The History of the Toupee: Is That a Squirrel on Your Head, or Are You Happy to See Me?

Posted: 03/09/2018 in Humor
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The toupee was invented in 1592, when bald Prince Combover slid across the floor and injured himself while attempting a headstand. At this crucial turning point in history, men decided (apparently oblivious to many people’s attraction to elongated foreheads) that even bad hair was better than no hair.

The first toupee was made out of pig whiskers. However, this was not only excruciatingly uncomfortable, but had the unfortunate consequence of causing the men who wore these hairpieces to squeal at inopportune moments.

Cat hair was the next material to be attempted, but this was abandoned after the wearers coughed up hairballs on the carpet. After the cat hairpieces lost their popularity, hairmakers graduated to dog hair. Regrettably, not only did the wearers develop a flea problem, but also a disconcerting penchant for fire hydrants.

From dog hair, toupee-makers resorted to synthetic materials such as polyethylene, which they shaped with scissors and fitted onto the scalp. However, this material was quite flammable, and men’s heads frequently ignited when they attempted to light a cigarette.

The next attempt was with polyester fibers similar to those used in carpets, which were also shaped with scissors — hence the term, “cutting a rug.” Dust mites made these hairpieces unbearably itchy, and the rug shampoo used to clean them caused any real hair underneath to turn green and fall out.

Hair artists, as wig makers preferred to be called, then went through several other materials, including dyed plant leaves. Not only did these hairpieces look ridiculous, but the men wearing them developed a fear of cats, as they would often pounce on the men’s heads and eat the leaves.

Subsequently, the practice of using real human hair was developed by a funeral director. Alarmingly, the wearers of these toupees often took on the characteristics of what later became known through popular films as the “living dead,” much to the consternation of their loved ones.

At this point, bald men began the horrifying practice of flinging their side hairs across their scalps, as if they were fooling anybody. Unfortunately, this practice is still used now and then, for some unfathomable reason.

Toupees are now nearly obsolete, since most men embrace their baldness at this point in history. For the ones who don’t, current technology exists that allows them to sprout hair like chia seeds. You can still occasionally catch a glimpse of a hairpiece from times gone by that may compel you to ask the wearer, “Is that your real hair, or did an otter die on your head?”


Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?

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