Wigs are having a moment. From Vivica Fox, who has her own wig line, to Christina Hendricks and Lady Gaga, famous ladies are now changing up their hairstyles as often as an Oscars host changes outfits. Why? The commitment-free hairpieces are easier to use and more realistic than they once were.
Here, experts answer seven essential questions about wigs.
Q: What Are They Actually Made Out of?
There are two kinds of wigs: Human hair and synthetic hair. The natural hair is mainly sourced from India or Asia and costs significantly more than the faux version. But if you’re looking for something more affordable, opt for a synthetic wig that’s heat resistant, says Andrew DiSimone, wig expert and salon owner at HairPlaceNYC. That’s because if you’re cooking or open the oven door, the gust of heat could damage synthetic hair that’s not heat-resistant, he cautions.
Synthetic hair is also best for cuts that fall above your shoulders, like a bob, since the lengthier options can start to wear and fray if the man-made fibers rub against your shoulders.
Q: Who Can Benefit from Wearing a Wig?
Anyone, but for those experiencing medical hair loss, these hairpieces can be a saving grace. DiSimone, who has clients with alopecia and genetic hair loss or who are going through chemotherapy, explains that his salon sells wigs so real you can put them in pigtails and still have the part look natural.
Q: What Should You Know Before Buying a Wig?
Do your homework. Would you try a new restaurant before checking Yelp? Probably not—and the same goes for scanning reviews as you search for reputable wig retailers in your area. Also, ask about the return policy, says DiSimone. People don’t always know what the options are when they’re looking a wig, he says.
Q: How Much Do They Cost?
Before you commit to a hair accessory, consider the expense. While synthetic wigs can set you back anywhere from $5 to a couple hundred bucks, a natural wig can cost anywhere from $100 to $3,000.
Q: How Do You Take Care of a Wig?
To help faux fringe maintain its shape at night, experts recommend placing the hair on a wig form (much like a dress on a mannequin). Or if you’re traveling, take the wig, and turn it inside-out, says DiSimone. Then, grab the hair in a ponytail and flip it back inside the center of the wig and store it in a box. This trick ensures that the hair is protected from rubbing the inside of the box.
Maintaining a wig’s look and feel also requires a select stash of beauty tools. Since synthetic hair is a fiber, reach for Woolite shampoo in a pinch and Downy fabric softener as conditioner, says DiSimone. Keep a spray conditioner and a shine spray handy to restore the wig’s luster, which can fade or look dull easily. With human hair, moisturizing shampoos (like those with argan oil) and a silk protein conditioner will keep the natural hair soft and hydrated.
Q: How Do You Put on a Wig the Right Way?
The method of attachment is directly based on what’s going on under the hair accessory and how you can best keep it in place.
If you have hair: It’s best to tuck your real hair into a wig cap to flatten it out and create a smooth surface. For industrial-strength hold, DiSimone also drapes clients’ heads with a velour headband that has teeth in one direction and is smooth the other way to prevent the hair from sliding.
If you don’t have hair because of medical hair loss: Bonded wigs are best for this situation. Double-sided tape, which is similar to garment tape that sticks to skin, can also ensure the wig stays put on your scalp.
If your hair is starting to grow back: Sparse growth may mean you’re not up for the caps and bonding, so another option is to use little combs and clips. “They look like little barrette clips that open and then snap close, and it helps keep the wig in place,” says DiSimone.