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Southern Hair Dos

The higher the hair, the closer to God: Southern hairstyles and history

We often hear that Southern mantra "The higher the hair, the closer to God." Dolly Parton once said, “If anyone tells you your hair is too big, get rid of them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.” For centuries, women’s hair has been used as a form of expression, but also an outlet for immense creativity. While women are able to be unique with their clothing and makeup of choice, there is a special signature beauty that comes only from freshly done hair. This rings especially true in the South, where a day at the beauty parlor is one of self care, primping and socializing.


Talk about "The higher the hair, the closer to God," it doesn't get higher than this. It was Civil Rights Activist and Alabamian Angela Davis who sported an Afro as a sign of black female power and rebellion against American beauty standards, beginning a trend across America of wearing the natural, high-off-the-head hairstyle. Other famous American icons like Oprah, Diana Ross and Pam Grier have rocked the Afro and demonstrated how beautiful natural hair truly is.


1. Separate any clumping curls with comb

2. Softly tease curls upwards to add body and volume

3. Finish by adding hair oil of choice to lock in hydration and shine

Half Updo

This hairstyle is so simple, but also so classy it can be worn for any occasion. In fact, celebrities Carrie Underwood, Miley Cyrus, Angelina Jolie, and Anne Hathaway wear it often on the red carpet. What is so special about it? It captures that undone and messy style, while still remaining elegant and formal.


1. Loosely curl hair with 1 1/2 inch barrel curling iron

2. Separate face framing bangs or layers from rest of the hair

3. Bring hair from the front of the face and tie into a loose knot in the back of the head

4. Using bobby pins, secure the knot in place

5. Finish with hairspray 


One hairstyle that dominates Friday night lights, carpool lines, and many proms and homecomings is the ponytail. The origins of the ponytail can be traced back to ancient Greek art work, where women were depicted wearing their hair in this style. While there are numerous variations of the ponytail throughout history, the fundamentals haven't changed at all. 


1. Start by making loose waves with curling iron

2. Tease hair at the crown of the head with a comb or brush

3. Separate face framing bangs or tendrils from rest of the hair

4. Sweep rest of hair into a tight pony tail at the crown of the head

5. Take a small section of hair from the bottom of the pony tail

6. Optional: wrap the piece of hair around the hair tie securing the ponytail

Natural Gray

It is no secret that many women avoid going gray with decades of dyeing their hair, yet embracing one's natural gray can be a symbol of confidence and 'one less thing' to have to maintain. Country music icon and Alabamian Emmylou Harris has said, “A lot of times, Mother Nature knows what she's doing." Harris went prematurely gray in her early 20s but didn't embrace it until a red henna hair dye disaster in her 40s. Thinking about going gray? First talk to your stylist to decide if your hair is healthy enough to bleach into transition or if you should just start letting it grow out. 


1. Start by adding a volumizing hair product into scalp

2. Smooth hair out with a round brush and blowdryer

3. Run the round brush through bangs adding more volume to them

4. Finish with hairspray

Long Hair

Whether you get out the hot rollers and hair spray or just wear it sleek, long hair is a tried and true style of Southern women. A simple straight and long hairstyle is not only elegant, but also professional. The big key to wearing long hair is taking care of those locks.

Directions: 1. Shampoo and blow hair out with round brush

2. Put heat protectant and a glossing product into hair

3. Straighten hair with silk press or flat iron

4. Finish with hairspray


Bouffant wigs became a symbol of excess in the 1700s thanks to Queen of France Marie Antionette. The style returned in the mid-20th century, and although not as high and poofy as in 1960, remains a popular Southern do of beauty queens and country musicians. Most famous bouffants: Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood.


1. Brush through hair to make the surface smooth

2. Use curling iron to reduce frizz and straighten roots out

3. Separate hair into 1 inch sections along entire head

4. Backcomb through the hair starting at the crown of the head and moving down vertically

5. Brush gently along the teased hair to shape hair, making sure to avoid the scalp

6. Finish with lots of hairspray

Hair by Tonya Jones Salon @thetonyajones

Makeup By Nancy Finnegan MUA @nancyfinneganmua