You might be forgiven for thinking hair extensions have just arrived on the scene, but you would most certainly be wrong, as they were used back in the days of Cleopatra. The Egyptians used a mixture of human hair and sheep’s wool to create elaborate wigs, and archaeologists have found carcasses with woven hair extensions dating as far back as 3400BC.
At around 500BC, the Egyptians began to braid their hair, and the style of braid was indicative of age, religion, and social status. The poor people used grass and other natural materials to extend the length of their hair. This practice wasn’t exclusive to the women, with Egyptian men wearing full wigs, to keep them warm in the cold desert nights, and to provide protection against the endless stream of flies in the blistering day.
17th Century Europe
The French were all about grandeur and pomp and ceremony, with white curly wigs being most fashionable. These were called perukes, and it very much defined you socially, with more and more elegant styles appearing as the years went by.
Hair extensions remained dormant due to the simplistic lifestyles of post renaissance times, and surfaced again in the 1940’s when long hair became fashionable. Hordes of Hollywood starlets began to wear extensions, driven by the current craze, and this led to the development of new techniques to attach the extension to the regular hair.
The Swinging Sixties
The beehive style of the sixties fuelled the demand for hair extensions, and the 70’s saw the long haired hippy look, which also required extensions. In the mid 1980’s a hairdresser named Simon Forbes attached extensions using melted wax, and this began a craze in the west that saw hair extensions firmly established in female fashion.
Modern hair extensions mainly use human hair, as this is as natural as one can get, yet the methods of attachment are far advanced from the days of beeswax and plant resin, and with a range of colours and lengths, the modern woman can have that long hair look overnight. All the top salons around the world offer hair extensions, and if the treatment is carried out properly, you can expect to maintain that look for up to 3 months.
The arrival of clip-on hair extensions gave the fashion conscious female a new dimension in hair design. The decision to go long was no longer such a big deal, and you could revert back to that bob in the morning. Some women have several sets with different colour highlights and length, for a real mix and match palette. One could literally create a different look on a daily basis, such are the possibilities.
The trend for hair extensions is certainly not a fad, and it looks like they have earned a permanent spot in the fashion archives, as the timeless attraction of long hair continues to weave its magic. If you suddenly get the urge to go long, your local salon will no doubt be able to transform your look with human hair extensions.