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.
I was fascinated by an article in the current Southern Living Magazine about aging gracefully. Among other topics, hair was a big one, especially as it relates to aging. And all the “experts” seem to agree that we all make during our aging journey. It made me think that these things apply to wig wearers too.
According to one study they mentioned, Age 46 seems to be the magic age when women decide they need shorter hair and go looking for a more “mature” style. Yes, we all have heard and read that short hair is better for older women. But the reasons have not always been discussed. So, let’s do that. Long hair does NOT necessarily make one look older. However, several things happen as we age. Our face often loses its plumpness, our hair thins and dulls, and becomes more brittle and easier to damage. When our style is too long, it can mean fewer layers, and less movement around the face, causing a static look. Or if too long and straight, pulls your face down, and aging you.
When we get a shorter cut, it is easier to add layers and pump up the volume. The split ends are removed, and the cut, if the right one, a “bob” style, for example, can frame the jawline and flatter your face. Remember—bobs don’t have to be one length.
Let’s look at the mistakes the experts say we are making:
- Hair/wig too long
- Hair/wig color too light
- Hair/wig using too many products causing that “helmet look”
- Hair/wig that’s damaged and needs help/wigs worn too long
What is most flattering can change over the years, this applies to fashion and hairstyles. Are you still trying to look like your college picture, wedding photo, or a picture of yourself when you felt you looked the best? We age, and we can’t let that hamper the way we look today. We have choices.
If your hair is too long, the extra length can pull your facial features down, and the ends can take a beating. When in doubt about the best length for you, focus on healthy-looking cuts that you can customize with bangs or a visit to your stylist.
Don’t try to go too dark. Yes, you may have once had very beautiful, dark hair, but as
we age, the dark color can look too stark, dull our complexion, and age us. The idea is to draw light to the face. If you prefer darker, think about adding highlights around the face.
And there is too much light! So many women like blonde, but some shouldn’t go blonde. Extra light hair can wash out the complexion, having the opposite effect of adding a more youthful look. There are many shades of blonde, so consider your skin tone, age, and style before going too light.
don't want that to be us. But it’s hard to manage hair, especially wig fibers without products. The trick is not to overdo it. Use just enough to accomplish your goal and start with the least amount. Plastered down wig fibers are no more attractive than the old plastered down “helmet head hair” and are not good for our wigs either.
And finally—what is wrong with embracing natural silver strands? That gray stigma is long gone. If you have decided you’d like to embrace the look if you had natural hair, then don’t shy away from it in wigs. If you choose the right shade, there is something so striking about this color. It is as attention-getting as the blonde shades. And I’ve never heard a woman who has gone gray/silver/white say they regretted it or wanted to go back. That says a lot.
So, as nature works on “fading us out” let’s fight back a little and give nature a helping hand. Let’s learn what colors and styles work for us, and let’s not be afraid to embrace the gray, or go with that mid-length layered bob. So many wigs, so little time…
Until next time,
Vickie Lynn – who now has the silver wig bug
Are you, like so many others, thinking about many things when it comes to wig-wearing? There is, after all, an endless number of things to worry about. Which wig is best for me? What about the style, the color, the capsize…and the cap itself? Must I get heat-friendly for it to look realistic? Can I deal with a wig with no mono top or mono part? Do I need a lace front? And what about permatese? Can I cut bangs into the wig? How do I wash it, dry it, thin it out, store it, and keep it looking good? You see what I mean when I say endless.
The good news is that there are people who have gone down this path before you and have left you a wealth of knowledge to save you some worry. If you have gotten this far, to be reading this, you are likely familiar with the great customer service at WigStudio-1. There isn’t much they don’t know about wigs and wig care. Between their amazing customer service and the fabulous wig reviewers they work with, you are in good hands.
Other than all the questions we wig wearers have as noted above, there are plenty more that are not as easy to answer. What wig style is best for me—the me that is now over 40, 50, 60, 70, and so on? Can the right wig style and color make me look ten years younger?
I’m not big on giving promises about things that I can’t control, but I can tell you that I did see the difference for myself when I lightened my color and shortened my hairstyle. No, you don’t have to have an old-style short, boring look. Look at Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, for example. They have different skin tones, face shapes, and they make the most of their personal attributes by picking hair colors and styles that flatter their face shape, and their skin tones. There are many more examples that you can find in older women as well. Sharon Stone (63) and Helen Mirren (76) come to mind. Though of different generations, both are over 60 and both are currently sporting short hair that is not only stylish but sexy as well.
Like it or not, and we do NOT, our biological hair thins, fades, and gets more brittle. But we have wigs to help. Our skin color and tone also fade, and we can’t stay stuck with hair color, hairstyles, and makeup colors at 50 and beyond that, we had at 20 or even 30. Though styles and cuts will go out of fashion, what is always in fashion is a good style for YOU, and the right color for YOU. Sometimes, it takes a while to realize that time has moved on, but maybe, well—we didn’t move on so much with our look. Are you still trying to pull off the look you had 10 years ago?
Another worry I hear about constantly is the long hair issue. Yes, of course, you can still wear long hair after 40 if it is the right style/cut for you and your face shape. The best thing to remember about this subject is that long, straight hair can drag the face down, especially in order women. If you have a long neck too it’s even more of a challenge. The answer is adding some waves or curls around your face lighten up the hair around your face and consider bangs. If you were blonde for years and now think “too blonde” is not for you or looks too unrealistic or harsh for your age, go with a wig that has highlights around the face, and many do. As for bangs, the experts say that side-swept or wispy are usually the best for older women. Layers are little miracles, I hear. Not only do they give the hair/wig more body and life, but they also give you more styling options. Don’t rule out the classic bob or pixie cut. If you have the face shape for it, go for it. They don’t drag the face down, they look youthful, and are easy to work with and style.
In the end, it all goes back to one thing: wear what makes you happy. And if you learn what works best for you, you will be happier for sure. Can the right wig style and color make you look ten years younger? I can’t guarantee that, but I’d almost bet on five at least. That’s what I was told when I shortened my styles and lightened my colors. I’ll take it.
Until next week, stop worrying decide what looks best on you, and go for it.