Mar 07 , 2017
Hair extensions today are ubiquitous. The use of hair extensions is so prevalent, in fact, that their attachment and maintenance could almost be considered a ritual in today’s culture. As technology and the hair extension marketplace have become more complex, the diversity and availability of hair extensions has never been greater than today. This rapid development in the hair extension industry of both common and luxury hair extensions may cause one to think that hair extensions are a relatively recent development. In fact, human beings have been trying to add length and volume and otherwise alter their hair for thousands of years. Here is a brief look at some major moments in hair extension history. Ancient Egyptians The first documented use of hair extensions took place all the way back in Ancient Egypt, circa 3400 BC—over 5,000 years ago! Not only did they use hair extensions, they actually had a variety of extension options to choose from. They placed and fixed wigs to their head and also used sewn-on hair pieces and braids. The extensions were made from a variety of materials, including human hair and dyed sheep’s wool. Materials like resin and beeswax were used to attach the extensions. Anyone who has seen Egyptians hieroglyphs can probably guess that these wigs and extensions were frequently colored with a deep black color. In addition to black, Ancient Egyptians also wore colored extensions in bright blue, red and gold, proving that the current trend toward brightly-colored hair is far from a new phenomenon. Hair extensions in Egypt regained popularity during the time of Cleopatra, whose favorite colored extension was famously peacock blue. Throughout the history of Egypt, different hair extensions and braids used different colors, knots and twists to indicate the age, religion or social status of the wearer. Africa The roots of hair extensions began in Egypt yet also spread throughout other parts of Africa. For centuries, traditional African hair-braiding techniques have included extensions of some form, all across the massive continent. These styles are significant culturally, spiritually and aesthetically for many regions of Africa. Hairstyles including extensions are distinct to regions of Africa. For example, the Mbalantu of Wambo group of Namibia have worn their hair with braids reaching their ankles with the use of sinew extensions. This noticeable style is recognizable and all who see it identify the refined technique. Many African hair extensions are adorned with cowrie shells, feathers and other natural accessories. Europe And America Hair extensions also enjoy a long and intricate history in European and American culture. Anyone who has seen portraits of European kings or America’s founding fathers knows that powdered wigs were used prevalently during this time. They were an indicator of wealth and status, and many kings wore powdered wigs and extensions to project power and health, especially if they began to go bald. Women also wore them, and the portraits of noblewomen in the 1700s frequently include women with large, beehive shaped weaves. They would even incorporate horse hair and frames into their weaves to help them achieve this substantial look. The horse hair and wool-filled frames were woven into their natural hair, and then more extensions were woven over the frames. Today There were also unique styles and social functions of hair extensions in the Romantic area and the early 20th century. The trend has continued to evolve and will certainly continue to evolve in the future as circumstances and aesthetic tastes continue to change. It is amazing to think that hair extensions have been used throughout most of recorded history. Hair extensions are truly an outlet for human creativity and an expression of culture throughout history.