It is clear from both the archaeological remains and the artistic and literary record that the Egyptians’ hair was not always their own, a choice dependent on personal preference, wealth and social status and influenced by the fashions which inevitably changed over several millennia. The wigs and hair extensions worn as items of both daily and funerary attire combined the desire for ornate and impressive styles with the practicalities of cleanliness. In Egypt’s extreme climate, the coolest option of a shaven or cropped head could be shielded from the harmful effects of the sun with a wig, a choice preferable to a simple linen head cloth as it would allow body heat to escape through its net-like foundation base while keeping the head protected. The removal of the natural hair and subsequent adoption of wigs was also a hygienic measure and greatly reduced the healthrisks associated with parasitic infestation, particularly head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis).
Mummy wigs, are just a part of the cosmetic adornment found on Egyptian mummified remains, used by men and women and changing in style in the various historical eras. The cosmetic preparations that were part of the final stages of embalming included the application of gold leaf, the painting of the face, and the restoration of the eyebrows. Wigs were placed on some corpses, and they were dressed in their robes of state and given their emblems of divine kingship. In some periods the bodies were painted, the priests using red ochre for male corpses and yellow for the women.