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A Brief History Of Hair Extensions

Here at Additional Lengths, we’re interested in all things hair. From what our favourite celebrity is doing with their tresses this week, to the latest social media craze (unicorn hair, anyone?), we love being in the know. If, like us, you’re curious about the story behind hair extensions, then take a look at our brief history of hair extensions to learn more about the origins of our favourite beauty accessory. You may be surprised by the longevity of this popular hair trend!

Style like an Egyptian

Surprisingly, the first documented origin of hair weaves can be dated back to Ancient Egypt. Appearance was very important during this time period and the process of beautification was highly thought of, with a lot of time and money spent on creating the perfect look. Ancient Egyptians observed a hierarchy of status through their appearance, with hair weaves and wigs often being worn by those higher up in society, for example, by Pharaohs, political figures and wealthy families. Not only were wigs worn by women, but also by men and children! Hair pieces at this stage in history were created using human hair and dyed sheep’s wool, and were often attached by sewing into knots of the person’s real hair.

The infamous ruler of Ancient Egypt, the alluring Cleopatra was also a fan of utilising hair braids and wigs to add to her undeniable beauty. She favoured the conventional black dyed hair extensions, preferring a fringe and tightly curled mid-lengths, and would add decadent gold beads to the ends for a touch of glamour. Egyptian wigs were the height of fashion back in B.C times.

Big wig of the century

French King Louis XIV was quite the trend-setter during his reign in the 18th century. When the king became rather thin on top, his tireless team of servants hired a staggering amount of wig-makers to save his majestic appearance by creating a series of large and lengthy wigs. Often seen in royal paintings, men wore big wigs to undoubtedly hide the balding and greying that comes with age, in an attempt to keep their youth. The wig pieces that men wore also acted as a status enhancement. Ever heard of the phrase ‘big wig’? There you go!

 

Character of King Louis XIV in BBC’s ‘Versailles’ displaying a luxurious wig

Hair during the 18th and 19th centuries were often collected from the poor, with women from the working classes growing their hair in order to sell it. Real hair wigs fetched a huge amount in those times – up to a weeks wages!

1960’s beehive

A symbol synonymous with 60’s style is the beehive, which was achieved with fake hair often attached to a hair band. At this time, long hair extensions were not too commonly used as they were deemed rather expensive. Girl bands such as The Ronettes rocked the beehive look perfectly, with soft bangs and high hair teamed with shift dresses becoming their signature look. At Additional Lengths we stock a range of instant beehive hair pieces that can be worn to achieve this same 60’s inspired look!

It was during the 1980’s that hair weaves were favoured by women with Afro textured hair, opting for a hair weave over potentially damaging chemical relaxers, which offered them a new straighter hair finish.

Girl power of the 1990’s

Hair extensions rose in popularity and became used by the masses during the decade of the 1990’s. New and less expensive techniques were developed ensuring widespread popularity, with the clip-in hair extensions becoming commonly used due to their cost and availability. It was also around this time that coloured hair pieces were popular, with pastel blue and baby pink streaks featuring in many young girl’s hair dreams.

Again, during this time celebrities were influencing our hairstyles. Supermodels such as Tyra Banks were seen wearing hair extensions on the international fashion catwalks during the 1990’s, and in early 2000 legendary singer Britney Spears sported some impressive extensions for her ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’ music video.

Noughties to now

With celebs such as the Kardashian sisters rocking different hair looks at every event, we as the general public are also using hair extensions to change up our style. Plus, the development of the quality of hair extensions, including the creation of beautiful Remy hair extensions, means that we’re able to use extensions not only for length, but for volume and to add subtle tones of colour.

It’s interesting to see how the creation of hair extensions has revolutionised the possibilities in hairstyling, and the rich history of hair extensions just proves how long lasting and much loved the process of adding length and volume to natural hair has been over the years. We don’t think that the obsession with hair extensions will slow down anytime soon! If you’re feeling inspired by our look back the origins of extensions, browse our wonderful ranges of synthetic and human hair extensions here at Additional Lengths for high quality products you can rely on.

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