When I first started wearing wigs, making them last longer was not even on my radar as something to think about. I was busy thinking about how I looked, if the wig would fall off, and did I buy the right color and style. It was around wig number two that I started thinking about all the other things—the difference in fibers, cap construction, and how to style wigs to make them work better for me. In other words, I was getting over the fear and into the basics.
Here are the things I had to learn along the way. I hope that if you are a new wig wearer, having the information here all together will help you and save you time and frustration.
- Understand your wig cap’s construction: Is it hand tied, machine wefted, lace front, mono top, mono crown, mono part?
- Respect Your Fibers: Read any manufacturer’s care instructions or do a search to find out how to care for your wig fibers. Fiber composition makes a big difference in how to care for your wig. Human hair, blended (human hair with synthetic), heat-friendly or not—they all have different needs.
- Use the correct brush or comb: It’s helpful to get into the habit of combing through your wig after taking it off. Gently (and with the appropriate comb type) remove any tangles. Smoothing and separating the hair fibers before storage will not only keep your wig looking its best, but it will be ready for wear the next time without worry. Always comb in small sections, slowly, starting at the ends and moving toward the crown. Careful of pulling too hard. You don’t want to unknot any fibers from the crown.
- Store Your Wig with Care: Everyone seems to have their own method. If you rotate your wigs a lot, keeping them out and on wig heads/stands is fine. If you have too many for that, you can store them in the box they came in, be careful to make sure the fibers are not twisted or out of shape if you will be storing them for longer periods. Some people hang the from pegs or similar setups. If you are using boxes, remember to store them so that you can read the name on the box for easier access.
- Watch that heat, please: This is always a scary thing the first time you try it on your wig. Remember that synthetic hair does not respond like human hair. Start with the lowest temperature that is advised rather than the highest. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to high temperatures will shorten the life of your synthetic wig or topper.
- Don’t over Wash! Washing your wig, especially over time, will cause some shedding and a slight loss of density, no matter how gentle you are. Everyone is different, and you can adjust the when-to-wash rules to you based on several things: how many hours a day your wear the wig, does your head sweat, and how many products do you use, to name a few. If you take the wig off and can smell the wig cap, that’s a clue. If your fibers seem to be sticking together, that’s a clue. If your fibers look dull and lifeless…yes, a clue. You get the idea. Use good judgment, and with the idea in mind that the more you wash, the shorter the lifespan. Use Silicon Based Products (and other products) On Your Wig, sparingly. Over time, the use of any product will cause a buildup that can result in a lifeless, dry, and flat look. A thorough washing is the only answer.
- Don’t Sleep in Your Wig: Both static and sweat cause frizz, often resulting in tangles which will result in damaged fibers, and so on. It’s not worth it.
- Don’t Wear Your Wig to the Gym: No matter how cute that guy is at the gym that you want to impress or how much more attractive you feel with your wig on in general, think twice. If you must wear a wig, set aside one wig, maybe one that is shorter, and aging, one that you only wear for this one thing. Otherwise, opt for another type of headgear.
- Don’t Wear Your Wig in a Swimming Pool: The chemicals in the water are not your wig’s friend. Invest in a head wrap, or bathing cap, or if you do go in and don’t plan to get your wig wet at all…. but you do, rinse it out immediately and condition it lightly, letting it air dry overnight before trying to comb through.
Your Wig is an investment, both financially and emotionally. With a little thought and care, it will last you a long time and help you look your best along the way.
It’s hard to argue that human hair gives the most natural appearance—but maybe not with the minimum of effort. The movement, color, texture, and realistic sheen make it a desirable choice for many.
Here are some recurring questions, comments, opinions, from experts and might answer some questions for you about the challenges and care of human hair wigs that you might like to review if you are considering one:
- Should I wash it before wearing it? Yes, wash the coating off to make it easier to style.
- Heat styling (at a safe level) vs air drying is recommended.
- How often should I wash the wig? If the hair appears dull, lifeless, it’s time. This, like synthetics, is usually every 6-8 wears. Deep conditioning every other wash might be helpful (mid-shaft to ends). Be careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Use shampoo and conditioning products made for color-treated hair.
- As a general rule: Do not leave the conditioner on for more than 3-4 minutes, rinse using cool water, blot/ press excess moisture with a towel.
- Style as you would your bio hair, being careful about the temperature of any equipment that you use.
- Do not dry the wig on a solid form or mannequin head to avoid stretching the cap.
- Treat the lace with care.
- Don’t brush the wig when wet, finger comb only.
Other human hair questions: What is Remy Hair? What is Virgin Hair?
Remy hair manufacturers have focused on making sure the cuticle layers (scales) of the hair strand are facing in the same direction. Closing the cuticle protects the hair and reflects light more naturally giving the wig a healthy but natural shine.
Virgin hair is unprocessed and untouched by chemicals. Remy human hair wigs can be virgin but don’t have to be.
One of the biggest differences, besides price, when looking at synthetic vs human hair wigs, is the task of styling. Human hair, just like our bio hair, will need to be styled and re-styled. Unlike synthetic wigs that hold a style, and save you time, human hair will demand more attention. If you are not talented in the styling area, or just don’t want to be bothered with this every morning, it can be an issue for some people. There will be a learning curve, and one that some don’t want to or just can’t tackle.
The care process of human hair wigs is similar to synthetic wigs, but they take more care, and usually more time for that care. The experts tell us to rotate our human hair wigs daily to make them last longer. And like synthetics, a lot of washing will take a toll. Also, like synthetics, correct washing and drying are crucial to the life of the wig.
Buying the right products is as important for human hair wigs as they are for synthetics. Why invest a lot of money in a wig only to use inferior products? The other issue with human hair is finding the right temperature for your appliances when you style the wig. If you constantly overheat your wig, it will shorten its life. Like synthetics, pay special attention to the ends of the hair, extra conditioning and trimming can make a big difference in the look and the life of the wig.
It’s been my experience that hairdressers prefer to work with human hair wigs from a styling point of view. This is understandable, but if you are lucky enough to live near a wig boutique, you will usually find someone skilled in styling human and synthetic wigs.
I made the mistake of buying a human hair wig too early in my wig journey. I had not learned enough about wigs in general and human hair wigs in particular. I grew frustrated trying to style the wig every morning and was never entirely happy with the results. I have since learned a lot but find that I gravitate to heat-friendly synthetics because I don’t like the constant styling aspect of human hair wigs, and I like to change up styles and colors. That can become very expensive with human hair wigs. But with all that said, I can see myself buying another human hair wig someday if I can find that “perfect one” – hey, you know what I mean.
Until next week,
Enjoy life and take a deep breath,