Wigs were very expensive. Poor people who could not afford to buy wigs had to use the cheaper hair extensions.
Hair extensions were often preferred because they could be tied up in the back. Egyptians considered thicker hair as ideal, so, just like today, hair extensions in the form of false plaits and curls were attached to wigs, although full wigs were more common.
Many wigs were extremely complex, and carefully arranged into braids and strands.
Women often wore very long, heavily-braided wigs, and these were considered to add to their sensuality, based on the frequent references in Egyptian romantic poetry.
Men generally wore shorter wigs than women, although their styles were sometimes even more elaborate.
Although Egyptians preferred to wear wigs and took care of them, they also did take care of their natural hair. Washing their hair regularly was a routine for Egyptians. However, it is not known how frequently Egyptians washed their hair.
Wigs were meticulously cared for using emollients and oils made from vegetables or animal fats. Those wigs that were properly cared for lasted longer than those without proper care. Wigs were worn on special occasions and were scented with petals or pieces of wood chips such as cinnamon.
There are numerous representations of guests at banquets and public functions who wear incense cones on top of their heavy wigs. These incense cones can be found in both men and women, and were made of aromatic incense mixed with fat.
Since such incense cones have never been discovered archaeologically, it is assumed that the depiction of the incense cone is used simply to convey the idea that wigs were scented, as a way to illustrate a fact that would otherwise be impossible to represent in pictorial form.
A wig-making workshop has been discovered overlooking the Temple of King Mentuhotep at Deir el-Bahri. Wigs were made by barbers or by wig specialists, one of the occupations open to Egyptian women. A brown powder, discovered at the aforementioned wig factory, is at present believed to be hair dye.