Roman hairstyles are characterized by being intensively elaborate.
Although young girls might merely gather their hair into a bun at the
back or form it into a coiled knot at the top of the head, the hairstyles
of the married upper class were more involved. First, they followed the
Etruscan style of tying their hair tightly with ribbons at the crown of
the head. This changed to hair arranged in layers, with an abundance of
ringlets falling to the sides. 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. Using
polished metal in place of mirrors, Roman women would often dye their
hair a golden-red, adding to the thickness and length with hairpieces,
and holding it together with jeweled hairpins.
After the early simple styles of the bun and chignon were insufficient to satisfy the ever changing desires of the stylish Roman lady, hair saw elaborate built-up creations, giving them both height and complication that were unmatched until centuries later in the French court of Louis the XVI. So concerned with fashion styles, they had removable hairstyles for their portrait busts so that they would be remembered at the height of fashion.
Mechanical devices assisted with the creations and including wire
supports, hairnets, hairpins and even curling irons and holding
solutions such as gum arabic. Wigs were created from the blonde hair of
captive Germans and Celts.
For those of simpler means, a chignon or bun could be dressed up by braiding the hair or by surronuding the bun with a separate braid. The hair would be parted in the middle with small twists of hair pulled around the face and curled. Young girls might wear their hair in long curls in the back with front and side treatments that included twists and waves.