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The Glamour of Wigs: Egypt's Hair Obsession

Wigs need to make a comeback. Doesn’t anyone realise how super cool they are? Mona Daoud heads to Boustige and try some on, from the outrageously ridiculous, to the stunningly beautiful, and finds out more about the multi-million pound industry.

Wigs are the key to a true reversible makeover that you can actually try out before taking the leap. Every woman knows how important hair is, and not all of us are blessed with naturally lovely hair. We’ve invested in everything from anti frizz serums, to expensive keratin treatments that keep evolving and getting more expensive, with Botox being the latest rage.

In our endless attempts to look great and have great hair, we can ruin our it, and as trivial as it may sound, it does take a toll on one’s psychology. Colouring, highlighting, bad haircuts, humidity, over blow drying and ironing, and not to mention Egypt’s god damn heat that has us sweating buckets, all end up frustrating us and giving us too many bad hair days. Yet for some reason, hardly anyone ever thinks of the perfect solution; a wig.

Sounds outrageous doesn’t it? But why? A lot of women invest in extensions that are harder to maintain than a wig and that are not good for your hair. Somehow, it seems to be more socially acceptable.

We venture out to Cairo’s most famous, and highly esteemed wig shop,  Boustige Group, also known as Hamada Boustige, to dig up more on wigs and try some on to experiment with the feasibility of investing in one.

According to Alaa Nour Eldin, sales manager at Boustige, business has been thriving steadily over the past 15 years. A real people’s person, there is no one Nour Eldin can’t deal with, from difficult women who don’t know what they want, to psychologically distressed people undergoing Chemotherapy, or recovering from an accident. Boustige is also frequented by women with falling hair, bad hair, weak hair, thin and fragile hair, ages 25 and up. They also get a lot of transgender people of whom he is very fond, because of how easy it is to deal with them. “They don’t waste my time, and they trust me. I love this business, and know it inside out, being here for 15 years, and I appreciate it when people put themselves in my hands and are willing to invest in the finest quality,” says the expert.

Clients from all walks of life, backgrounds, and personalities visit the store. Women from the Gulf have been visiting the boutique for generations, since it opened up in 1970. Not to mention the actors, TV presenters, politicians and business women and men. “We get a lot of veiled women too, even munaquabat,” says Nour Eldin, demonstrating the large variety of people who invest in wigs.

There are many types of wigs, mainly divided between natural hair wigs and synthetic wigs. Natural wigs, of course, are fantastic They feel and look natural down to the parting of the hair, and can be treated just like natural hair. It can be dyed, it can be straightened, it can be curled, and sales soar in the summer when women and young fashionistas who are always well coiffed don’t know how to deal with the heat. Sahel season is natural hair wig season, believe it or not. This is because you can swim in the sea or the pool just as you do with your normal hair, then wash it, and even wear it wet and let it dry the way you would with your own hair.

It is so damn convenient, it’s surprising that it’s not all the rage.

Boustige imports the hair from East Asia, (mainly India), Eastern Europe (mainly Croatia), Brazil and Italy. They import from companies that are directly authorised by their governments, and upon arrival to Egypt, the hair is meticulously inspected by the Ministry of Health, just like prescription medication. Boustige then manufacture the wigs themselves. Some are hand made, some are factory made, and you can even have a wig custom made. You just go to them with the design you want, choose from hair types and colours they have, and you get your wig in 25 days.

Some women, especially those with extremely light hair, or who undergo chemotherapy and have shaved their heads, can get the wig professionally attached to their heads by Boustige and it can effortlessly stay on for 20 good days.

A natural hair wig starts at 4,000 LE, and depending on hair type, thickness, length and colour, with blondes being more expensive, it can go up to 9,000 LE.

In comparison to the 400,000 LE that an average woman spends on her hair in her lifetime, this is very convenient. It seems expensive but it’s a worthwhile investment that will save you a lot of trouble, hassle, and the unnecessary effort of trying to stifle a boiling low self esteem.

Not sure how you feel about wigs, and not ready to make that investment? Try out a synthetic one. Synthetic wigs come in grades, with the lowest quality at 400 LE. Although it looks good, you’d better hope to hell that no one tries to touch it, since it has a rough feel. If you spend just a little bit more, like 650 LE, you can get a pretty decent wig that looks and feels natural. Unless it’s for a costume or Halloween party, the 400 LE wig is not worth it.

Needless to say, Halloween is one of the store’s most active times of the year for synthetic wigs, with literally hundreds of foreigners, and an increasing amount of Egyptians more recently, flooding through their doors. Synthetic wigs are not limited to party mongers, though; they are also heavily used by film production companies and theatres. 

Love for wigs is so far an oppressed fetish. The idea excites and thrills many women, yet something keeps them from going for it and getting one, let alone wearing it in public and everyday life.

Think of all the personalities you can be with a collection of wigs. Even if you just buy one perfectly fitting natural hair wig that exaggerates your natural beauty you’ll feel like a completely made over different person. And oh, how it feels good!  Meanwhile, give your natural hair a chance to recover from all the drama you expose it to. Cairo…it’s time to take up wigs as a fashion statement!

Check Boustige's Facebook Page or website.

Photo Credits Christina Rizk. You can follow Christina@christinarizk on Instagram