For a period that lacked mirrors and instead used polished pieces of metal, Roman hairstyles ranged from the simple to the exquisitely intricate. According to the website hairselect.com, “Assisted by expert hairdressers and augmented with false hair and wigs, the Roman women spent much time and effort on their tresses. They even had hair dyes and bleaches.” You can emulate such styles at home for a theatre production, costume party or just because.
For those who aren’t terribly handy with creating hairstyles, you could twist the hair into a simple coiled bun at the nape of the neck or a chignon. Consider leaving a long lock of hair out of the bun or chignon and then braiding it and wrapping it around the main structure of hair. Or you could purchase an already braided hairpiece and then just pin it in place around the coil of chignon. Pull small tendrils and wisps of hair out from around the face, and curl them to frame your face.
One of the more popular styles during the late first century involved cypriote curls. Cypriote curls are small, spiral curls, and the Romans used special frames to pile the curls up high around the face, according to housebarra.com. Often, this involved using fake hair. You can achieve the same look with your own fake hair. Take a plastic sun visor, and cover it with a metallic material or paint. Glue small spiral curls in neat rows to the convex part of the sun visor until it is totally concealed. Attach the sun visor to the top of your head toward your face with pins so that the sun visor is pointing straight up. Gather the rest of your hair at the back of your neck, and twist it into a bun and secure it with pins. Add jeweled pins and barrettes to your hair for decoration.
Hairstyles for younger women and girls involved long, flowing twists or coils pulled back from the face. For example, divide your hair into three sections: right, left and middle. Tie the middle section back with an elastic band or clip. Divide the right side into three sections and curl each smaller section into a big sausage curl up against the crown. Pin each one into place against the head. Repeat with the left side. For the middle section, make big sausage curls that fall down the back.
References and ResourcesHairselect: Ancient Roman Hairstyles
House Barra: Roman Hairstyles
Fashion Era: Ancient Costumes