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What is a Headband?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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A headband can be a functional or decorative hair accessory and sometimes both. Predecessors of the headband in history include wreaths and ribbons, and there have been many times when people sought to either decorate the hair with a band around the head, or to keep it in place with a skillfully placed band. There are numerous types of headbands to choose from presently, and they are made in many different materials.

Varieties include fully round headbands that may tie, or may have elastic to keep them in place around the head. Half bands sit on the top of the head and come down on each side to the middle of the ears. Some half bands and round bands have teeth that help secure the band and keep the hair in better place.

Material choices include leather, stretchy fabrics for round bands, plastic, and fabric over plastic or wire. Skinny and wide bands exist and some are suited for wear by adults, while others are smaller and made for children, usually girls. Most headbands contain some give so they can fit on different sized heads and so that they will stay in place. Older bands may stretch after a while and slip. Some styles are very expensive and can contain real jewels or rare materials.

A common look dating to the 1950s was the headband worn to pull back the hair from the forehead. This look could be decorative or practical. Sometimes the band merely was decorative and women would still wear bangs below it. Headband looks of this type are associated with teased hairstyles and the look remained into the early 1960s. Though bands were primarily worn by younger women, older women might use them too, especially as hair teasing got more extensive.

As worn in the late 1960s, by men and women, circular headbands were sported around the forehead and were similar to the headdresses of some Native American groups. This look was revived in the 1980s with the “aerobic dance” craze, and the Olivia Newton John song “Physical.” Many athletes of both genders continue to use headbands as sweatbands, to help keep sweat from running into the eyes.

Women and young girls still enjoy the varied styles of the headband for fashionable reasons, and some metrosexuals have embraced bands too. One practical use that is helpful is to pull hair out of the eyes when people have long bangs, or even short bangs that are causing eye irritation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon127651 — On Nov 16, 2010

Does anyone know some interesting facts about the headband? Most importantly how it came to the Hawaiian islands or America?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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