The History Of Hairspray: How Updos Became A Thing

By | August 27, 2019

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Joan Collins, British actress, with her hair in a beehive hairstyle with a white bow, circa 1955. Source: (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

A look through a timeline of historical hairstyles will show you that women of the past liked to wear their hair up. Buns, braids, and updos gave women a chance to show off their style as well as keep their long hair out of their eyes at a time when the wrong step would find you knee-deep in horse poop. But have you ever wondered how women in the past created these gravity-defying hairstyles prior to the introduction of aerosol hairsprays? Let's look at the history of hairspray to see how women of the past were able to keep their curls from falling. 

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For Victorian women, Bandoline was a welcomed alternative to animal grease or wax. Source: (

Bandoline, the Victorian Lady's Best Friend

We will start our look at hairspray in the Victorian Era, though we know that women prior to this used various substances such as wax, grease, and sap to keep their updos up. In Victorian times, however, a commercial product known as bandoline was sold as a sort of pre-hairspray hairspray. Bandoline was a liquid made of watered-down tree gum with a few teaspoons of rum and a dash or two of fragrances such as essence of almonds or rose oil that was applied to the hair to make it sticky. It held the hair in place, but the clear liquid didn't show on the strands, lest observers get the impression that their hair wasn't naturally cone-shaped. The product was so successful that soon, Victorian ladies abandoned hair waxes entirely in favor of bandoline.