It doesn’t matter if you are a new wig wearer or have had years of experience, there is always some insecurity when you hit the “buy” button. This is especially true if you think that this one is “the one” or at least will be one of your favorites. But how can you make them last?
Most popular wigs are synthetic or heat-friendly synthetic ones. They are a great combination of a realistic appearance and a more manageable price point. We’ve all heard the projection: with proper care, synthetic wigs can last between 4-6 months if worn daily. That’s great, but what if you could do better?
Of course, the magic word is maintenance, or should that be two words—proper maintenance? Yes, it does matter, and it matters a lot. There are some common mistakes that wig wearers make, even seasoned ones. Here are a few that come to mind, and that I had to learn about along the way:
- Washing your wig too much: Think every ten days, or less if you don’t wear it all day. Pay attention to the look and feel of the wig. Look for build-up at the hairline. This is a flexible rule in that so much depends on the length of the wig, how many products you use and how often, and even the climate you live in. In the end, it will be something you can see and feel that will guide you.
- Not using the correct products and tools: Synthetic wigs require specific shampoos and styling products. Using products not made for synthetic wigs can damage the wig fibers and the cap itself.
- Using too much heat and too often: Heat-friendly wigs are made to withstand some heat, but it’s easy to overdo this. While the ability to add waves, curls, straighten and re-curl sounds great in theory, heat takes a toll on your fibers. Carefully monitor the heat level and pay attention to how the fibers are holding up. Over time the heat-friendly components do break down. Use heat sparingly.
- Not storing your wig properly: This is an often asked question—what is the best way to store a wig. Proper storage is more important than most wearers think. Invest in a good wig stand or several. If you rotate your wigs regularly, you might have several out on stands at all times. This is fine, just keep them out of direct sunlight and too much humidity. The collapsible and easily portable stands are much better than the Styrofoam heads, which can stretch the cap.
- Wearing your wig to the gym or bed—is a no-no for good reasons. The sweat and oils can cause damage to both the wig cap and wig fibers. During the night, your body sheds dead skin and produces oils, and not only will this clog pores but can cause oil build-up on your wig fibers and cap. The friction to the fibers as you move around during the night can break and tangle the fibers. If you are not comfortable going to bed with an exposed scalp, there are some lovely sleep caps available.
- Give your scalp and your wig a break. From hair for hats to hair halos and detachable bangs and wig caps, there are ways to keep your look and give your wig and scalp a break.
- Don’t forget your scalp and/or bio hair. Don’t neglect your scalp. Oils and dead skins cells will clog your pores and cause itching and odors. Our scalps must remain in good condition.
- Finding the right wig cap: If your scalp is sensitive, you might have to try a few caps to find the one that works best for you. This is especially true if you aren’t wearing a mono-top wig. Wig caps are a good investment in comfort.
Next week I’ll tackle the other big question: how can I fix a damaged synthetic wig?
Until next time,
I see this question a lot—what is the best way to store my wigs for a season or an extended time? I have seen a lot of answers on this topic. In the end, it’s up to an individual’s space, resources, and personal preference. But... there are some ways better than others.
A few storage tips:
- Always make sure the wig you are storing is clean.
- Make sure the wig is completely dry and there are no tangles.
- Keep them away from heat and direct sunlight. They will dull your color and break down hair fibers.
- Keep them safe from children and pets. (A good idea in storage or not).
- If you want your wig to maintain its style better, invest in good-quality hairnets.
For more short-term storage, consider these options:
- Use the box it came in. They are stackable and labeled, making it easier for you to grab one and go.
- If you don’t have your wig box or need a way to travel with it that doesn’t take up so much space, fold your wig in half from ear to ear, insert it into a clean, plastic bag, and put tissue inside the wig cap to help it hold shape. You can use a Sharpie and label them to make searching for the one that you want easier.
- Always travel with at least two wigs to ensure that you don’t get an ugly surprise if something happens to one.
- If you have space wig stands are great and convenient, especially if you rotate your wigs often.
- Invest in a shoe rack just for your wigs. The over-the-door racks are perfect for wig storage.
- You can also invest in airtight plastic containers for your wigs so that you can label them with the names and colors of each wig that is stored inside. It will save you time opening plastic bags when you go to search.
What about wig stands? Wig heads? Which is best?
- Collapsible wig stands are great if you are lacking space and just want one or two available all the time, and great for travel.
- Wig stands are also helpful for styling because they let the wig fall as it is meant to, making it easier to style. Securing the wig stand is important to give you more flexibility.
- Mannequin or wig “heads” can also be used for wig storage. Be careful of sizing because storing on this type of head can stretch the wig cap it’s too large. They often cost more than the others and are not travel friendly. Also, they take up space.
- The lightweight styling foam heads are similar to the mannequin heads but less costly, and they are a bit more substantial than a wig stand. They do help keep the wig in shape and are great for those who keep a few wigs out at all times in a rotation. But are not great for travel, of course.
So, the answer is, get all three if you can. They each serve a different purpose.
Remember, if you leave your wigs sitting out, they can collect dust just like anything else. Never fail to give your wigs a good shake before wearing, and if they are to be sitting in one place for longer periods, covering them with scarves will help protect them.
Helpful rules that bear repeating:
Never store a damp wig, make sure your wig is tangle-free, and never store your wigs in heat or direct sunlight. If storing on wig stands/heads, make sure they are protected from dust, pets, and children.
Until next time, think wigs for fall, the holidays, and parties,
Our Old Wigs – or what was I thinking and why do I still have them?
I went on a wig hunt this week—inside my own closet. I retrieved a dozen or so boxes of wigs from the area in my closet where I kept the “maybe someday” things. You know what I mean, like those jeans that used to fit, and I might get back into them “someday” maybe. In the case of wigs, these were from my earlier still learning days. And as tried them on one at a time, one thought kept going through my mind—what was I thinking? I must have thought they looked good at one time, but now, not so much. So, what happened?
Most of us are all pretty hard on ourselves, very critical of every perceived flaw, and I am no exception. But I think that when I first started out wearing wigs, I didn’t know what to expect, and what looked good (meaning believable). I think I was more concerned with that than comfort, finding the right color or style. I didn’t know how comfortable they were supposed to be, nor did I understand much about caps and how they were made or supposed to fit. I picked a few that looked good on the model, and well, lived with them. We all go through a rookie stage, and I think mine lasted through a half dozen wigs at least, maybe more. We live, we learn, we make corrections, and that includes buying wigs. So, maybe we should give ourselves a break about it, especially starting out.
Out of the dozen, I removed from my closet, only two were worth trying to salvage. I am going to see if I can bring them back to life this week. They are totally different in style and color so it will be interesting to wear them again if I do manage to rescue them. I have learned a lot about caps, fit, style, colors, and what works best for me now. So, when I shop for a wig now it is pretty easy for me to put my own filters on before I begin the shopping phase. I know what I want: mono top or mono part at the minimum, lace front, and heat-friendly fibers. I don’t have the patience for human hair care, and I don’t have the talent to style them as I would like, so synthetic works best for me. But I do like the look of human hair and I get that much easier in the heat-friendly fibers. Knowing that I am free to look at styles and color and that makes it easier to shop. Now that I don’t go to an office and see the same people every day, I am free to wear different wigs out and about. Before I didn’t discuss wigs with people I worked with but that locked me into wearing the same wigs all the time.
As I tried on my old wigs, I tried not to be so hard on myself about how they looked because after all, they had been boxed up for some time. Also, I have aged, I am paler now after the lockdown, and that is not a good look under the harsh bathroom lights. But I did have to keep wondering—what was I thinking when I bought them? I can’t answer that, but I also wondered why I kept them after looking at the condition some were in. Clearly, I liked them enough to wear them a lot! In the end, I decided it was the same as looking back at anything, your clothes from years ago, old picture of yourself in different hairstyles, shoes, whatever. Wigs are the same. We pick them for many reasons, and it seems right at the time.
If you have some old wigs put away that should be taken out and donated or revived or tossed – do it. They are serving no one in the closet. It is like the clothes rule, if you haven’t worn something in a year, get rid of it. You will feel better afterward, I promise.
What I need to buy now is not more wigs, but some good products that might help me revive two. I have put a link below to some of the products that I will be trying on my two rescued wigs I will post pictures of them in my next blog if I am successful. Wish me luck. One is a short one that I would love to wear this summer, so I have high hopes for that one. The other is a chin-length, straight bob-style in an unflattering color—which I wasn’t aware it would be at the time I ordered.
So, until then, see if any of these products might help you rescue a wig, or maybe make your current favorites last much longer. If we care for them, they will not be sent to the toss pile too soon. Oh, that conditioner and conditioning spray looks promising!
I will be the first to admit that I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with my wigs. On bad days I hate that I have to wear one, but mostly I am grateful that we have such amazing ones to pick from. I appreciate being able to try a new look and/or color and find the right ones for me without the trauma and drama of going through a salon process. Now I can just pick the look and style I want, put it on, and I am out the door feeling and looking just fine!
But—yes, there are challenges to wig wearing. I wanted to talk about a few today and how I have learned to overcome some of them. You likely have your own methods too, but if you are newer to wig wearing, maybe some of these tips will help you.
First, and what is a worry for all wig wearers—the security of knowing that your wig will stay in place. After all, we are all going for reality. We don’t want our wigs slipping or worse. We do all we can to make sure people don’t look at us and think—wig. So, let’s visit a few things that you can do and some things to consider when it comes to wig security.
- Basic bobbie pins. If you have bio hair and the right wig cap (the pins go through the cap to your hair), and this may be all that you need. A lot of people just use the two long pins that often come with your wig. I have done this myself at times.
- Wig grip. This is the kind of thing I find you either love or hate. If you have a sensitive scalp, have an issue with things on your head making you feel too hot, this might be an issue. Some people love them and would not be without one.
- Double-sided tape. I have used this, and after getting better at placement, (trial and error) I ended up liking this idea. If your tape placement is good you can often get several “wears” before you have to replace it.
- Glue. Wig glue has seen many advancements over the years. But it seems that most wig wearers now use something not meant for wigs at all. “It Stays” - a body-safe adhesive product developed for an entirely different purpose, seems to be the glue of choice these days. I own it but have not yet used it, but I plan to do so soon. (a tip – store it upside down so the roller ball cap doesn’t freeze up).
Second, let’s look at the wig cap itself. If you are having an issue with the wig riding up and have an adjustable cap, try adjusting the tension in the straps. Sometimes, it is as simple as that. We seem to think tighter is better for security, but it doesn’t work that way. Also, think about cap size and your head measurements. Are you wearing the right size—for your wig brand? If you are on the petite end, it could be more challenging for you to find that perfect fit in some brands.
Third, as we all know, the way the wig sits on our head, or more accurately on our bio-hair, makes a lot of difference. Depending on the type of wig cap and the amount of bio hair that you have, or don’t have, the wig can slide around more easily with certain cap structures. You may have to use different securing methods based on which kind of cap that you have. You may have to go through a bit of trial and error to find what works best, but you will find the right system for you and your various wig caps. Don’t give up too soon.
Yes, your wig comes with directions. We’ve all seen the little card enclosed with our wig. And if you have watched any wig videos, and I recommend that you watch many, you will run across all kinds of tips and tricks for taking care of your wig. I would say this—follow the manufacturer’s recommendations first and foremost. But in addition, there are things you can do to tamp down that shine and those wild and crazy pieces of hair that stick upright on top.
I have read some “interesting” things about how to fix these issues, but experience has taught me that less is best. Too much product, whether it be the styling products or even the dry shampoo, can make the wig end up looking dirty and greasy. Start small and then adjust as you see the look that you like. My personal heroes are the dry shampoo and hair spray with a light touch. My wigs tend to be simple in style so I don’t use the styling products but can see how they certainly can add zip and “personality” to the right style. The amount of wild hair spikes and the shine also depends on the type of wig that you have. The total synthetic ones tend to be shiner, and the lighter the color the shiner they seem to be due to light reflection. I find that the heat-friendly ones with more life-like fibers tend to have less of an issue with that kind of thing. But there are some beautiful all synthetic wigs, and with a bit of TLC, you can make them look great too.
Of course, your wig care routine and maintenance will depend upon what kind of wig that you have. Real hair wigs have a different care routine, more like you’d expect of real hair. Mixed fiber wigs, (human and synthetic blends) and heat-friendly wigs, are all a bit different from strictly synthetic. I will do a separate blog on wig fibers and construction soon. The fibers used and the talent of the wig designer and crafter make all the difference in how your wig will feel, fit, and last. Choose well.
Wig storage, washing, and rotation: Some people rotate their wigs often enough that they leave them on the wig “heads” all the time. But most experts recommend that if you are not wearing your wigs very often, store them back in their boxes just like they came, inside out and netted, in most cases. The idea is that if you store them long-term on a wig “head” the wig might stretch or come to take the shape of that head and not your head. I keep two in rotation, always sitting on my “heads” and the rest in their boxes.
Seasoned wig wearers often say that having three in rotation is even better because it makes your wigs last longer because you are not washing the same ones so often. I had three in rotation when I went into an office five days a week, but now I work from home so two is more than enough at the moment. The longer wigs will take a beating faster. The friction of the fibers against your clothes and body will wear down the ends faster than seems fair. Don’t be afraid to baby them with conditioner more often and even trim them if you have that talent.
Wig Washing: A lot of people tend to over-wash or under-wash their wigs. Again, it depends so much on you and how much product that you use. I don’t use a lot of products in mine, so I can get away with a longer period in-between wig washing. The more you wash your wig, and the more care that goes into that washing will make a difference over time. Your wig fibers are not meant to last forever but will last a lot longer with the right care.
Coming blogs will focus on first-time wig wearers; wig construction and fibers; and when wearing the same wig, why we don’t look like the wig model on YouTube or the website (besides the obvious). In the meantime, send in your questions and requests for more information—what do you want to talk about, or learn more about?
I have added a couple of pictures of myself in my newest Raquel Welch “Muse,” (color RL 12/22SS Cappuccino) and a picture of my new favorite, “Straight up with a Twist” in exactly the same color, just about dry on my wig stand. These are my go-to wigs, plus my “Real Deal” wig, but that picture seems to have vanished in the dark computer-vortex, but I hope to have that in a later blog.
I have included some further links/info on where to get the products I talked about.
Two views of my two favorites, just a different light, and angle show you the lovely color blending in these wigs. It is the very same Muse wig that I am wearing in the selfie. The angle in the selfie makes it look a bit puffy on top, but it really isn’t. I was just looking downward a bit. Better photos in the future, promise. I wanted to show you how pictures can be a bit deceiving. It is about the lighting and the camera. So that is why I advise looking at a lot of wig pictures and demos and on YouTube. It will save you from being disappointed in the color if you know what to expect.
Also, no two wigs are the same. Even hand-tied by the same craft-person, no two will be identical. Understanding all this helps us decide what is important to us. Is having the exact highlights in the exact place on that wig a dealbreaker for you? If you know upfront that there will always be some differences, you’ll be happier. Also, I have learned not to make snap judgments. I like to live with a wig a few days before I decide for sure it is not for me. I like to try it on several times a day and look at it in different lights, different rooms, outside, all to get a real picture of how it looks on me—that is the real reason to buy the wig you buy. How does it look on YOU?
Send in your questions and/or topics you’d like to know more about: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just note my name in the question and they will make sure that I get it.