Hairdressing is a profession which involves cutting, styling, and dressing both men and women's hair. People who work in this profession may be employed in salons and hair studios, may work out of their homes, may travel with people who need hairdressing services, or can work in settings such as film and television, preparing hair for shoots and other events. In many regions of the world, hairdressing is regulated, and people must go to school and pass an exam before they can work as hairdressers.
Hairdressing is one of the most ancient professions. Evidence at archaeological sites shows that many early human cultures dressed and ornamented their hair, especially for ceremonial and ritual occasions. Evidence of hairdressing can also be seen in works of art depicting hairdressing activity, and in tools of the trade which have been uncovered at various sites. In cultures like Ancient China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, wealthy members of society had personal hairdressers who would style their hair in elaborate fashions.
The tradition of maintaining private hairdressers stayed fashionable in many cultures as hair styles became more elaborate. Personal hairdressers would curl, cut, and style hair, in addition to working with wigs. At various points in history, hair has climbed to rather dizzying heights. The French pompadour, for example, was a painstaking style to craft, and some traditional Japanese hairstyles also require the hands of a skilled hairdresser. Over time, people began setting up shop as hairdressers, providing services to clients in storefronts or by traveling to their homes.
Modern hairdressers engage in a range of activities. Most cut, curl, and trim hair. They can also style hair for special occasions, as seen when a wedding party goes to the hairdresser for styling. Coloring and performing other chemical treatments on hair such as relaxing, straightening, and perming are also services a hairdresser may provide. Many can also work with wigs; in some cultures, wigs are still traditionally worn and hairdressers fit and style them, and hairdressers also work with people who have lost their hair to medical issues such as alopecia and cancer.
Hairdressing is often a highly segregated profession. While men and women both work as hairdressers with clients of mixed genders, there tend to be racial divides in hairdressing. In part, this is because many hairdressers focus on the needs of specific hair types. Someone who is accustomed to working with clients of European descent, for example, may have difficulty with clients of African descent. Some hairdressers attend additional training so that they can offer multiracial hairdressing services.