Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Alexa. Alexa Wonders, “How are wigs made?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Alexa!
Do you have a favorite hairstyle? Maybe you like to braid or wave your hair. Perhaps you curl it or use a relaxer. Many people love the texture and style their hair has naturally. To try a new style or color, you might even wear a wig!
The earliest wigs date back thousands of years. Some experts say evidence may suggest the earliest wigs were made up to 100,000 years ago. It’s certain, though, that they were worn by the ancient Egyptians. They often shaved off their natural hair to stay cool in the hot climate and wore wigs to protect their heads from the Sun.
The headpieces were also popular in ancient Greece and Rome. They were often used for theater, but people also wore them as fashion pieces. Much later, wigs became widespread throughout western Europe, especially among royalty and nobility. Monarchs and government officials often wore them to cover baldness.
Today, people use wigs for many purposes. Some opt to wear a wig when they become bald due to natural causes or following illness or injury. Others wear wigs as fashion or to portray characters on TV or in movies. Many wigs today look just like natural hair. Have you ever WONDERed how wig makers do it?
You may have seen wigs in a Halloween or costume shop before. Most of these were made by machines. They’re one-size-fits-all and made from synthetic hair. These wigs work well for costumes and other basic needs. However, people who wear wigs regularly will likely tell you that custom-made headpieces made from human hair are better in quality.
Custom-made wigs are made by hand. Wig makers use real human hair that’s donated or sold to them. Their first step is to make a bust of the head of the person the wig is for. This helps them make sure the wig will fit well and match the person’s natural hairline.
Once the bust has been made, the wig maker can make a foundation for the wig. Then, they choose the hair that will be used. Before making the wig, they have to sort the hairs to make sure they are all facing the same direction. Then, wig makers bind the hairs together and use a hackle to remove very short hairs.
Once the hair has been hackled, it’s cut, washed, and disinfected. It may also be permanently curled or waved. Finally, it can be attached to the foundation. This is done through a process called knotting. A wig maker uses a needle to attach the hair to the foundation. In total, they’ll make about 30,000-40,000 knots for one full wig.
As you can imagine, the entire process of making a wig can take a long time. Some wigs may be made in as little as one or two months. Others may take up to six months. However, many would argue that custom-made wigs are worth the wait! A well-cared for wig can last several years.
Have you ever seen a wig you thought was beautiful or unique? Maybe you’ve even had the chance to wear one! Whether it’s for costume or for fashion, putting on a wig can be a fun experience.
Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3