Makeup & Hairstyles of the 1700s

Updated July 20, 2017

Fashion in the 1700s was marked by the use of heavy make-up and elaborate hairstyles. Powdered wigs were worn both by men and women. In the 1770s the hairstyles became even more elaborate, with wigs piled up even higher than before and the curls becoming tighter. Coiffures and wigs were often adorned with decorations and ornaments. During the 1770s and 1780s the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, set the fashion with her extremely elaborate hairstyles.

Women's Hairstyles

Women used to powder their hair in the earlier 1700s but later, in the 1780s, the fashion favoured natural coloured hair with many curls. At the same time women began to wear intricately crafted hats and these took the place of the elaborate hairstyles they used to wear. The hats were in the style of shepherdesses. They were flat straw hats with low crowns and broad brims and tied with ribbons. Ladies also wore hats at home. These were simpler mob caps and rustic-style indoor hats.

Men's Wigs and Hairstyles

In the 1700s men wore different kinds of wigs for different occasions. From 1700 until about 1720 big high wigs parted in the middle were in vogue. Others were divided into three parts. These wigs could be of any natural hair colour. However, as time went on, white wigs with tight curls became more fashionable. Men wore their hair or their wigs long and brushed back from the forehead or tied back with a black ribbon at the nape of the neck. The "bag" wig featured the hair tied into a black silk bag that hung down the back. Men also wore three-cornered hats with wide brims that were turned up.

The Eighteenth Century Toilette

Both men and women put a mixture of egg white and white lead on their faces. Then they powdered their faces with potato or rice powder. They put bright red rouge on their cheeks and lips. On top of the powder they pasted small patches of fabric in the shape of stars or hearts or dots on their faces. This covered up their blemishes and was considered to be very fashionable.


Men, women and even children wore heavy make-up. The ideal made-up face featured white skin with red lips and cheeks. Some of the ingredients in the make-up they wore -- like lead, mercury and sulphur --often caused skin rashes and other medical problems. People also painted their eyebrows with eyebrow pencils or they wore fake eyebrows made out of mouse fur.

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About the Author

Wendy Dickstein is an award-winning writer and editor with over 30 years' experience as an academic, literary, legal and technical editor and journalist. She writes about security technology, real estate, science, health and literature. She has a Master of Arts from Melbourne University and belongs to the International Federation of Periodical Press.