Traveling with Your Wigs
(Wig shown above: AMARA WIG BY RENE OF PARIS)
Last summer I covered some of the “survival ideas” about getting through the summer with wigs and toppers. This week I’m taking another look at the challenges of traveling with wigs and caring for them during the summer when we are on the go.
Let’s look first at how we get our wigs safely to our destination:
HOW TO PACK AND STORE WIGS WHEN TRAVELING:
When you’re new to wearing wigs, learning how to pack a wig and travel with your wigs can be tricky because there are so many things to consider. Here are a few of the most asked questions:
- What products should you bring?
Answer: Think less is more and just bring what you need, and don’t overload on products either in your suitcase—or your wig. Take travel-size shampoo, conditioner, and sprays, and make sure you label them. (Not admitting that I didn’t do this and regretted it a few years ago.)
- How many wigs should you bring?
Answer: Always have a spare or two. Instead of washing and drying wigs on your vacation rotate them so that unless you get them in the pool or ocean, you won’t need to wash them until you get home. But just in case, default to the travel size products.
- Should you buy a wig-specific carrying case or are there easier options?
Answer: No need for special wig carriers, boxes, or containers. Keep reading for my suggestions.
Packing for a trip is all about one thing: suitcase efficiency.
With shoes, daytime outfits, nighttime outfits, makeup, reading materials, and all the chargers that you need, packing efficiency is a challenge. I’m a fan of the zip-lock plastic bags for storage. Cheap, easy to see what you have at a glance, and keeps the wig safe from tangling in the suitcase and keeps it from any debris. Also, it takes up much less space than a carrier, box, or structured container.
KEEP IT SIMPLE:
When traveling this should be our mantra – keep it easy and simple by bringing synthetic wigs that keep their style, the necessary care products, a collapsible stand, and some headgear – hats, scarves, etc., to give you wigs and your head a break.
A RECURRING QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT GOING THROUGH SECURITY AT THE AIRPORT?
Will I have to take off my wig for airport security? It seems the rules change from time to time, but most of the time, from what I have heard and read, it’s rare for anyone to challenge you or make you take your wig off. If the stays in your wig do set off the alarm, just quietly tell them you are wearing a wig. Most of the time they will just pat the back of your head to verify you aren’t smugly something and you go on—or they will just pass you on through.
o Know that TSA/security is not required to ask you to remove your wig. Just like with your clothing, their scanners should be able to see through the wig.
o However—you should avoid wearing too many metal wig clips or bobby pins that could set off a sensor or raise suspicion.
o If you are asked to remove your wig and don’t feel comfortable doing it in front of all the people at security, ask for a private room. TSA is required to grant that request.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
Because I’m a big Plan B person, I’d never put my wigs inside my checked bags. If I am going somewhere for a week or more, I put a spare wig and travel-size products in my carry-on bag. I also include a hat and scarf. Wig care products should not take up any more room in your luggage than care products for bio hair.
SOME HELPERS THAT ONLY YOU WILL KNOW ABOUT:
Dealing with the heat as a wig wearer can be a challenge, even if you are not in some tropical climate on vacation. These are some of the things you might consider to help make things easier:
Bamboo caps, Wig liners
Until next week, be happy, and stop and smell the flowers,
Styling Your Synthetic Wig
(Wig shown above: AVALON WIG BY RENE OF PARIS)
We seasoned wig wearers know that synthetic wigs have never been better. They look and feel great, and there is one (or several) to please every wig wearer. They have many great qualities, and having many to choose from is just one of the many benefits. However, like with most things, nothing is perfect, and they do require attention to styling and correct product use.
These are some helpful tips to make living with your synthetic wig easier:
1. Remember the wig “hairs” are not hairs, they are fibers, and must be treated as such.
2. Invest in a spray bottle. It will be your best friend as you “wake up” your new fibers, and tamp down those flyaway bits, and static electricity in general.
3. Use your hands for styling. After waking up the fibers with a spritz of water, most wigs can be styled with just your fingertips. Combing or brushing too “perfectly” is often the culprit behind the “wiggy look” so go easy on perfection.
4. It can’t be said enough: when using a comb or brush on your wig, make sure they are designed for wigs, not human hair. The pulling action of some brushes or combs can damage the fibers or pull them out of the cap.
5. When using comb and brush, (always on a DRY wig) use short strokes for those with curls and longer strokes with light pressure for the smooth styles. Use a pick comb to style ringlet curls to help reduce frizz and manage flyaway bits.
6. Do not use hair care products designed for human hair.
7. Do not use heat unless the synthetic wig is “heat friendly” because it will damage the wig fibers.
8. When it’s time to wash your wig, you can restore it to its original style by washing it in cool water with wig-designated products. A lot of wig wearers swear by the “hang it upside down” to dry method. I have yet to try it because most of my wigs are shorter and dry fast on the wig stand.
9. How to get more volume: Some wig wearers like to back-comb/tease the underside of individual layers, but you can often get the lift you need by lifting the layers with a wig-comb/pick and spraying underneath.
10. Making changes to your wig: This topic comes up a lot. How easy is it to cut bangs, trip, or otherwise make changes to your wig? Unless you are skilled in this area, my advice is to take it to a professional. A professional can, along with cutting in bangs, trimming, etc., also do so in a way that flatters your face, making it more “you” for a truly customized look.
11. Accessorize! This is a tip that is often overlooked. Though I have more recently seen more wig reviewers talk about this. And how true it is. By using headbands, clips, and other accessories, you can add color, and brightness around the face, and make the style truly reflect your taste.
12. There has also been a lot of talk about how to straighten a wig using water or steam. Also, how to curl a wig is a question that I see often on our FaceBook group page. I won’t address these issues here because there are really good “help videos” about this from some of our reviewers that will answer your questions. These are the kinds of questions that need more than a line or two types of answers. Watching a video, and listening to the experts on these subjects will be a better use of your time.
At the end of the day, we are all faced with the good as well as the challenging when it comes to wig wearing, no matter what type of wig it is.
We are all in this together—
Until next time,
Back to Basics – What you will need for “Wig Start-up”
Those of us who have been on the wig-wearing and wig care journey for a long time sometimes forget the overwhelming feeling we had when we first started. Having heard from new wig wearers recently, I was reminded that to master anything, you have to start with the basics.
Let’s begin with something that new wig wearers often forget about until they get that new wig home. We are always so excited, traumatized, scared, happy—pick your word, about getting that first wig that we often don’t think about how to maintain it until we get that wake-up call: How do I take care of it?
What follows are some basics for any new wig wearer or about to be wig wearer. If you aren’t one to read and research, and like one woman told me that when she started, this was a call she made to her hairdresser: “I washed my wig every day, just like my hair, and it didn’t last very long, what am I doing wrong?” Of course, the hairdresser knowing considerably more about the difference between human hair and synthetics gave her the scoop on the differences. This woman, not a fan of reading up on wig care, just treated it like her bio hair. You can imagine the result.
So, let us look backward in this case to how best to get started and what you will need to chair for a wig (and some of this information can be tweaked to include human hair, of course. The type of products may vary but the needs list is about the same.
Here is what would be on any list I made for a new wig wearer:
- Wig stand
- Water spray bottle
- Wig Shampoo
- Wig Conditioner
- Wig brush (Human hair wigs ONLY)
- Wig comb
- Towel (I use a large hand towel and partially dry my wig by gently blotting it wrapped in a towel before hanging on a drying stand (NOT a Styrofoam head).
- Wig hairspray
*Don’t use regular hair products on synthetic wigs (I get this question a lot)
*Don’t ignore your wig’s need for care. Proper maintenance will add weeks to the life of your wig, many months. And save YOU money.
*Detangle your wig before washing
*Resist the urge to comb a wet wig. Let it dry on its own sitting on a proper stand before you touch it with a comb. Don’t worry about how it looks. It will bounce back into its style when dried and then combed.
Special note: Make sure your wig is heat resistant before using any heat on it at all. The fibers on a heat-resistant wig will act differently from a regular synthetic wig with non-heat-resistant fibers. You can ruin your wig quickly by making this mistake.
Tips: in-between washes, lightly spritz your wig with a spray bottle filled with water. Then use your fingers to bring style back and calm down any frizz or flyaway.
A friend of mine swears by Ellen Wille Hair Power Hair Tip Liquid. I have NOT tried this, but if any of you have, let me hear from you.
More Tips: What about curly wigs? Use short and very gentle strokes so that the curls remain intact. A “pick-comb” comes in handy for these styles as well.
How to create volume: Light teasing, then smoothing over and subtle lifting will usually do the trick, followed by wig spray to set it. Be gentle but not too afraid of manipulating it. The fibers are made to take a level of punishment. But remember, too much, too often, and not done with the right tools—the wig’s life will be shortened.
Problems: Try as we might, our wigs will incur some damage, sometimes just by repeated wearing and sometimes due to our mistreatment. Here are some common problems and fixes for synthetic wigs:
- Dryness: Since the fibers are synthetic they can’t produce moisture, so we must take care of that by adding a conditioner. There are multiple leave-in conditioners and deep conditioners out there to choose from. For those clumpy ends, try a little trimming or get your hairdresser to do it, and the popular silicone sprays. (and of course, low heat with a styling tool if heat resistant).
- Fixing unwanted curls, bends, and kinks: Unless your wig is heat resistant, you can’t use high temperatures. But you can use steam. Start slowly and gently and underdo it rather than overdo it because the steam will loosen the fibers but you don’t want it to remove fibers. (Use low heat on heat friendly wigs)
Preventing the Problems: How to prevent common problems and save time, money, and a few tears.
- Only use COLD water on your wig
- Don’t comb a wet wig
- Always air dry your wig
- Don’t apply heat unless it is a heat friendly wig or human hair wig
- Never sleep in your wig
- Use products designed for wigs not human hair
- Use your fingers more than combs for styling, detangling
- Use conditioners to make the wig softer, easier to manage, and comb (and to keep the stray hairs tamed).
How often to wash your wig: As you might expect, it will depend on how often you wear it and how much product you put in it. Rule of thumb every 10-12 wears, but if you wear it two hours a day that will vary greatly compared to wearing it ten to twelve hours a day—you get the point. You must be the judge on this. Does your wig smell okay, is it still smooth and untangled, is it looking dull from the products? You will know when it’s time if you pay close attention.
When it’s time to go: I’ve heard and read different “rules of thumb” on this topic. The consensus is that human hair wigs very well cared for last about six months with “regular wear” and synthetics from six to eight months on average. Sadly, yes, they all have a much too short life span. We’re up against fading, heat, friction, washing, drying, combing, products, and they all take a toll on the fibers (human hair wigs as well). And again, you will have to be the judge. The life span of your wig will be driven by you and what you do or don’t do. Maintenance is the magic word
Your wig can become and will become a great asset to you if you treat it like one.
Until next time,
Best to all,