October 7, 2021

Who Invented Wigs?

who invented wigs

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Although the oldest wigs could be found in ancient Egypt, Louis XIII should be considered as the man who invented modern wigs. In the 17 century, syphilis broke out in Europe, and because antibodies had not yet been discovered, many symptoms were untreatable, including patchy hair loss.

Rumors had it Louis XIII from France want to hide his permanent hair loss by wearing wigs, so to cover the fact that he was suffering from syphilis.

I am Lori, and I love wigs and history. Since I fell in love with these beautiful hair products, I want to dig out all the related history. I have spent 31 hours researching for all the information before drafting this article.

In this article, we will talk about who invented wigs, the related history, and backgrounds.

Development of Wigs

The oldest wigs were invented by ancient Egyptians. They shaved their heads because of 2 reasons. It is more comfortable if they have bald heads in the hot, dry, sunny desert weather. Secondly, they can avoid being infected by lice, which could be a big problem.

However, bald heads do not look pretty, so they invented wigs. All the ancient Egyptians were wearing wigs, no matter they were male or female. However, depending on their social status, the material used to make the wigs would be different.

The upper classes of Ancient Egyptians could afford to wear human hair, wool, plants fibers, or even silver wigs. Other than a prettier appearance, wigs also protect their bald heads against the sun.

If you want to tell the social status of an ancient Egyptian, simply look at their wigs. The prettier and more sophisticated the wig was, the higher social states a person should have.

Because the wigs used by ancient Egyptians were made of more long-lasting material, such as gold and silver, it’s easier for us to trace back the history. Ancient Greece and Romans also make use of wigs. However, their wigs are usually made with hair from slaves. And because of the relatively humid climate, there are not many ancient roman wig examples left.

Wigs were also widely used in other ancient civilizations such as Greeks, Assyrians, and Phoenicians.

In the ancient time, far east civilizations, such as China and Japan, they used wigs as well. However, most of the people using wigs were with lower social status, such as actors, or female entertainers such as Geisha were wearing wigs for their performance.

Ancient Chinese people believe that their skins and hairs were given by their parents and it is a duty to keep them in good shape, so only criminals would be forced to shave their heads just to humiliate them.

In ancient China, wigs were mainly used in females, especially nobles, as decorations.

We can find a lot of evidence about ancient civilizations using wigs. However, it is very difficult to determine who invented wigs because there was not much-written record left. 

Louis XIII Invented Modern Wigs

However, when it comes to modern wigs, Louis XIII should be considered as the guy who invented wigs.

Long hair was preferred by men in 1500, at the same time, syphilis also broke out in Europe. One of the untreatable symptoms was hair loss.

Men with high social status were worried that people may believe they were suffering from syphilis and were trying to cover their baldness.

At the same time, men in 1500 also suffered from the problem of hair lice. Just like ancient Egyptians, wearing wigs could protect them against such problems.

Louis XIII suffered from permanent hair loss, which is very likely a symptom showing he was suffering from syphilis. To protect his social status and to keep his good look, he ordered 40+ wig makers to make many wigs.

By 1673, the first independent wigmaker’s guide was created. Other than Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Charles II from England started wearing powdered wigs. Since then, wigs have become a must for upper-class nobles in Europe.

Powdered wigs were out during French Revolution because the rich or upper classes did not want to be related to anything royals or nobles. Since then, natural hair has become the trend of fashion.

People also started wearing wigs because wigs can improve their looks by covering hair loss, or simply it’s easier to try out different hair style.

Wrapping Up

Ancient Egyptians invented headpieces like wigs. However, I believe that King Louis XIII should be considered as the one who invented modern wigs.

What about you? Do you agree with me? Leave a comment below and I would love to hear your thoughts!


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