The History Behind Wigs and Hair Pieces

Hair systems have been around for thousands of years and originated in Egypt1. Egyptian women used wigs to shield themselves from the intense heat of the sun1. Since then, wigs have been used frequently throughout history. By the 16th century, wigs debuted as a method for concealing hair loss1. Today, however we are not just limited to wigs. We have amazing hair systems available that provide an even better solution to hair loss. Is hair loss a big deal? Approximately 22% of over 1,500 men surveyed on hair loss replied that it impacted their social life and 21% reported feelings of depression2.

It is cosmetically imperative that hair systems look like natural hair. By using high quality hair systems, the common complaint that “wigs look wiggy” can be eliminated3. What makes up a hair system? Hair is obviously a major part of the equation but the foundation is also another key part.  Depending on the style, the foundation could be a net or made from other breathable material1. There are a few main types of hair that can be included in hair systems; human hair fibers, synthetic hair and high heat synthetic fibers.

There are quite a few benefits to synthetic hair systems. Synthetic hair is generally less expensive and can be purchased at a retail store1. This type of hair does well in the sun; unlike real hair that can undergo bleaching when exposed to sunlight4. However synthetic hair systems can be ‘one size fits all’, which really means it really won’t fit everyone perfectly1. This type of hair can be ‘unnatural’ looking but does have a long life span. 1 Be careful not to use your blow drier with this type of hair since heat can melt them1.

Human hair can also be used in the creation of hair systems. Using this type of hair system can allow the hair to be colored to match your natural hair color1. Traditional styling, like blow driers, can be used to style this type of hair. The main issue with this type of hair system is that it requires a donor to give up their lovely locks. Virgin hair is the most desired type of donated hair. This is hair that hasn’t been previously colored or processed and is cut from one donor.

High heat synthetic fibers can also be used as well. These fibers can be flat ironed and even curled using heat. High heat synthetic fibers are as soft as human hair with color that doesn’t fade. However, this type of hair does cost as much or even more than human hair and must be specially ordered by a trained professional. Caution should also be given as this type of hair is only able to withstand heat up to a certain temperature.

There are lots of options out there but don’t feel overwhelmed. Come in and talk with us for advise on hair systems that will best fit your needs.

Article by: Sarah Versteeg MSc, Mediprobe Research Inc. 

  1. Banka N, Bunagan MJK, Dubrule Y, Shapiro J. Wigs and hairpieces: evaluating dermatologic issues. Dermatol Ther. 2012 Jun;25(3):260–6.
  2. Alfonso M, Richter-Appelt H, Tosti A, Viera MS, García M. The psychosocial impact of hair loss among men: a multinational European study. Curr Med Res Opin. 2005 Nov;21(11):1829–36.
  3. Wiggins S, Moore-Millar K, Thomson A. Can you pull it off? Appearance modifying behaviours adopted by wig users with alopecia in social interactions. Body Image. 2014 Mar;11(2):156–66.
  4. Nogueira ACS, Nakano AK, Joekes I. Impairment of hair mechanical properties by sun exposure and bleaching treatments. J Cosmet Sci. 2004 Dec;55(6):533–7.