There is much more to choosing a wig than liking how it looks—in theory. I was asked to address this topic again: What are some of us doing wrong with our wigs? I will re-review some of the answers I got when I interviewed some stylists in my town, and who I knew would tell me like it is. They work with clients who wear helper hair, so they understood what I was asking.
Though wigs are different from natural hair in a lot of ways, the same rules apply when it comes to color, length, and style. There is nothing worse than getting the perfect wig and finding it is not perfect for you. (This was the first hard lesson that I learned.)
What follows is the advice of two stylists who have devoted most of their careers to hair. They nicknamed their advice their “dirty dozen” rules for hair—wigs included.
Here are their opinions based on their experience.
“The Dirty Dozen” questions and concerns from clients:
- Center parts—not for everyone. They can make you look older. It takes away from the fullness at the crown. If you are young, it’s not so much a concern. Most people do tend to look better with more fullness at the crown. It draws the eye upward.
- The ongoing debate of whether should older women have long hair or not: If your hair is too long it can make you look older. They agreed that it doesn’t have to be short to work best for mature women, but long hair draws the face down, and the eye down, especially with heavier bottom ends styles with a lot of volume. Do you want people to focus on your chin and neck? For longer styles think layers and less density. Women of all ages can wear long hair and look good, but style and color are everything. They did note that if you have a heart-shaped face you have an advantage in wearing longer styles, especially with bottom volume. This style works best to “fill out the face triangle” by having more hair at the bottom under the chin area.
- Manage your expectations. Understand what your style really is – meaning, what you like and what looks best on you may not be the same thing. Also, make sure you are using volume in the right places. Refer to their comments on face shape. How does your hairstyle work with you or against you to compliment your face?
- If you have a full or very round face, watch for too much volume on the sides near the cheeks. A lot of hair there will make your face look wider. Try for more volume on top and a longer style that comes under the chin—not at the chin and curving around to accentuate more roundness.
- If you have a long face, go for that side fullness and less volume on top. You can still wear longer styles if you like, just balance the hair with the face. Bangs are also good for long faces. More about bangs in number seven.
And for all the face shapes in-between round, long, heart-shaped, well, you get the idea. The stylists’ mantra: where do you want the focus? What features do you want to highlight, or dimmish?
Bangs – handle with care was their advice. No thick straight across-cut bangs unless you have a long face and even then, it can be tricky depending on the style. Thick straight bangs will “close your face” and make a round face look even more so. Their advice for most bang lovers is to keep it light, don’t cover your entire forehead, ever. Keep your face open by making sure your forehead can be seen, at least part of it.
Color can make all the difference. Natural hair is not just one color. For wigs, you must have some shading and dimension to look natural. Know what colors work for you. For example, gold blondes tend to age some people depending on their skin tone and undertones. For some people ashy shades make them look ill or washed out. Learn if you are a cool, warm, or neutral in the color family, and pick your hair colors appropriately. A special note for those over the fifties: Going too dark can look harsh and fake. Better to lighten up, and don’t be afraid to go salt and pepper or silver/gray. It will make you look younger than the too-dark shades.
Layers are important for styling in that they keep things more balanced, and the look is less heavy– hair that just hangs in one length brings the eye down.
Don’t use too much product. If your hair won’t move it dates your style, and makes you look older. Don’t be a helmet head.
Visit a stylist and let him or her make your wig more you—have it tweaked to bring out the best in the wig so that your wig will bring out the best in you. It is a good investment especially if you have an expensive wig and wear it every day.
Be open to trying new styles. There is nothing that dates you more than keeping the same style for too many years.
This ultra-light sculpted short style is a modern classic with all of the best features. It has a hand-tied top to let you part wherever you like, and creates a natural look with an extended lace front. This style is low in density and has airy movement. There are side-sweeping bangs to flatter and frame the face and features a neck-hugging nape. It is a polished, tailored style that's ready to go... you deserve all the best!
These soft salon-inspired barrel curls are so flattering and so easy to make your own! This low-density style is surprisingly versatile. Simply mist this style to bring out the texture or brush through for a fuller, sophisticated look. The lace front hairline runs from ear to ear, and the mono part extends all the way to the crown for a very natural part line. It also gives you the ability to wear off of the face, or with a sweeping bang.
It's easy to fall for this short, textured shag. The modern movement comes from the all-over layering, and expertly tapered ends. From the volume at the crown of this style, the chin-length layers that frame the face, a charming eyelash bang, and a razor cut nape, you will love everything about this soft, casual cut.
Wig Studio 1
Wig Studio 1
Before I got into wigs, literally and figuratively, I never gave much thought to the size of my head. After all, a head is a head, I thought. How wrong I was. No two heads are exactly the same. That would be a rare find. Though specific measurements might match, back, across, around, etc., you do not measure crown to chin, across the cheekbones, or pay much attention to the forehead. You might think, what does a face have to do with wigs? I thought this was going to be about wig caps.
It is not only about wig caps, but about your entire head—and of course, that includes your face. So, when you get a wig home, and it does not resemble the look you saw online or in a magazine, and you wonder why—I can tell you. It might be because your head and face structure/shape is nothing like the model’s face. No, I don’t mean looks—is she younger, prettier, not as pretty as you, etc.? I mean the actual face.
And now the hard questions. The ones you need to think through to be happy with your wigs. And that is the name of the game. You want your wig to be part of you, to reflect you, work with your look, not alter your look poorly. As you think of the wigs you own, what didn’t work, what did, you will likely have figured some things out already. If you are consistently unhappy with your wig choices, I have come up with some questions that might help you.
- Are you wearing a wig that flatters your face shape?
- Do you have a longer or shorter than average neck? If so, the wig will fall differently on you and will be longer or shorter on you than maybe you expected if you based your choice entirely on the model.
- Are you picking a wig strictly for the color and style without reflecting on how it will enhance your looks?
- Will a lot of hair on the sides make your wider face look winder than you like?
- If you have a longer, thinner face, will that long straight style pull your face down more?
- Do you work at an office all day, and will those curls on that longer style end up a bunched-up mess from rubbing against your collar for 8-9 hours?
- Does that short style that looked so cute on the model make you look “all face” because your face is bigger and your features are not as petite as the model?
- Will too much hair on top overwhelm your petite stature and face and make you look like Barbie?
One thing that also helped me was to try on different styles, lengths, and colors in a wig boutique to get a better idea of what worked. Then armed with that knowledge, I knew I could order wigs from good companies like Wig Studio 1 and feel confident that I was getting the right ones for me and at a better price! I know that not everyone lives near a wig boutique and, there will be more trial and error and maybe a few returns before you work it out.
The other error we often make is trying to go back in time to the style and color you had when “I had good hair” and while that may work now, it may not. We age, lose collagen in our faces, our complexion changes, and what looked good on us ten years ago, may not work so well now. Also, hairstyles change. I saw a picture of myself from my college days and gasped. Geez, did I ever have big hair! I would look ridiculous in that style today. So, don’t go back in time, create the “you” for today.
With all that said, head measurements do, of course, play an important role. There are some great videos about how to measure your head, and that should be your first base—know if you are truly average, and if you are in-between, learn how to alter the cap to suit you better, and there are videos on that as well.
Don’t settle for just okay in style or comfort. You deserve better. You deserve to love your wig and love your look. It can be done!
Until next time, Happy September, and I’ll soon be looking at the fall styles, how about you?
*with thanks to In Touch Salon Spa who published the information on face shapes that helped confirm my research.