Story of Us, 1910-1920: Faking It

Hair extensions may be one of the easiest ways to change up a look today, but their popularity began more than a century ago.

The demand for false hair pieces reached its zenith in the 1910s with wigs, switches, front pieces, toupees, puffs and hair rolls among the options for achieving the right look. False frizzettes, false switches, false fringes and plaits enabled a wide range of coiffure styling. Women also used extra curls and small wave pieces to fill in the gaps in their hairstyles. Pads and frames of false hair helped the hairstyle of this era appear full and soft as did personal hair combings (collected from the hairbrush by a woman or by her maid), which were added when extra matching hair was needed to get just the right effect. 

During the decade, hairdressers did brisk business supplying postiches, or pre-made small wiglets, curls and false buns to be incorporated into the hairstyle. Even as women's hair grew shorter in the period between 1910 and 1920, the use of postiches did not diminish. From coast to coast, the hair trade was booming, and the importation and manufacturing of human hair goods was big business. Different types of prepared hair in all colors and textures were made available, but those made of  “Asiatic White Hair” and “Syrian Hair” were considered preferable to bleached white or natural white human hair. Today, of course, there are a range of natural-looking synthetic options on the market, a reality that beauty pros more than a century ago could not have imagined.

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