Why Did Englishmen Wear Wigs and Makeup?

Have you ever wondered why Englishmen from long ago wore wigs and makeup? It might seem strange today, but back then, it was actually very popular and fashionable!

This article will explain the reasons behind this trend and help you understand why it was such a big deal.

Let’s explore the world of wigs and makeup in English history!

The Rise of Wigs and Makeup

The 17th century was a time when wigs and makeup became very popular in England. This was because of a few reasons. First, people wanted to show off their wealth and status.

Wearing a fancy wig or having fancy makeup made people look important and successful. Also, the wigs and makeup helped to cover up any problems with their hair or skin.

King Louis XIV’s Influence

One of the reasons why wigs and makeup became popular in England was because of King Louis XIV of France.

He was a very powerful and fashionable king who loved wearing wigs and makeup. When people in England saw how fancy he looked, they wanted to copy his style.

This is called influence, when someone’s ideas or actions affect others. King Louis XIV’s love for wigs and makeup spread across Europe, including England.

Reasons for Wearing Wigs

To Show Wealth and Status

One of the main reasons why Englishmen wore wigs was to show off their wealth and status. The fancier the wig, the more money and power someone had.

Wigs were made from real human hair or animal hair, which was very expensive. This meant that only rich people could afford to wear them.

To Cover Baldness

Another reason why Englishmen wore wigs was to cover up baldness. Many people in the 17th century lost their hair because of diseases, poor diets, or just getting older.

Wearing a wig made them feel more confident and attractive. They did not want others to know they were bald, so they wore wigs to hide it.

Cleanliness and Hygiene

In the past, people did not wash their hair as often as we do today. They believed that washing their hair too often would make it fall out.

Wearing a wig helped to keep their hair clean because they could remove the wig and clean it separately. This also made it easier to get rid of lice, which was a common problem back then.

Reasons for Wearing Makeup

  1. To Look Younger and Healthier

Englishmen wore makeup to look younger and healthier. In the 17th century, people believed that pale skin was a sign of youth and beauty.

They used white makeup made from lead to make their skin look lighter. However, this was very dangerous because lead is poisonous and can make people sick.

They also used red makeup on their cheeks and lips to make them look rosy and full of life.

  1. To Cover Up Skin Problems

Another reason why Englishmen wore makeup was to cover up skin problems, like scars or blemishes. In the 17th century, many people had skin issues because of diseases or poor living conditions. Makeup helped them to hide these problems and feel more confident.

  1. To Show Wealth and Status

Just like wigs, makeup was also a way to show wealth and status. The more makeup someone wore, the richer they appeared. Makeup was expensive, so only wealthy people could afford to wear it.

The Decline of Wigs and Makeup

As time went on, people started to realize that wearing wigs and makeup was not always the best idea. They learned about the dangers of lead makeup and the health problems it could cause.

Also, people began to value a more natural look and wanted to show off their real hair and skin. This led to a decline in the popularity of wigs and makeup.

  1. Health Concerns

One of the reasons why wigs and makeup became less popular was because of the health concerns. As mentioned earlier, the white makeup that people used to make their skin look lighter was made from lead.

When people learned about the dangers of lead poisoning, they stopped using this makeup. Wigs were also uncomfortable and could cause scalp problems, like itching and infections.

  1. Changing Fashion Trends

Fashion trends change over time, and this was true for wigs and makeup as well. As people started to value a more natural look, they stopped wearing wigs and heavy makeup.

Instead, they began to focus on taking better care of their hair and skin, which meant washing it more often and using safer makeup products.

  1. The French Revolution

The French Revolution, which took place in the late 18th century, also played a role in the decline of wigs and makeup.

During this time, people in France were fighting for more equality and wanted to get rid of the old-fashioned ideas about wealth and status.

This meant that they stopped wearing wigs and makeup because they saw them as symbols of the old, unequal society.


Now you know why Englishmen wore wigs and makeup in the past! It was a way for them to show their wealth and status, cover up hair loss or skin problems, and keep up with the latest fashion trends.

However, as people became more aware of the health risks and changing fashion trends, the popularity of wigs and makeup declined.

Today, we have many safer and more natural ways to take care of our hair and skin, so we don’t need to wear wigs and heavy makeup like they did in the past.

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