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Most people, when they hear the word wigs, think of middle-aged balding men who think loss of hair equates to loss of respect. In fact, the truth couldn’t be more different. Wigs, or to give them their full name Periwigs, were first used by the Ancient Egyptians as a way to protect their bare heads from the blazing sun, and other practical uses continued right up into the 17th century. After that, wigs took on a more artificial role, and became an almost obligatory status symbol for well-to-do men in many western countries. Nowadays, wigs are mostly associated with judges and lawyers, who still maintain the rather pretentious style adopted in the late 18th century. The most famous wig-wearers of all are perhaps Queen Elizabeth I, who wore a wig of red hair in the Roman fashion for most of her life; and King Louis XIV of France, who was famous for his long, powdered locks.

Women have never formally worn wigs, but in the 1700s they wore something similar to what we would call hair extensions. Hairstyles at the time were so big and overblown that a lot of hair was required, though this made the styles very heavy and rather awkward to wear.

Thankfully, modern hair extensions and wigs are much more practical. Everyday uses for wigs have declined, as more men learn to embrace their receding hairlines; yet on the other hand, the demand for hair extensions has never been so high.

Of course, please consult your hairdresser before purchasing or attaching any hair extensions or wigs, as only they will be able to give individual advice based on your hair’s needs.

WIGS: Wigs are traditionally made from either real human hair (usually bought from a live source), horse hair or synthetic, and come in as wide a variety of colours as the natural world provides. They vary in length, size and style and are usually made to individual requirements. Good wigs tend to be handmade and for this reason are generally quite expensive; however, a well-made wig can last a lifetime (although it will need a few washes in that time).

Wigs produced for more light-hearted affairs, such as for fancy dress and notable occasions like Halloween, are always synthetic and come in more unnatural colours like green, orange and blue. Some are made from glittery strands of plastic and come with a small net hat which holds natural hair out of the way whilst the wig is being worn.

HAIR EXTENSIONS: Like wigs, hair extensions are made from human or synthetic hair according to requirements and budget. Most hair extensions can be purchased through your local hairdresser, who will also have to attach them for you. Extensions are usually attached using one of three methods: braiding, where the new hair is plaited into the existing hair; bonding, which uses a special type of glue to attach the new hair to a strand of natural hair; and clips, which are by far the easiest to both put in and remove, and are ideal for one-off events.

Hair extensions are a relatively cheap and efficient way to achieve a hairstyle which you might not have thought possible before - although you ought to think long and hard about whether the style you want will really suit you. Hair extensions aren’t anywhere near in the league of wigs, but a full head will still set you back around £60-80.

Hair extensions are also a fun accessory when they create a token strand of complementary colour. Blonde hair can be livened up with a streak of blue or pink, whereas darker hair suits reddish or purplish strands. However, the colour you choose is entirely up to you, and the great thing is that hair extensions don’t require any dye, so your hair stays in great condition. Coloured extensions usually come as clip-ins, which makes them ideal for one-off or special events, although you will still need your hairdresser to put them in.