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The History of Hair Extensions

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

Have you ever wondered who thought of placing someone else’s hair on your head for fashion? Today hair extensions are a huge part of fashion and pop culture. Hair extensions not only can change someone’s appearance but can make them feel confident in themselves. Where did the history of hair extensions all begin?

Ancient Egypt

Believe it or not, we have Cleopatra’s era to thank for hair extensions. Researchers have been able to find Egyptian carcasses wearing hair that date back to 3400 BC. The wigs that Egyptians wore were made out of human hair and sheep’s wool. They would glue hair pieces with their natural hair using wax from plants, trees, and bees. The most common colors that ancient Egyptians wore were blue, red, and gold that would match with their natural black hair. Rumor has it that Cleopatra’s favorite color to wear was blue.

Ancient Egyptians would use braids as a way to display their age, religion, and wealth. The only Egyptians that could afford hair extensions were the wealthier class like pharaohs, kings, and queens. Women weren’t the only hair wearers in ancient Egypt, men joined in on the fashion as well. Men would often shave their own hair and turn it into a wig to wear.

Europe and America

In the 1700s, the hair fashion was powdered wigs. Powdered wigs were a white hairpiece styled with curls and waves. It’s believed that a King named Louis started going bald so he turned to the use of powdered wigs. King Louis was afraid to be seen as a weak king so he used powered wigs to hide his balding head. Following the lead of their king, men and women started to wear powdered wigs.

Another rumor for the powdered wigs fashion is the spread of syphilis. Due to an outbreak in London, people would use powdered wigs to replace their hair that they lost from syphilis. Since hair was such a status symbol at the time, it was embarrassing to go without it.

20th Century Hair Extensions

Before the 20th century, most people went with simple hairstyles. A hairstyle called the “Pompadour” started to become a trend. In order to achieve that Pompadour women would use hair extensions. Long hair became a trend and the demand for wigs rose in the 1940s.

In the 1980s, attaching the hair by melting wax became a trend thanks to Simon Forbes. This allowed the Caucasian market to gain interest in hair extensions. During this time, the African American community also started placing hair weaves and hair extensions in their hair. Hair extensions became accessible for all budgets.


Today, there are a variety of options for hair extensions. If you’re concerned about budget or application there is something out there for you. Book a consultation with a hair extension specialist to find the right method for you

Does the history of hair extensions change the way you think about hair? Let us know in the comments below!

Credit: Hair Extension Magazine



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