As with clothes, there were several hairstyles that were limited to certain people in ancient society.Styles are so distinctive they allow scholars today to create a chronology of Roman portraiture and art; we are able to date pictures of the empresses on coins, or identify busts depending on their hairstyles.The back of the hair was usually collar length and the side hair covered the ears by 1857.
"Natural" showed a lack of culture, and grooming of the hair went hand-in-hand with being part of a sophisticated civilization.
Incidentally, the association with barbarians was why Roman men kept their hair cut short.
Apart from society, hair was used symbolically to mark rites of passage; for instance, loosened hair was common at a funeral, and the seni crines was the hairstyle worn by brides and Vestal Virgins; divided and plaited into six braids, and in the case of the bride, it was parted with a spear.
There was a marked difference in hair acceptable for preadolescent girls and sexually mature women.
Hairdressing and its necessary accompaniment, mirror gazing, were seen as distinctly feminine activities.
Lengthy grooming sessions for women were tolerated, despite writers such as Tertullian and Pliny commenting on their abhorrence for time and energy women dedicate to their hair.
Preadolescent girls would often have long hair cascading down the back where as women would have equally long hair but it would be controlled through wrapping and braiding.
Perhaps due to its erotic association, hair was often linked with Roman ideas of female modesty and honour.
Hair was a very erotic area of the female body for the Romans, and attractiveness of a woman was tied to the presentation of her hair.
As a result, it was seen as appropriate for a woman to spend time on her hair in order to create a flattering appearance.
Much like today, hair for the Romans was as much an expression of personal identity as clothes.