Hair has always been the physical ornament of the human being and something that people attach great importance to. She often had a symbolic and mystical meaning. Long, thick hair represented health and strength. Everyone knows the bible story of Samson whose strength lay in his hair. When Dalila cut his curls, he was left without power. Julius Caesar shaved his war prisoners’ heads because he wanted to humiliate them. Given its importance in the life of every human being, it is no surprise that the fight against hair loss is as long as humanity’s. As such, the history of wigs goes way back in time.
Losing one’s own hair was not the only reason the wigs were created. These wigs were used for fashion, practicality and cultural and religious rituals. Ancient Egyptians were involved in making wigs as they shaved their heads for cleanliness and high heat. They needed a replacement for human hair. Wigs were worn in ancient Egypt as sun protection and as a sign of royal status. Other ancient civilizations and cultures knew wigs. The wigs were used by the Assyrians and Hebrews onwards by the Greeks and Romans. Today, it is customary for Orthodox Jews to marry women with their natural hair to wear a wig so that they do not have to wear headscarves.
In the Far East, wigs were not that popular. They were most commonly used in theater, especially in Japan. In Europe, there has been a diminished interest in wigs in the first thousand years of Christianity. Little attention was paid to the appearance. Women almost always wore some headgear as well. With the advent of the Renaissance, customs change. Women pay attention to their hair. Increasingly complex hairstyles are adorned with gemstones and other jewelry. Aside from looks, wigs are beginning to gain in importance for practical reasons. It was easier to maintain scalp hygiene by shaving my head.
The story of wigs begins like many others – with syphilis. By 1580, the epidemic of syphilis had spread so much in Europe that it had not been remembered since the plague.
Without antibiotics, the victims faced fatal consequences: open wounds, severe rash, blindness, dementia and hair loss.
Hair loss at the time was a route for public humiliation. Long hair was a popular status symbol. When his brother contracted syphilis, English politician Samuel Papish wrote in his diary: “If my brother survives, he will not be able to show his head in public, which will be a great shame for me.”
Thus, with the onset of syphilis, wigs experienced a boom. The patients hid a bald head and scalp wigs made of horse, goat and human hair. Unpleasant odors were covered with lavender and orange powder. This is why the term “powdered wigs” was created. Although wigs were worn by many distinguished nobles at the time, wigs were not so popular but a shameful necessity. However, that changes in 1655 when the King of France begins to lose his hair.
King Louis XIV of France was only 17 years old when his hair began to thin out. Concerned that this would damage his reputation, the king hired as many as 48 wigs to save his reputation. King Charles II of England did the same thing when he noticed that his hair was starting to sit down. Everyone wanted to look like two kings, so the style quickly began to spread across the aristocracy as well as the middle class.
Just like today ‘s trends, this trend has led to the price of wigs rising dramatically. The most ordinary wig cost 25 shillings. So much was the weekly wage of the average Londoner. Up to 800 shillings were paid for larger and more complex wigs.
After Louis and Charles the wigs were worn for their convenience.
Wearing wigs at European courts is driving their dominance in society. Queen Elizabeth of England wore a wig. In the 17th century. French King Louis XIII. for the sake of baldness, starts the fashion of wearing a wig in a French court. Long curly wigs become a must-have fashion accessory for all men who have had more significant social status.
The 18th century brings a new trend: powdered wigs to look white or grayish. These wigs were worn exclusively by men. Women used their hairstyles to mimic this look and to comb their natural hair. Later, women wore more elaborate and intricate decorated wigs. The wigs were quite heavy so some of the more creative specimens needed to be supported when worn so they wouldn’t fall off their heads. Until the early 19th century, it was an indispensable part of dressing and editing to go public. The end of such wigs was caused by the French Revolution. Gorgeous hairstyles were tied to decadent nobility. Wigs are slowly losing their social significance. They continue to be worn for the most practical reasons, for baldness or easier hygiene. In some spheres, wearing a wig was for protocol and tradition. This has been the case today, as is the case with the British courts, where they are a mandatory part of the uniform of lawyers and judges.
The British stopped wearing them after the introduction of a dust tax that masked the unpleasant odor, which begins the era of natural hair that continues today.
From the 20th century onwards, wigs have not lost their popularity. They have become an extremely popular way to quickly change your appearance and play with your own image. Not only are people who have experienced natural hair loss wigs, but more and more people who want to have a new haircut without touching their own hair.
The rise in popularity of wigs certainly owes to the advancement in production for the sake of becoming widespread. While in the past they were made from human hair or animal hair (from a ponytail, for example), nowadays artificial materials have also been incorporated. Thus, we have numerous models of synthetic hair wigs (with no restrictions on color and shape) and hair structure. The popularity of wigs is global. Whether it is England, Croatia or Japan, wearing wigs has become a worldwide accepted trend. Affordable prices and high quality models are making more and more women and men buy wigs. Someone is deciding for health reasons or they simply want to bring a touch of change into their everyday appearance.
Origin of Hair for Wigs
Wigs, hair insert and extensions. These are the names for different variants of human hair. Rare people pay attention to origins. A simple internet search will take you to stores that speak of “high quality” or “luxury” natural hair wigs. They cost several thousand euros. The descriptions talk about luxury hair from Brazil or beautiful braids from Europe. Rarely will anyone say that Chinese hair is beautiful. The Made in China sign has become a widely recognized symbol of poor and cheap consumer goods. Emma Tarlo says China has occupied the world market with human hair. She even spent three years researching the origin of hair sold in Western European stores. An anthropology professor, author of a book on the origin of hair, Tarlo says: “People employed in the industry are aware that Chinese origins have negative connotations and therefore advertise them in every way possible.”
There is information on the internet that hair from China is the roughest, that Filipino hair is quite similar with a lot more shine, that Brazilian hair is full of volume. The definitions of hair in wigs are incredibly fluid and vague. “The more you try to systematize them, the harder it becomes. European hair is very expensive because of its variety of colors and fine texture,” Tarlo told the BBC. Most European hair comes from the east of our continent (from Russia, Romania or Ukraine).
Most wanted is “virgin hairThis is hair that has never been chemically treated. Behind her is “remy hair,” which was taken directly from the donor’s head. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is “standard hair” which is a marketable name for comb waste. “Chinese factories often call the comb waste ‘standard hair’ because a lot of hair comes from such sources,” says Tarlo. As for marketing, Tarlo says the biggest responsibility lies with the people in the hair production and sales chain. However, end customers do not mind. “People don’t want to think about previous hair owners. There is still this disgusting factor that accompanies buying and using someone else’s body parts,” Tarlo says.
On the foundations of comb waste, a whole industry has emerged to unravel, sort and chemically treat hair. While the finished product most often passes through China, it probably originated from hair originating in various Asian countries. “Across Asia, women with long hair preserve their hair that remains on their combs or after washing their hair. They will keep it for years and then sell it to door-to-door redemptioners,” Tarlo says.
She showed BBC reporters a bag of hair she had been collecting for three years. He says it’s worth about a dollar.
This hair needs to be gathered in one place. Then the dealers resell it until it ends in a crucifix in Bangladesh, India or even Myanmar. Tarlo recounts that she visited workshops and homes in Myanmar and India where dozens of women sat on the floor and untangled someone else’s hair. Tarlo describes the scene: “It’s hard work. It takes about 80 hours to untangle pounds and a half of human hair.” Then it is necessary to chemically treat the hair. The outer layer of human hair has scales that face in the same direction, much like fish scales. The comb waste is tangled because these shells are differently oriented. The Chinese insert such hair into chemicals, which destroys the outer layer of hair and removes the scales. Such hair is of a slightly inferior quality, but by the end of the process it regains its luster and can look fantastic.
Humanitarian action to collect hair for diseased children
We invite you to be a part of the My Hair Your Hair project and weave a part of yourself into the wigs we make (completely free) for toddlers who have temporarily or permanently lost their hair. The public haircut and hair donation action will take place on 11/17/2019. from 11 am to 5 pm at the Sarajevo City Center (SCC).
The most important thing you need to know is that your hair should be completely natural, nothing treated. The donated section of hair should be at least 30 cm long. Let’s be humane, because inches of your hair are crucial for miles of safe baby steps.