What in the wig?

Quick facts about the hair we love.

by a CysterWigs’ Contributor

After reading this article, you’ll be left thinking ‘’what in the ‘wig’?’’

Wigs are so convenient – there is no denying that.

I personally cannot tell you how many times my wigs have saved me from ‘’bad hair days’’- you know days when your hair is just so frustrating and you are not really in the mood to do anything to it. I know hair rocks but there are days when I just want to stuff my hair underneath a scarf and call it a day! Those are the days I turn to my trusted wigs for help. They are versatile and they are capable of switching up our looks from casual to glam in just a few moments. It is funny though how popular wigs have become over the years in pop culture and amongst women. Yet, we still know little about how wigs came to be.

I bet you won’t look at them the same way anymore, especially after you read these facts that just might flip your wig!

Did you know wigs are more ancient than we thought? Yes, they go waaaay back. In fact, most wigs were designed for specific purposes.

It all began in Egypt when ancient folks were tired of having their bald or shaved heads exposed to the sun during the day; they needed a shield, something decorative and befitting. So they designed wigs to cover their hairless scalp while beeswax was used to keep wigs in place back then. Amazing, right?

Humans have been going extreme lengths to look fabulous since the dawn of time. I am not complaining though, I love it. I just admire how open they also were back then to trying out different things to their hair. I think the Egyptians rocked wigs so well that other cultures from other parts of the world adopted wigs too–like the Romans and the Greeks.

Other facts include…

1. A wig was originally known as a ‘’Periwig’’. They were used initially to cover hair loss or deformity and to protect hair from hair lice.
2. Wig makers adopted the use of natural human hair in seventeenth century to produce wigs.
3. Wigs were worn by military soldiers in Britain. I am not one to object fashionable moments but I cannot help but imagine the battlefields then – men fighting each other for power and position whilst rocking naturally-colored wigs with their uniforms. What a sight to behold!
4. Wigs depicted a divide between the upper-class from the lower-class in the society. Meaning only rich families could afford wigs back then.
5. In the seventeenth century, people began to seek an alternative to expensive wigs and they came up with using the hairs of goats and horses as wigs.

What do you think of these facts? And most importantly which of these facts are you learning for the first time? Let us know in our comment section.

2 Comments

  1. July 23, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Excellent article!!! One doesn’t think about the history of wigs and how common and essential they were in centuries past. I must say thank you to the author for writing this article because I was reminded of these facts. Since becoming a wig wearer, I have been so preoccupied about my hair loss and wig journey that not once did I think back to those times … With hair or without, it used to be a must to wear a wig! Look at our own George Washington and Martha Washington and at Thomas Jefferson: wig wearers! I find it interesting that English judges and barristers still wear peruke wigs when in court!!! As do their counterparts in the former British colony of Hong Kong. However, no matter the symbolism … it must be hot (literally hot — not sexy hot) if one is a female barrister with a full head of hair and a peruke on top of that! My favourite all time epic wigs are the ones Marie Antoinette owned that were adorned with long feathers and strings of pearls and ships and birdcages. If Jon Renau were to make a Marie Antoinette wig … fully hand-tied of course … would I buy it? Probably not, lol!!! But I say yes to wig wearing and adorning our wigs with hairclips and lovely hairbands!

  2. Jeffrey J
    July 25, 2018 / 2:10 pm

    I would also like to express not only my appreciation for this excellent blog entry but the apparent interest by some in this subject as shown by Anne A in her comment. While I am no authority on the hairstyles/wigs worn by British soldiers in days past, I feel confident providing some insight into the hairstyles/wigs worn by the Spanish soldiers from the late 1500s through the late 1700s. As both a history professor and living history Spanish Army re-enactor, I have a special interest in getting this very important component – i.e., the hair – correct as men were just as interested in the styles of the day as many are today. Indeed, as a rule, men’s hairstyles throughout Europe during this time were generally long, and oftentimes, very long.

    From the 1500s through the late 1700s, common soldiers did not wear wigs and officers would only begin to wear wigs as noted below:

    * 1500s to about 1621: No wigs are worn and their natural hair is either short or shoulder length and natural in color.

    * 1621 – about 1690: Hair for both officers and soldiers is worn long, below the shoulder, natural in color and parted in the middle (known then as the Nazarene style)

    * After 1690, officers will begin to wear wigs – white wigs or hair with big curls (4 on both sides of the head) started to being used, as a norm, in Spain in the mid-1700s although some nobles and other high ranking officers may have started wearing them a bit earlier. Common soldiers will continue to wear their natural hair long, parted in the middle and after about 1700 or so, tied in what is now known as a low pony tail.

    Not having any hair on top myself – I’m bald – and wanting to be period correct, I decided to try wearing a wig and discovered this whole new world of women’s wigs that offered me this opportunity. I would also like to thank the truly astounding staff at Cysterwigs for assisting me in this journey. Specifically, I find that JR’s Mila and Gwyneth works best for the 1500s; Gabor’s Runway Waves and JR’s Blake (cut like Runway Waves) for the 1600s and JR’s Sarah and Blake (also cut like Runway Waves) for the 1700s. Given that firing muskets wearing synthetic hair is dangerous, I wear HH wigs when I’m using gunpowder and synthetic when not.

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