era, the most common hair or head accessory for a woman was her bonnet. Women in the later 1800s also often wore hair ornaments, such as ornamental combs and hairpins. These were stuck into the hair with the decorative top part showing. In late Victorian times, it was normal for ladies to wear headbands and flowers in their hair.