V229: Analyzing Hedgehog Hairstyles

I am always on a quest to achieve bigger, better 18th century hair styles.  Some hairstyles are super complicated, like the poufs of the 1770s.  Some appear to be more simple, like the hedgehogs of the 1780s and 90s.  What I’ve learned over the past several years of doing this, though…?

None of it is “simple.”

Take the hedgehog, for instance.  It *looks* like just a big frizzy fro-poof-madness on your head, with a long tail down the back…but upon taking a closer look at period portraits, fashion plates, and particularly well-done movie renditions (hello, “The Duchess”), there are all sorts of other things going on.  Here are my notes…

Some things to keep in mind about The Hedgehog:

  • It is wider than it is tall
  • The fro-poof curls come down around the ears, or cover the ears
  • Longer, thicker curls or rolls accompany the sides, below the ears.  Sometimes these are sausage curls, sometimes they are the more sculpted rolls, hanging down the neck.
  • Very often there is an extremely long cadogan loop or ponytail down the back – sometimes curled, but very often straight.

I had an old wig I turned into a hedgehog some years ago, but have never really been happy with. I decided to give it a makeover, so I used a hair straightener to relax the too-tight curls I had gathered into a ponytail at the back.  I then separated the now mullet-like, limp, fuzzy hair into three sections – back, left side, and right side – tying the back off in a ponytail, and creating two large loops on each side.  The back ponytail is far too short for what I want, but luckily it’s easy to add super-long, super-cheap braid hair, just sewn to the base at the back, to create the long, puffy ponytail so popular in the late 1780s.

Here is my quick throw-together from this morning, to show the re-styled wig.  To style this correctly, I would curl the front of my hair tightly, then tease it and blend it into the curls of the wig.  Because my hair and my wig are obviously two different colors, I would then powder the whole thing (either with corn starch, or a spray-on white/silver hair coloring), to blend it all in as one.

For more hair inspiration, and 18th century everything, check out my 18th century costume Pinterest board.


  • Cynthia Griffith

    August 16, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Styling my first hedgehog to use with my own length like Mme. Lavoisier's was interesting, and eventually I'm hoping to have another with smoother structured shapes and loop my length up for another look. It's interesting to see all of the options you can create and have fun trying!

    • Lauren Stowell

      August 16, 2012 at 11:38 PM

      Your long tail is AMAZING! It was weird to hear that there were long-hair creepers making weird-o comments. Please don't hide your hair on their account! Those of us who must use the fake stuff from the beauty supply are so jealous 🙂

    • Cynthia Griffith

      August 17, 2012 at 12:31 AM

      Aww, that's sweet and very encouraging, thanks! I will probably usually wear it down when I wear my chemise a la reine, but it would be fun to try other things with it to change it up a little as well. The funniest thing I've been learning is I'll probably need to wear a lot of fake pieces too. Might be easier in the long run, even though it makes me laugh to add even more! I've never really messed with wigs and hair pieces before, so I appreciate folks like you who share tips — it helps give me confidence to try something new. 😀

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    August 16, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    I love the title of this post. Imagine someone who knows nothing of 18th C hair seeing that!! Visions of hedgehogs scurrying into little hedgehog hair salons for a quick styling teehee!
    Even your quick morning up do looks amazing!

    • Lauren Stowell

      August 16, 2012 at 11:38 PM

      Hahha! Surely there is a satirical cartoon somewhere of a woman with a hedgehog on her head. I've never been totally clear why the hairstyle got that name. Do you know?

    • MrsC (Maryanne)

      August 17, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      Good question! I've always assumed it is because it looks like a hedgehog, well as much as the Chien Couchant looks like a sleeping dog did. Quite a bit of poetic licence in naming hairdos back then?
      Also, the french for hedgehog is "herisson", which makes me wonder if it is a pun of some kind in English. But really I've no idea. It's fun to speculate though isn't it! 🙂

  • Élisabeth

    August 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    The hairstyle seems really perfect to me! The rolls below the ears are very very nice! I have tried to do some on my wig, but with no result… Good job! (this makes me want to comb another hedgehog wig!)

  • Caroline

    August 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Beautiful! You really captured the look. Have you seen the painting, three ladies by Sir Joshua Reynolds? They don't have hedgehogs, but the silhouette is very much the same: hairline and neck curls. So pretty! Lovely job, as always.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from American Duchess Blog

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading