#ADBeauty – 8 Authentic 18th Century Hairstyles!

Big Hair? Yes you can!

Possibly the post you’ve been truly waiting for, today I’m going to give you some previews of the hairstyles in our next book “The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty” coming out July 9th and available to order now.

Before we get into the hairstyles specifically, we give tutorials for making hair pieces – a toupee (the middle portion of the hair), the chignon (the long back hank of the hair), and buckles (the large curls). These extensions are historically accurate and a godsend when it comes to doing any of these styles, especially the 1780s and early ’90s fashions.

We started our hairstyling adventure in c. 1750 with a very typical French style. The reason we chose 1750 as our origin point is because hair styling for the first 50 or so years of the 18th century wasn’t all that different decade-to-decade. We wanted to show what came before the ‘rise’ of tall hair, so to speak.

Abby in the 1750s-1770s Coiffure Francaise.

Abby kicks off the book hairstyles with the Coiffure Francaise, which was was done entirely with her own shoulder-length hair. It’s an easy one to do, despite its sculptural effect!

Once we get into the mid 1760s, the hairstyles start to ascend and become more intricate. We worked with Cynthia and her massive amounts of natural red hair to create what we call the Coiffure Banane (banana hair style), which follows the taste and teaching of Legros de Rumigny.

Cynthia wearing the 1765 – 1772 Coiffure – all her own hair!

Just a few years later, by 1772, hair is *big*, built up on large cushions. Laurie‘s long hair was perfect for this enormous style, which we call the Coiffure Beignet (donut hairstyle). It’s actually one of the easiest styles in the book and is open to lots of variation. This is one of the styles that is perfect for long, and even very long hair.

Laurie Tavan modeling the 1772 – 1775 giant donut hairstyle with all her own hair!

Next comes the 1776 Coiffure Ski Alpin (ski-slope hairstyle), the fashionable silhouette for the Revolutionary War period. We named this style for the very interesting cushion shape (pattern in the book!), which is higher in the back than the front, creating a lovely platform for the display of your pouf. Jenny is our model and we give advice for working with Asian hair, which can be applied to other styles in the book.

Jenny rocks the 1776-1779 hairstyle built on the “ski slope” hair cushion.

Once we hit the 1780s, the hair silhouette begins to morph from tall to wide. The early 1780s Coiffure Chenille (caterpillar hairstyle) uses the “grub” hair cushion to give oomph in the front, with a cascade of buckles and the chignon in back. We worked with Jasmine, using her natural hair texture, and give tips for working with 3C and 4C hair types.

Jasmine displays the early 1780s hairstyle with the “grub” hair cushion, done with all her own hair.

Also in the early 1780s we present the Coiffure Friseur (frizzed hairstyle), which uses a popular and common 18th century technique called crapeing to semi-perm straight hair into tight, frizzy curls. In this chapter, Cheyney McKnight discusses the cultural appropriation of African hair texture, and we demonstrate how to crape and then create this fascinating style with Nicole‘s chin-length bob.

Nicole shows the 1780 – 1783 Coiffure Friseur.

By the mid 1780s, cloud-like hair is still in fashion. In this chapter we discuss the 18th century mullet haircut and demonstrate another method of curling and coiffing this style on me, using my own hair and the chignon hair extensions created earlier in the book.

Lauren models the 1785 – 1790 curly hairstyle with buckles and long chignon hair (a hair piece!)

The last style is the Coiffure Revolution from the early 1790s. This bevvy of curls is more relaxed and natural. We worked with Zyna, an Asian Pacific Islander, and her thick, shoulder-length hair. This is a very easy style to do!

Zyna shows the 1790 – 1794 curly and loose hairstyle tied with a chiffonet.

It’s a wild, hairy ride, but we try to explain and demonstrate each of these styles to make them as accessible as possible to all sorts of hair types, lengths, and textures. We encourage everyone to experiment and adjust as desired to create the height, width, and effects most flattering to your faces, using the historical tools, products, and accessories we give in each chapter.

The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty” comes out July 9, 2019 and is available to order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AmericanDuchess.com, and all other major booksellers.


  • Devon Perez

    February 21, 2022 at 8:57 AM

    Beautiful work! As a hairstylist for film, I find it wonderful to see this portrayed with such accuracy. I’m afraid I have 3 questions.

    1. I have the recipe for Pomantum thanks to M. Lagros via “Fashions in Hair, The First Five Thousand Years” -Richard Corson. I would love to know what the powder is that was used in the hair.

    2. Were there any female stylist to the ladies of the house in France in the 18th century? M. Lagros had a hair academy and taught people his hundreds of hair designs but was it solely to men?

    3. Where do I find more original documents on hair history, besides your amazing book which is in the shopping cart as we speak!

    Thank you for your amazing blog!

    • Lauren @ American Duchess

      February 23, 2022 at 11:33 AM

      Thanks! You’ll find a couple recipes for hair powder in the book. 🙂 There were indeed women doing hair in 18th century France, but they were usually the ladies’ maids, not traveling hair stylists like Legros. There’s an interesting passage written by Leonard moaning about female hair stylists and how it should be just for me. So sexist! As for original resources, check out the bibliography/works cited in the back of the book – we list all our sources there and many of them are available on Google books or Archive.org, etc. Best of luck!

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