Past to Present: Wigs and Hair Extensions through the Ages

Beauty standards are constantly changing. There’s almost always something trending every month. Whether it’s a new make-up trend, skincare hack, or hairstyle, the beauty community and everyone that subscribes to it is always coming up with new things. What’s considered trendy today could just be a thing of the past by tomorrow. 

Although, the cycle of beauty trends is interesting. The looks may change, but the basics are essentially the same. Trends have even been known to come back. Looking around you now, you’ll notice that there has been a distinct shift back to early 2000’s fashion. 

That said, again, the tools and techniques we use to achieve these looks aren’t all that different to what came before. Make-up and fashion have been present in society for centuries. Another essential beauty item that’s been around for centuries is hair extensions. Its history dates back to 3400 BC. 

Here’s a brief history of hair extensions throughout the ages, all the way to today.

Where it All Began: 3400 BC

Cleopatra is one of the most famous female figures in history. She greatly influenced Roman politics at a very crucial time. She’s most known for her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. She is probably the most famous representation of a femme fatale. She is also the one to thank for the hair extensions you have today. 

It was during Cleopatra’s era that hair weaves became extremely popular. There’s plenty of proof that documents ancient Egyptian women used human hair and sheep’s wool to create their versions of hair extensions, wigs, and even braids. It’s been a fashion statement since before the invention of the wheel in certain cultures. 

Just like how they used bugs and other natural materials and ingredients to make their make-up, they also used to keep the hair extensions in place. The wax from bees and trees were commonly used for this purpose. And of course, as you well know, you can’t just slap a wig on and be done with it. Even ancient Egyptians took the time to style their wigs. 

Aside from enhancing people’s appearance, hair extensions, wigs, and the like were also used for protection. The sweltering heat in the back in ancient Egypt could be uncomfortable and sometimes unbearable. These beauty items helped to protect them against the sun and keep their heads free of any vermin. 

Lastly, these hairpieces were also used to denote rank and one’s place in society. It wasn’t just women that used them. Men and even children also did. It showed off their social status. Most of the people that wore weaves and wigs were part of the elite. The more intricate and well-made the weaves and wigs were, the richer the people. 

A Big Change: 18th Century 

Fast forward to the 18th century, and you have French King Louis XIV. Louis XIV reigned over France during a time of great prosperity. He’s well-known for having the magnificent Palace of Versailles. Looks and appearance were very important for the King.

Louis XIV was also known for being quite the trendsetter. He was just as much the king of fashion as he was the King of France. Naturally, when his hair started thinning, he resorted to wearing the largest, longest wigs he could find. And that set off a trend that would go on to impact the history of hair in general.

Men wore massive white wigs to showcase their status or even try to elevate it. However, it’s worth noting, part of the reason they wore these wigs were to hide balding spots on their head. Nevertheless, it was very effective in helping them command the room and exude or at least the same air the King did. 

As for women, they didn’t wear powdered wigs like the men. Instead, they wore coiffures that we supplemented by artificial hair. They usually powdered their natural hair grey or blue-ish grey to match how the men looked. So, you could say that men wore wigs while women wore hair extensions. 

It’s no surprise that wigs and hair extensions were used to showcase one’s wealth and status back then. Wigs that were made out of natural human hair were quite expensive. Not to mention the fact that the better the quality, the higher the price. They often bought hair mostly from poor women.

What We Know Today

Now, jumping into the present, wigs and hair extensions represent something completely different. Today, most people can get good quality hair extensions without spending an arm and a leg. These beauty items aren’t used to showcase social status. Instead, they’re used to express yourself. 

Of course, it’s still about making yourself look better, more beautiful, and so on, but it’s less intense. The wigs and hair extensions available today are much more different than what they had to offer before.

Today you can choose from many hair extensions to give your hair more length, volume, and even a pop of colour! There’s no limit to the looks you can achieve and explore with the help of wigs and hair extensions. 

The quality of the available items are also much more comfortable and focus on giving a natural look. Even when you want to add a bright colour to your head, as long as you put it on right and style it well, it should perfectly blend in with the rest of your hair. 

It’s pretty interesting how different yet familiar the use of wigs and hair extensions were back then compared to now. The beauty standards and current trends are different now, yet we’re all benefiting from what came before. 


People were using hair extensions long before the beauty industry popularised it among people like us. With some research and digging, you’ll find that most of the beauty items, tools, and techniques we use date today back to almost ancient times. Trends may change, but the foundation stays the same. 

Understanding the history of everyday beauty items can help you better appreciate the quality of what you have now. Although we didn’t create them, we’ve innovated them to make them easier to use and even more beautiful when we put them on. It will be exciting to see where trends will go in the future. Will we see a comeback in the massive powered wigs from the past or something utterly new outside our imagination?

Foxy Locks is a UK-based company that provides women with the best quality hair products. Our products are made solely for us—you can’t get the same thing anywhere else. We offer our customers a wide range of options, from the length, colour, type, and more! Browse through our collection of Foxy Locks extensions and find the perfect fit for you!

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