WIGS, IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, HAVE BEEN AROUND AS LONG AS THERE HAVE BEEN PEOPLE WITH HAIR LOSS. THAT’S A LONG TIME.
Wigs have existed for centuries. Let’s take a look at the evolution of wigs from ancient times to modern day.
Wigs in ancient times
Wigs have been around since the days of ancient Egypt. Egyptians would shave their heads because of the danger of lice and the area’s hot climate. In public, however, they wanted to have hair, so they would wear wigs. Egyptian men and women wore wigs as part of their daily wardrobe. Women often embellished their wigs with ivory ornaments and gold accents. The size and stature of people’s wigs would oftentimes indicate their social or political rank. The more fancy and elaborate the wigs, the higher their status.
Egyptians weren’t the only ancient civilization to wear wigs. Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians and other cultures often donned wigs — particularly the wealthy population. During this time period in ancient Japan and China, wigs were worn only by actors or performers. Wigs were made from both animal hair and human hair.
Wigs during the Renaissance
During the Middle Ages, wigs weren’t important or popular, since beauty and fashion were not at the forefront; however in the Renaissance period wigs emerged again as women showed off their hairstyles. It was quite common for well-to-do women to have several wigs adorned with elaborate jewels and other embellishments.
Although Louis XIII of France might not have been the first man to disguise his baldness with a wig, he may be the most famous of his time. After going prematurely bald, he amassed a collection of elaborate wigs that he would wear for every occasion. During the 17th century both men and women of nobility in France and across Europe wore wigs. It was soon customary for all people of any stature to wear exquisite hairpieces.
In the 18th century sky-high, white powdered wigs made of horsehair were commonplace. These wigs featured many curls and long ringlets. “Big hair” was definitely trendy for European men and women. Wig makers had begun to emerge from Paris and throughout Europe. And as more wigs were produced, they became more readily available to the general population, rather than just the privileged.
In colonial America as well, powdered wigs were popular. There the styles were shorter and simpler than for their European counterparts. These powdered bob wigs were worn by political figures as well as middle-class people. By the end of the 18th century, the popularity of wigs began to fade. Soon wigs were worn only by those in the court and some aristocracy.
Wigs in the 20th century
During the 20th century, because of advances in technology in wig making, wigs looked more like natural hairstyles. Both synthetic and human-hair wigs are now available almost everywhere in the world. Human-hair wigs are the most versatile, as they can be styled in every way imaginable; however, synthetic wigs are easier to maintain than natural-hair wigs and are generally less expensive.
Although wigs are not as common as they were in centuries gone by, many people wear them to hide hair loss or to effortlessly change hairstyles. Some performers — from Cher to Dolly Parton — wear wigs on stage, and of course wigs are always popular as part of costumes on Halloween.
For those suffering from hair loss, wigs can be an essential part of your everyday wardrobe. From the earliest of civilizations, wigs have been used by men and women for both practical and cosmetic reasons. Today, wigs have advanced to the point that there is a hairpiece to serve every conceivable niche.