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Powder Act

Across the channel, 1795 was marked by the Hair Powder Act, a luxury tax proposed by William Pitt to generate revenue for the ongoing war with France. This act caused heavy debates and provoked the emergence of the Crops who played a crucial role in the shift from the extravagant macaroni to the comparably modest escort.

Following the tax wearing hair powder now required a permit which cost a guinea per year. Those who wore hair powder were called guinea pigs, an easy catch for caricaturists.

The tax mainly affected the middle classes who could no longer afford to powder and feared a loss in their social status. Moreover, the unpowdered style evoked the idea of sexy fashions, a rather unsettling association. Ultimately, the Hair Powder Act provoked a division of the public into opponents and supporters of the war, but also into rich and poor. Opponents to the tax and the war protested by cropping their hair, most notably the Duke of Bedford who held a cropping party where he and his guests cut their hair short.