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Egyptian wig history

For ancient Egyptians, appearance was an important issue. Appearance indicated a person’s status, role in society or political significance. Egyptian hairstyles and our hairstyles today have many things in common. Like modern hairstyles Egyptian hairstyles varied with age, gender and social status.


In ancient Egypt, Men and women used to shave their heads bald replacing their natural hair with wigs. Egyptian women did not walk around showing their bald heads, they always wore wigs. Head shaving had a number of benefits.               


First, removing their hair made it much more comfortable in the hot Egyptian climate. Second, it was easy to maintain a high degree of cleanliness avoiding danger of lice infestation. In addition, people wore wigs when their natural hair was gone due to old age. However, even though the Egyptians shaved their heads, they did not think the bald look was preferable to having hair. Wigs were very popular and worn by men, women and children. They were adorned both inside and outside of the house. Egyptians put on a new wig each day and wigs were greatly varied in styles. The primary function of the wig was as headdress for special occasion, such as ceremonies and banquets. 


Like today, ancient Egyptians were also facing the same problem of the hair loss, and they wanted to maintain their youthful appearance as long as possible. There were many kinds of suggested remedies targeting primarily men.

 In 1150 BC, Egyptian men applied fats from ibex, lions, crocodiles, serpent, geese, and hippopotami to their scalps. The fat of cats and goats was also recommended. Chopped lettuce patches were used to smear the bald spots to encourage hair growth. 

Ancient Egyptians also made use of something similar to modern aromatherapy. Fir oil, (sweet) almond oil and castor oil were often used to stimulate hair growth. The seeds of Fenu Greek, The plant herbalists and pharmacologists still use it today. 


More History on Wigs

Wigs have seemingly been worn throughout history, even on the genitals (see merkin); the ancient Egyptians, for instance, wore them to shield their hairless heads from the sun. George IV (born in 1762), wore an auburn wig for his coronation in 1821 and this official portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence.

          Queen Elizabeth I of England famously wore red wig, tightly and elaborated curled in a “Roman” style and King Louis XIII of France pioneered wig- wearing among men from the 1620s onwards.

          During the 18th century, wigs became smaller and more formal with several professions adopting them as a part of their official costumes. This tradition survives in a few legal systems. They are routinely worn in various countries of Commonwealth. Until 1823, bishops of the Church of England and Church of Ireland wore ceremonial wigs.                                                                                           


The wearing of the wigs as symbol status was largely abandoned in the newly created United States and France by the start of the 19th century, although it persisted a little longer in the United Kingdom.

          A number of celebrities, including Dolly Parton and Raquel Welch have popularized wigs. Cher has worn all kinds of wigs in the last 40 years- from blonde to black, and curly to straight.

          Orthodox Jewish religious law (halakha) requires married women to cover her hair for reasons of modesty. Some women wear wigs, known as a sheitel, for this purpose.  

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