Sara Duane

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WIGS

EVERYTHING YOU WILL EVER NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WIGS

Hair loss affects a huge number of people and many people wear wigs, hair systems or hair pieces of some description.

Wigs can often be viewed as a fun accessory, but for some, they are also an essential part of every day life. With thousands of different types to choose from and endless styles to consider, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about wigs.

This essential guide to wigs will demystify the jargon, fully explain your options and help us make the right decision about the best wigs for your needs. Understand the differences between human hair wigs and synthetic wigs, how we will choose a wig style and colour and what to expect at your consultation. Whether you need a wig for medical reasons, want to match the latest trends, or are just trying something different, this guide will make sure we choose the wig that is just right for you.

wigs

Whatever your reasons, whether cosmetic or medical, when you begin considering buying your first wig, the myriad of options and the jargon can feel very overwhelming. In this Ultimate Guide to Wigs, we will explain,

  • The different types of wigs.
  • How wigs are constructed.
  • The different materials wig caps are made from. 
  • The difference between human and synthetic hair.
  • What to consider when buying a wig for medical reasons.
  • How we choose the best wigs and the best style and colour for you.
  • The custom options available.
  • What to expect at your consultation. 
  • How to pull off wearing a wig.
  • How to take care of your wig.
  • How to book your appointment. 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF WIGS

When we think of the word “wigs”, for some, it conjures up images of a 1970’s comedy sketch, featuring a man wearing an unnatural looking toupee that slips off in public, causing huge embarrassment.

I’m thrilled to be able to say that the world of wigs and hair pieces has become a very different place over the past 50 years. 

Thanks to celebrities such as Gail Porter, Matt Lucas, Olivia Bentley and most recently, Jada Pinkett Smith, advocating for those with alopecia, hair loss is very much the subject of the moment. We as a society, are now realising that hair loss is not something to be laughed at or ridiculed and that wigs and hair pieces can be empowering accessories for both men and women alike.

Hair extensions, wigs, hair pieces and hair systems are becoming more and more mainstream, especially in the media. Celebrities such as the Kardashians are not only openly wearing extensions and wigs as but also endorsing their use as must have fashion accessories, the more this is happening, the less stigma is associated with wearing a hair piece of some description. Due to the increase in popularity of hair pieces and wigs, there are thousands of options available and the choice can be overwhelming, so let’s begin by explaining the different types of wigs and hair pieces on the market.  

HAIR TOPPERS AND ENHANCERS

Hair toppers and enhancers, also known as volumisers, half wigs or wiglets are small hair pieces that cover just the parting area of the head. 

A great way to disguise a thinning parting, the simplest way to attach a hair topper is using small clips. For those who don’t have enough hair to support the use of clips, enhancers can be adhered to the skin using hypoallergenic tapes.

Hair toppers and enhancers are made from a fabric base material, usually made from lace, silk or monofilament (a synthetic fabric) and the hair is then sewn or hand tied into the base. 

Hair Toppers and enhancers can be made using synthetic hair, human hair or a blend of both.

Human hair can be custom coloured to match your own hair perfectly, although synthetic options these days look just like human hair and require less styling and maintenance.

FULL CAP WIGS

Full cap wigs are the best option for those who have lost the majority of their hair through alopecia or as a result of chemotherapy. 

Like hair toppers and enhancers, full cap wigs are made from a fabric base material, usually made from lace, silk or monofilament (a synthetic fabric) or a combination of these fabrics and the hair in the parting area is then sewn or hand tied into the base. The length is usually made up of wefts (or strips) of hair that are sewn onto the base. 

Wigs can be made using synthetic hair, human hair or a blend of both.

HAIR PIECES AND EXTENSIONS

For those who need just partial coverage or wish to cover a specific area of hair loss, sometimes clip in hair extensions or temporary hair pieces can do the job. 

When placed carefully, these hair pieces give good coverage and can add length as well. Hair pieces are available as clip in pony tails, buns and 3/4 pieces that just side or clip into the natural hair. 

These hair pieces and clip in extensions are made using synthetic or human hair.

HAIR SYSTEMS & WIGS FOR MEN

For men with alopecia or who have lost their hair completely and want a hair piece that offers full scalp coverage, a well made, well constructed and professionally cut men’s wig will be the best option. 

Human hair wigs for men are made to be super snug and can look virtually undetectable when cut, styled and worn correctly.

Hair systems are a great, virtually undetectable way to disguise thinning on top. A little like a hair topper or enhancer, hair systems cover the top of the head and are blended into the natural hair on the back and sides.

Hair systems are constructed using a lace, monofilament or a thin PU base that acts like a second skin and are adhered to the skin using hypoallergenic adhesive or tapes and then professionally cut and into the natural hair at the back and sides.

HOW WIGS ARE MADE

There is a type of wig for virtually anyone who wants or needs one and they come in various different shapes, sizes, lengths, colours, textures and hair types. 

Wig construction can be a baffling business for a layperson trying to determine what they need. Wigs simply consist of two things, a base (or cap) and the hair itself. 

Wig bases, also known as caps are constructed using a variety of flexible materials that mould and fit the comfortably fit the head such as lace,  monofilament and polyurethane (PU). Elastic and clips are materials used in wig construction to secure the wig in place. 

The hair on the wig can be human hair or synthetic hair, also known as monoacrylic hair or fibre. 

WIG CAP MATERIALS

Lace is the most sheer, undetectable, delicate and the most expensive material used in wig cap construction. It is often used at the hair line and sometimes on the parting section of wigs and hair systems and enhancers, due to its almost undetectable nature. Lace front wigs are very popular with those who wish to wear the hair without any kind of fringe and want the most natural looking hairline.

Lace is fantastic base material for men’s hair systems due to it’s thin, breathable and virtually undetectable nature, however, it’s lack of durability makes it an expensive option. 

Monofilament, also known as mono, is a material that looks similar to lace due to its sheer appearance but its strong and breathable nature makes it an ideal material to be used on the parting section of wig caps. Hairs are hand tied into the mesh of the mono to mimic natural hair movement.

Mono is also used a s base material for men’s hair systems and ius more durable than lace but less durable that PU. 

Polyurethane, more commonly known as PU is often used to create tabs or areas of the wig cap that you can apply tape to if you wish to adhere the wig to the scalp. 

A PU surround can be combined with lace or mono for hair system bases. This allows easy and durable attachment at the edges whilst the lace or mono front creates a natural, inconspicuous parting and hairline. 

PU is also a popular material used as a full base on men’s hair systems and women’s enhancers so they can be fully adhered the to a shaved scalp, like a second skin.

On full wig caps, elastic strips are often used to create adjustable fastening straps at the nape of the wig and clips are used on toppers and enhancers to secure them to the natural hair. 

WIG CAP MATERIALS

MACHINE WEFTED WIGS

Machine wefted wigs, also known as capless wigs, open capped wigs or vented wigs are the most simple of the wig base designs. 

A popular choice, open capped wigs are made from strips of hair known as wefts. 

The wefts are sewn to a strip of elastic and spaced evenly across the wig base. This negates the need for a cloth cap base. 

The open wig base is vented and therefore, more breathable, lighter in weight and less expensive than closed cap options.

MONOFILAMENT WIGS

Monofilament wigs come in three varieties, monofilament top, monofilament part and monofilament crown.

Monofilament is often considered more comfortable for the wearer than a cloth cap design.

As these names suggest, this refers to wig caps where a particular section of the wig benefits from being made of a sheer fabric .

This enables the skin to show through the base material and the hair is hand tied into the base giving a very natural appearance.

HAND TIED WIGS

Hand tied wigs are constructed by sewing each individual strand of hair onto a mesh cap base using a hand knotting technique. 

These wigs are carefully hand made by quality craftspeople and can take up to 3 days to make. 

Hand knotting each strand enables the hair to move freely as if it were coming out of the scalp and a lower density of hair.

With no seams or wefts, this is by far the lightest and most comfortable option and perfect for those who have lost all of their natural hair. 

LACE FRONT WIGS

Lace front wigs are designed to give the most natural looking hair line and give the wearer the freedom to style their hair without a fringe.

The hair is hand knotted into the lace fabric to give natural movement and a natural result.

Lace front wigs are perfect for those who want to wear their hair off the face and do not want the join at the front of the wig to be visible.

The quality of the lace hairline does not make this the most cost effective option but is still a very popular choice. 

HUMAN Vs SYNTHETIC HAIR

There are two types of hair used to make wigs and hair pieces. Human hair and synthetic hair.

Human hair is hair that is collected and specially treated for the hair extension and wig market and looks, feels and behaves like your own hair. 

Synthetic hair is made from man made fibres that are engineered to look and feel like human hair. 

But which is better?

There is a common belief that human hair wigs are generally better than synthetic hair wigs because they are made of natural hair, but this is not always true. There are pros and cons to both hair types. 

HUMAN HAIR

PROS

✔️ Natural.

✔️ Looks, feels and behaves like your own hair.

✔️ Can be washed, styled, cut and treated like your own hair.

✔️ Can be custom coloured to your exact specification. 

✔️ Can be matched to the texture of your own hair.

CONS

❌ Expensive.

❌ Reacts to humidity, rain and wind like your own hair.

❌ Will require regular washing and styling, like your own hair,.

❌ Colour work will fade and need refreshing.

❌ Heavier than synthetic wigs of the same style and length.

SYNTHETIC HAIR

PROS

✔️ Inexpensive.

✔️ Easy care. Can be washed and left to dry naturally.

✔️ Style Memory. Synthetic wigs hold their style regardless of the weather.

✔️ Can be custom cut to desired length.

✔️ Wide variety of colours including natural and fashion colours. 

✔️ Natural looking. Despite being made of man made fibres, synthetic hair is engineered to look just like natural hair.

CONS

❌ Cheaper versions can have unnatural shine.

❌ Cannot be heat styled, blowdried straightened or curled.

❌ Does not last as long as human hair and typically needs replacing every 4-6 months.

❌ Recolouring is not recommended and hair colourants will not adhere to the fibres. 

❌ Longer styles can develop friction frizz which can make the hair knotty.  

which is better, HUMAN OR SYNTHETIC HAIR?

BUYING A WIG FOR MEDICAL REASONS

WIGS FOR ALOPECIA

When choosing a wig or a hairpiece, the line between affordability, durability and detectability is as thin as a hair itself and getting it right can be a balancing act. When you have Alopecia, your choice of wig is such an important decision. There’s a lot to consider and with so much information to digest, choosing your wig alone can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. Alopecia UK recommends consulting an experienced wig supplier like me, to help you choose your wig. 

 

WIGS FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Some cancer treatments can cause partial or full hair loss. Hair loss from cancer treatments can affect everyone differently. Chemotherapy is the treatment most likely to cause hair loss and you may choose to wear a wig to conceal your hair loss whilst undergoing cancer treatment. For those who feel like a wig is the right choice for them, having professional help can ensure you get the right advice and keep the anxiety and stress of getting the right wig for you, to a minimum. 

 

HOW I CAN HELP YOU TO CHOOSE THE BEST WIG

EXPERT CONSULTATION

By attending an expert consultation, we can discuss your lifestyle, budget and explain the pros and cons of each wig option. This ensures you save time and money by buying the best wig for your specific needs.

CUSTOM ORDERING

Bespoke hair systems can be made to order on request. Custom made pieces ensure that you can select every component of your wig including hair type, texture,. colour, direction and density.

WIG CAP SIZING

Choosing the correct cap size is very important. If your wig is too small or too big, then it won't fit comfortably. During your consultation, we will measure your head to ensure we are getting the correct cap size for you.

HAIR TYPE & COLOUR

Choosing between human hair or synthetic is an important decision. Whether you are looking to emulate your natural hair colour or opting for a fashion colour, professional advice on choosing your wig colour is essential to getting it right.

CORRECT LENGTH & STYLE

Making sure that you have a hair length and style that not only suits you, but is also manageable is essential to ensuring that your wig complements your lifestyle and is stress free. I can custom cut your wig to your specific requirements in salon.

EXPERT AFTERCARE

Having a wig stylist that can advise you on the best aftercare for your wig ensures you will get the very best lifespan out of your wig. Custom colouring and reconditioning treatments are also available for human hair wigs.

HOW TO PULL OFF WEARING A WIG

THE PERFECT FIT

Confidence when wearing a wig is all about comfort and fit. 

Making sure your wig fits correctly is the cardinal rule for pulling off wearing a wig. If your wig is too tight or too loose, it won’t fit to the scalp properly and won’t look natural.

Measuring the head correctly is key to buying the correct wig cap size and getting a perfect fit.

QUALITY HAIR

Whether you opt for human or synthetic hair, the quality of the hair is so important. Don’t be fooled into thinking that human hair is always better quality than synthetic hair or looks more natural. It is all about the quality of the product you purchase. 

Some poor quality or over processed human hair can also look very cheap, unnatural and be very difficult to manage. Equally, cheap, poor quality synthetic hair wigs tend to be unnaturally shiny.

 

LACE FRONTS AND HAIR DENSITY

If you like to wear your hair off your face, then you should seriously consider a wig with a lace front. Whilst a more expensive option, a lace front can be adhered to the skin and gives the appearance of a virtually undetectable, natural hair line. 

Also, consider the density of the hair in the wig. A heavy density of can make a difference to how natural it can look. The top or parting of the hair is a tell tale area and keeping the density light in this area gives a more natural look.

HOW TO WEAR A WIG

PREPARE YOUR HAIR

If you have no hair, ensure your scalp is clean and dry before applying your wig.

If you have short hair, pin the front of your hair back away from the face. You can use gel, mousse or hairspray to ensure your hair stays in place underneath your wig. 

If you have long hair, you want to fix your hair as flat to the head as possible. If you’re able to braid or cornrow your hair then this is perfect preparation for wearing a wig. Otherwise, slicking your hair back and when wrapping your hair around your head helps with a secure fit. 

APPLY YOUR WIG

Applying your wig for the first time may feel strange and may take a little practise. 

Always begin by placing the hairline in the correct position at the front and then roll it back over the crown and pull down at the nape until the cap feels snug to the head.

You may opt to wear a mesh wig cap or a velvet wig grip strap, which is a velvet band that you can wear like a hair band, underneath your wig to help secure your hair properly and prevent slippage. I also provide a selection of headwear and turbans by House of Christine.

 

SECURE YOUR WIG

Securing your wig properly will give you confidence that your wig is looking it’s best.

Depending on the construction of your wig cap, there will be a number of options for securing your wig. The most simple method is to use bobby pins or wig clips to secure it.

 With wig cap constructions that include PU bases or tabs, the use of wig tape and adhesive is popular choice, however where lace and mono is used in the cap construction, the build up, removal and cleaning of adhesives can be time consuming and detrimental to the lifespan of the wig.

HOW TO CARE FOR A WIG

WASHING YOUR WIG

If worn daily, wash your wig every 10-14 days, otherwise monthly washing is with professinal products is recommended.

Prior to washing your wig, ensure you use a gentle detangling brush to remove any knots or tangles. 

Using tepid water (not too hot or cold), saturate the hair and base of the wig with water. 

Massage the shampoo into the hair and the base using gentle movements, being careful not to tangle the hair in the process. Rinse thoroughly and repeat. 

Apply conditioner to the hair. If your wig is made of human hair, you may wish to leave the conditioner on for several minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Carefully towel dry the wig, being careful to use gentle movements and not cause any tangling of the hair.

STYLING YOUR WIG

How you style your wig will depend on the hair type and texture you have chosen. 

Human hair can be dried and styled as you would your own hair, however, excessive heat styling can damage the hair and reduce the lifespan of the wig. Always use a heat protective product when using flat or curling irons. 

Care must be taken when brushing human hair when it is wet, as this can cause breakage. Curly hair should never be brushed, detangle using only a wide tooth comb or your fingers.

If you’ve opted for a standard synthetic wig, then styling with any kind of heat (including a hairdryer) is a hard no. Place your wig on a wig stand to dry naturally. Some synthetic hair is specially treated and is heat resistant, however, excessive heat can also ruin this hair type so you must follow the manufacturers guidelines to avoid ruining your wig. 

Synthetic wigs have style memory which means that if washed and left to dry naturally, will return to its original style with no styling required. 

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