When wigs were not used, they were kept in special boxes, on a stand or in chests. When needed they could be worn without tiresome combing, this practice is recommended wig care even in our times.
Because wigs were also considered necessary for the afterlife, they were buried in tombs, some contained in special wig chests. Quite a few wigs have survived, in particular from the New Kingdom.
In the New Kingdom, people preferred wigs with several long tassel-ended tails, while shorter and simpler wigs became popular in the Amarna period.
The finest wigs were made entirely of human hair. Others, apparently in the mid-price range, have vegetable fibers intertwined with the hair. Sometimes sheep wool was also used. The least expensive wigs, certainly the least realistic, were made entirely from vegetable fibers.
Some human hair wigs had a vegetable fiber padding underneath, to enhance fullness and thickness, very desirable attributes according to Egyptian standards.
Although wigs depicted in artwork are recognizable as such, the effect given is always realistic. The ideal for a good wig seems to have been that it should look like real hair, only better.
Ancient Egyptians were very concerned about appearance, just as modern-day people, and strived to conceal aging. They used a material called henna (used for nails and lips, too) to dye their hair red. Henna is still very popular in all the Middle Eat nowadays. Scientific studies show that people used henna to disguise their grey hair from as early as 3400 BC. There is a body of evidence from paintings that depict the existence of people with red hair, such as the 18th Dynasty Hunutmehet. She had distinctive red hair mentioned by Grafton Smith.
Sometimes hair would be dyed, even after death, with vegetable henna, which would dye the naturally dark hair a deep auburn color, and the unpigmented grey hairs would usually be much lighter.
Wigs were also dyed, with henna and other materials.
The ancient Egyptians were the first, and probably unique, civilization to have recorded a widespread usage of wigs, throughout all their social layers.
They became famous for their expertise in the crafting of wigs and continued to use them well into Roman Empire times, as this portrait of an Egyptian woman wearing a Roman style wig shows.