the amazing history of wigs then and now

The Amazing History of Wigs: Wigs Then And Now

Where & When Did Wigs Become so Popular?

Wigs, wigs wig! Within the past few years, wigs seem to be all the hype. With high-profile celebrities like Beyonce and Kylie Jenner rocking wigs shamelessly, wigs have gained much popularity. Wigs have developed substantially over the years. Lace fronts, 360 Frontals, and Full Lace wigs allow you to switch it up while looking natural and beautiful.

Wigs aren’t anything new, so I started wondering what wigs were like back in the day. How were iconic women like Tina Turner slaying wigs in the 50s and 60s? I pulled out my Wigology Textbook (Google) and did some research. Here’s what I came up with:

In The Beginning

Let’s rewind to BC days. Egyptians made the earliest known wigs with human hair, palm leaf fibers, or even wool. These wigs signified rank, statues, religious piety, and also protected their heads from the sun and bugs. Over in Europe, women typically used their hair as a foundation for headdresses.

It wasn’t until the end of the 15th century that hairstyles became more intricate, including false hair pieces. Hair was even powdered and gummed, but a full head wig wasn’t very popular. Perruque, peruke, periwyk, periwig, were the olden terms for the wig.


European Wigs

At this point, wigmakers make wigs by hand which is very expensive. Wigs were a big part of the then modern culture for women and men. Typically, used to express fashion sense in the seventeenth century. Wigs were so popular that those that weren’t able to afford a wig would style their natural hair in a way to make it look as wig-like as possible.

In the mid-eighteenth century, white was all the rave in wigs. At the time, wig makers greased and powdered wigs with flour or starch to create the white color. Elaborated with jewels and trinkets these wigs were quite fancy.

olden days wig


Fast forward to the 20th century; wigs were out of style by the 1920s. The bob hairstyle became very popular, and women preferred wearing their natural hair. Older women were still holding on to their wigs, but the younger generation progressed on to other hairstyling practices. It wasn’t until the 1950s that wigs made a comeback.

1920s wig

Wigs In The Black Community

Wigs became a favorite style in the African-American community because they enable African-American women to style their hair without the trouble of heat-styling. Chemical relaxers and heat-styling were the only ways to straighten kinky-curly hair at the time, and the process was often long and painful.

Straight wigs allow African-American women to achieve different styles with ease and also conform to Eurocentric beauty standards. White women continue to wear wigs during this period for convenience.


Wigs In The Music Industry

In the 70s, iconic entertainers such as Tina Turner and Diana Ross wore beautiful wigs during every show. Check them out!

diana ross afro wig

This beautiful bob style with bangs complimented Ms. Turner’s features perfectly. Bobs were a popular style in the 70s.

tina turner bang wig

This wig is also very natural looking, with the bangs cut perfectly.

tina turner

Tina Turner rocked this long silky wig before she introduced us to her big, blonde wig.

tina turner

Fun fact: Tina Turner made all of her wigs by hand and you can make a wig too!

tina turner wig

Look at the beautiful Diana Ross in this sizeable elaborate wig, adorned with flowers and highlights!

diana ross wig flowers

Diana Ross is rocking a gorgeous short bob wig, showing off her beautiful facial structure.

diana ross wig

Wigs fell out of fashion once again in the 90s as the rise of pixie cuts and braids became popular. African American women experimented with many cuts and color in the 90s, often wearing their hair straight.

Modern Day Wigs

Wigs resurfaced and became more popular than ever in the mid-2000s with the popularity of the lace front wig. The lace front wig introduced a natural looking alternative to the traditional wig and allowed women to switch up hairstyles without looking unnatural.

Zendaya is a celebrity who is known for wig switch ups. She goes between long, short, curly , straight hairstyles and even switches up her color. These are some of my favorite wig looks from Zendaya Coleman.

Zendaya looks beautiful in these big sexy curls!


Zendaya had her fans in shock with this pixie cut wig! Many thought she cut her natural hair because she rocks this wig so naturally!

zendaya short hair

The short look is one of my favorite wig looks from Zendaya. The bob and the bangs remind me of legend Tina Turner, with a sleek, sophisticated finish.


Modern Day Wigs

Modern wigs are much more natural and versatile compared to earlier European wigs. Most wigmakers reside in Asia and create and weft wigs with a machine. However, custom wigs are also very popular in America.

Custom wigs allow a customer to have a stylist create a wig to fit the exact dimensions of the client’s head. Custom and machine weft wigs can also come in various curl patterns.

Lace Frontal Wigs

360 frontal wigs and Full lace wigs are the newest wigs right now. A 360 frontal wig has lace around the entire perimeter of the head, allowing you to pull the hair up into a ponytail and have many more parting options.

lace frontal

Full lace wigs are wigs constructed of lace throughout the entire wig. There are no tracks in this unit at all. This type of wig allows for maximum versatility and unlimited parting.

frontal styled

U- Part Wigs

Another famous modern wig is called the U-Part wig. Wig makes create this type of wig with a horseshoe-shaped gap on the top of the wearer’s hair to lay over the wig. The “u-part” creates a natural look and makes the wearer feel like they’re wearing their hair.

weave with middle part

Wigs have evolved tremendously. No longer are we making wigs with palm leaves and wool, and no longer are we plastering cornstarch on our heads to create white hair. Nowadays, you can feel comfortable wearing a beautiful, natural-looking wig.

Of course, I couldn’t finish off this article without showing off some of mine.


I hope this article gives you some insight on your wig history!

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One thought on “The Amazing History of Wigs: Wigs Then And Now

  1. Qiana S. says:

    Being someone that’s now into wigs but used to think I’d never be the one to wear one, I loved seeing how things have changed over the years and how open people have become when it comes to protective styling via wigs. I definitely think that wigs are here to stay and are not something that’s just trending in the moment

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