Humans throughout history have dealt with hair loss in varying ways. Hair loss treatments have become more sophisticated in recent years, but over 70 million Americans are still balding. Scientists have, however, recently confirmed that a certain version of the twentieth chromosome is responsible for hair loss, so there may be hope for the future.
Wigs: The first solution
Covering up one’s hair loss is a tried and true solution that has been in use for centuries. As early as 3100 BC, both male and female Egyptians were making the cover-ups from vegetable fibers, human hair and sheep’s wool. Wigs later became popular around 2900 among the upper class in Sumeria, and evidence shows that the Romans were fond of both the half wig, known as the galerus, and the full wig, or capillamentum. Julius Caesar decided to forgo an imitation head of hair, instead opting for a “comb forward.”
Wigs remained the only real solution to hair loss until the early 19th century when snake oil salesmen started touting the benefits of hair loss “cures.” Oils and formulas were the standard for over 100 years, until the Evans Vacuum Cap Company developed a scalp-exercising device in 1905 that purportedly stimulated circulation and hair growth.
Balding people had more options than ever before starting in 1980 with the advent of hair plugs,
a surgical procedure that moved individual hairs to balding areas. Eight years later, Rogaine hit the market, giving hope to balding people everywhere with its promise to stimulate hair growth without surgery. The Hair Club made a similar promise in 1991.
The traditional wig solution was revamped and modernized in 1995 with snap on hair that stayed in place and looked natural. That same year, micrograft hair solutions revolutionized hair plug technology.
A new drug treatment, Propecia, was released in 1998 to treat male pattern hair loss. The successful treatment lasted only as long as consumers took the drug but showed effectiveness, especially in the crown area.
In the 2000s, balding men and women could choose from even more hair loss solutions, including follicular unit extraction and automated hair transplant surgeries. The next step in treatment will be hair regrowth injection therapy, but scientists are still perfecting the technique.