It is safe to say that hair extensions are anything BUT a new trend! For over 2000 years, women (and men) have been interested in using extensions to add length and volume to their locks.
With a look at how extensions have evolved, we’ve brought you a little snapshot of some of the most iconic hair extension moments throughout history...
It only seemed fitting to start with the ultimate hair icon herself, Cleopatra!
Did you know that this Queen used hair extensions to create that illustrious black mane that we all know so well?
For Cleopatra, hair was an essential part of her beauty, even to the point where she would use extensions to create different hairstyles to elevate her power and status.
The Ancient Egyptians also loved wearing coloured hair extensions in red and gold – as well as Cleopatra’s favourite, peacock blue. Their extensions were made from human hair, sheep's, wool, and palm leaf fibres glued to their hair using wax from plants, trees, and bees.
It is seriously NO surprise that even 2000 years later, we are still looking to Cleopatra for fashion inspo. Sleek glossy hair still represents the peak of glamour and fashion. We’ve seen this channelled through the “Cleopatra cut” found on celebs like Madonna and Katy Perry.
Fast forward to the 16th century, where we have another real hair extension Queen, Queen Elizabeth I.
As a major trendsetter of her time, Queen Elizabeth’s striking curly red hair left both women and men finding ways to dye their locks to match.
Although hair dye was not easy to come by. Before long, red hairpieces became ALL the rage! These hairpieces were sourced from a combination of horse, goat, and human hair!
During the mid-1600s, it was no secret that France’s King Louis XIII had ordered a custom-made hairpiece to cover up his baldness.
Who knew King Louis XIII was so fashion-forward?! This led to wigs and hairpieces becoming a symbol of prestige for not ONLY women but also men!
These pieces became more and more elaborate... even strung with beads and pearls for high society events.
While horse and goat hair was common, the more expensive wigs came from human hair. Since these wigs could cost a pretty penny, women could earn up to a week’s wage for cutting and selling their hair!
Massive hairstyles were on the rise during the Victorian era, and the word postiche, meaning “added hair”, was a part of everyone’s vocab!
To create these postiches, hairdressers would take stay hairs from combings and draw them through a hackle (a flat board with metal teeth) as a way to straighten the hair. The hair was then sorted into bundles ready to be curled using curlers made of wood or clay. Once the hair was tightly wound around the curler, the hair would be placed into a mixture of water and soda, then boiled for several hours and unwound once dried!
The late 1800s also saw the emergence of “modern” clip-in hair extensions called “switches”. This piece most commonly came as a ponytail with a loop at the top for easy fastening. With a “switch”, the hairstyle options were endless... women could twist, braid, curl, or lift hair into a bun!
Up until the early 20th century, hair extensions were almost exclusively worn by royalty and the upper classes.
It was only when the popularity of hats and hairpins rose that this presented the opportunity for ANY woman, from any background, to give big hair a try for the very FIRST time.
Designed to create volume, hats and hairpins would lift the curls to create the perfect illusion of thicker and fuller hair.
It wasn’t uncommon to also see women taking matters into their own hands! Collecting their own stray hairs from their hairbrushes and using that hair along with hairpins to either add volume and texture to up-dos or increase height to their hats!
On to the Swinging Sixties – a pivotal moment for fashion on all fronts!
At this time, we saw the rise of the “beehive-style” – hairpieces and extensions were used to create the fullness and volume of this style. Think of major trendsetters like Jackie Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot, or Jane Fonda.
A few decades later, even Amy Winehouse modelled her "beehive" look after these icons!
The '60s also saw the rise of synthetic hair as a way to make wigs, hairpieces, and extensions more affordable.
There are many words to describe the '80s, but the one word that sums it all up... BIG! An era where everyone followed the motto “bigger is better”.
We can credit '80s rockers in, well, “Hair Bands” for bringing big hair to popularity once again.
With the rise of perms, mullets, and hair accessories of all types, a full head of synthetic extensions was almost a necessity to achieve these voluminous styles... paired with their industrial-strength hairsprays, of course!
At this time, celebrity punk hairstylist, Simon Forbes, introduced “monofiber” extensions to the world. He used his self-designed heat tool called C2, which sealed the monofiber to the real hair using wax (a tactic that eliminated the damage that came from using glue).
Into the '90s, hair extensions were fully integrated into the mainstream!
Synthetic hair extensions dominated the market – they were available almost everywhere to women and men with any hair type, colour, and price.
This decade saw the rise of the coloured clip-ins (throwback to a ’90s Christina Aguilera), making it easy to be more experimental with bright, bold colours.
Although, wearers grew tired of the fact that their synthetic extensions did not last long, quickly fraying and separating at the tips. Wearers began pushing for better quality and more sustainable hair extension options, wanting a more elevated look.
Hair extensions have seriously come a long way within the last two thousand years!
Today, our hair extensions are crafted using the highest quality Remy human hair, paired with the most advanced processing techniques. And we also have highly trained stylists who are here to bring all your hair extension dreams to life!
At Philocaly Hair, we have managed to find the perfect balance between luxurious human hair extensions at affordable prices for ALL of our queens (and kings) out there!