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.
Yes, we talk about the challenges a lot, but there are also many benefits to wig-wearing. Like most things, wearing a wig and caring for it takes some work. But maybe you (like I) sometimes forget to think of the upside, the benefits.
To get the most out of your wig it is important to know how to choose and care for them. Here are a few tips from the wig-wearing experts like some of you:
- Find a wig color that matches your skin tone. Treat the wig color just as you would picking a color to enhance your bio hair and your look in general. If you were a blonde before and know that blonde is a good color for you, it might help to stay in the blonde “family” when buying your first wig. You can branch out as you go and learn more about what wig colors are available.
- If security is a challenge for you, look at the many ways to secure your wig, and there are many to pick from. Don’t spend your time worrying about your wig slipping or worse, falling off when there are so many securing options to choose from. Tape, clips, glue, caps, grips, and the list goes on. Find what works for you. Reach out for help if you are new to the wig world. You’ll find many people willing to give you the benefit of their experience. But remember, it is THEIR experience, and your issues or questions might be different. For example, some won’t leave the house without a wig grip and other items. Some leave the house with absolutely nothing between their wig and their head. It’s a very personal thing based on many factors.
- Make the wig YOURS. I can’t stress this enough…do not think you will be able to pull the wig from the box, put it on your head, and love it unconditionally. This rarely happens. Believe me when I tell you, a one-time investment with a hairstylist to trim and shape it to your face is the best money you will ever spend. Along with this, please watch the many helpful videos WigStudio1 supports, and remember to take advantage of the great consultants they have standing by to help.
- Know your head size, and know that though wigs are mass made, you can find ways to achieve a good fit with a bit of work. You will find that some brands fit your head better than others. You will learn which cap construction types suit your head and your comfort level best. There comes experience.
- If your wig has a part, and most do, don’t make it so straight and perfect. Perfect is not realistic.
- Don’t be afraid to personalize it. You can wear clips/barrettes and other things to change up your look to fit your mood or outfit.
- Care, care, and care. Washing and conditioning your wig is important and can add not only to the look of your wig but to its life.
- Appreciate the good stuff about wig-wearing:
- You can change your look in minutes.
- There are no more bad hair days.
- There are no more minutes or hours in front of the mirror trying to hide your thinning bio hair.
- There is little styling time required, saving you time and frustration.
- You can try a new style and color without a costly long-time commitment as with bio hair.
- Wigs can help you through recovery from an illness or be a daily friend.
- Save your bio hair from repeated heat, coloring, or bleaching.
- Freedom! Change your style, your color, your look. Wigs are great!
Wishing everyone a great holiday season!
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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.
As we all know by now, attitude is important. If you look at your wig and all you can think of is loss—hair loss, then touching that wig, wearing that wig can have a negative effect on your self-image, mood, and how you act and interact with others.
Hair loss, like any other condition one might have, is often something that we can’t reverse, but there are a lot of things that we can do to live with it. Wearing a wig does not change who you are, but it can change how you look and feel—for the better if you let it.
Now that I have reminded you (and myself) of this, let’s move on to some other practical things, like advice from the so-called “experts” and how much faith should we have in what they say.
My disclaimer - (Though there is “collective wisdom” in the hair, wig, and beauty industry, I’m not convinced that all of this advice below is much more than opinion, so read it with your skeptical glasses.):
While it's a beauty myth that women over 60 must wear their hair short, the real marker for whether you should be wearing your hair short is whether it would be flattering to your face shape and hair texture. This short hair look works best on those with naturally straight, medium-textured hair.
Does short hair make you look thinner or heavier? It is believed that short hair isn't suitable for women with round faces. (However, that's not totally true.) Some cuts do nothing for you, but some that can flatter your round face. The perfect ones will be cuts with choppy strands framing the face, asymmetric side-parted hairstyles, angled bobs/lobs, and styles with the volume on top of the head.
What is a good hairstyle for a 60-year-old woman? A wavy medium-length shag style is the best haircut for older women, especially women in their 60s plus. It looks flattering with bangs especially, and some say it can take about a decade off your age/look. Layers can mean more movement and a more youthful look. Shorter hair, which tends to expand at the ends, can leave you with an unflattering triangle effect. Whereas loose waves and that movement makes for a younger look. Beware that straight hair can age you, so play around with face-framing layers to give your hair some softness and movement.
The Ever popular and Debated “what hair for what face shape”:
(Here is what I found from the same so-called beauty “expert”):
- If Your Face Is Heart-Shaped: Wispy, Layered Cut.
- If Your Face Is Oval-Shaped: Angular Bob.
- If Your Face Is Square-Shaped: Shoulder-Length Cut.
- If Your Face Is Round-Shaped: Pixie Cut – What? Isn’t this the reverse of what this same expert said before?
- If Your Face Is Long-Shaped: Side-Parted curly bob
Everyone has an opinion. For example, I would not wear a pixie cut with a very round face unless I had small delicate features. So, take this “collective wisdom” with a grain of salt. I think it’s about a bit more than face shape. It’s about hair color, hairstyle, density, texture, and one’s attitude too.
Can changing our hair color make us look younger? (an always popular question)
I think we can all agree this can be true. Here again, are some “experts” weighing in. What do you think? Again, I think it depends on skin tone and condition, and the hairstyle and volume. I am not a fan of gold tones myself because it doesn’t go with my complexion, but it works for many others. So we see again that these blanket declarations may not be right for everyone. Also, I have seen many women who can rock white hair with no gold tones. But I do agree that tone can be important, and shading, highlights, all those things can make or break a look. Again, take the following “expert’s declarations” with a grain of salt:
- Blonde. As we age many people experience premature gray. For blondes, this can look ashy and age the complexion. Rather than keep your tresses platinum or white, add some gold tones to your highlights and you’ll soften your skin tone.
- Red. Adding warmth to red and strawberry blonde hair has the same effect as adding warmth to blonde. It makes you look healthier. Ditch the blue reds and select something warm to add a youthful glow to your tone.
- Brunette. Lighten up dark roots with caramel highlights and you’ll ditch the drab. A few highlights will soften your look and recapture the youth of summer days long past.
- Black. This is tricky. Black hair can be undeniably mysterious, but when in doubt – leave the blue out. A warm shade of black looks more natural and believable than Elvira’s blue-black, and there’s nothing worse than an off-tone box job look, no matter your age.
In summary, I wanted to point out that everyone has an opinion and that often these “experts” know less than we do. I say that we know best—you know best. Most women have had enough hairstyles and colors that they have learned what looks best on them. If you are a new wig wearer and get close to your bio hair color that you loved, you will likely be more comfortable. But remember, our complexion does change as we age, and we get lighter in the winter, darker in the summer, at least to some degree usually. And more than that, we have undertones in our skin that run from yellow to pink. The hair color that looked good on you at twenty-five may not look so great now. Don’t be afraid to change your color if it looks good on you. Look at the colors in your wardrobe. What do you gravitate to, have more of in your closet? That will give you a clue if you are warm, cool, or neutral in the tone family. Once you know that it is easier to pick a wig color that also will have shades/tones to compliment your skin tone. There are tons of videos and articles about picking your skin tone and under-tone.
We are the real experts, you, me, and other wig wearers. Follow the talented ladies here on this site for some great demos and information for all types of wig-wearing assistance. Also, follow us on Facebook, another great place for information from the real experts, those who know wigs, wear wigs, and know colors, and styles!
Until next time,
Happy short Wig Season (for me anyway)