Caring for Your Wig

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About: I am a teacher outside of Boston and I love making cool stuff! Any prizes I'm lucky enough to win will go directly to my classroom (when appropriate) where I teach 6-12th grade English, Social Studies, and S...

I never thought I'd have any reason to give wig tips, but here we are. In 2018 I was diagnosed with Leukemia and quickly after I shaved my head. I didn't plan on getting a wig, but by November I was a little tired of being stared at. Plus, insurance would cover it, so I might as well give it a shot.

Here is some of the stuff I've learned along the way.

Pro tip: don't wear your wig while cooking.

Supplies:

Synthetic wig

Synthetic wig shampoo, condition, styler

Wide tooth comb

Wig stand

Towel

Step 1: Wig Types

One of the main types of wigs is made from synthetic materials. Synthetic wigs are available in heat-resistant materials that allow you to style them with heated tools. High quality synthetic wigs are very similar to human hair wigs, however they are not as versatile.

People generally like synthetic wigs because they are easier to maintain, have lower maintenance, are easier to wash and dry faster. They also hold their style longer, come pre-styled, and (possibly most important) are lighter and cooler to wear in the spring/summer.

Wigs are also available in human hair, but are much more expensive and can be harder to maintain, and need to be washed and restyled more often. That said, with proper care human hair wigs can last up to 3 years compared with synthetic wigs that only last a few months (depending on how much you wear them).

Step 2: Combing.

Whenever you style your hair, its a good idea to give it a quick combing.

Before washing your wig you want to brush it out and remove any possible tangles. Use a wide tooth comb (a regular comb/brush will damage the wig). Use short strokes to comb out the wig.

Step 3: Washing

Fill a sink with cold water and add 1-2 tsp of wig shampoo into the water (follow the directions for whatever kind of wig shampoo you have). Let the wig soak for a minute or two and then carefully run your fingers along the inside of the cap to remove oils, sweat, etc.

Drain the sink and rinse the wig under cold running water. Make sure to get all of the shampoo out.

Gently blot the wig with a towel.


Depending on the type of conditioner you have you're either going put a small amount in your hands and gently work through hair only (not the cap) and then rinse thoroughly under cold water. The conditioner I have is a spray leave-in. So after rinsing, I put it back on the wig stand and sprayed the conditioner over the hair and then left to dry.

Step 4: After Washing

This is what my synthetic wig looks like after it dried. Some synthetic wigs are made with certain fibers that have a memory quality, so even after washing they revert back to how they look pre-washing. You can see in these pics where the curls are, it's kind of cool because it's basically like a guide to show me where to curl and how to style the wig.

Step 5: Styling Tips

Some synthetic wigs are heat-friendly and can withstand heat between 240 to 350 degrees. How high your wig can tolerate depends on the manufacturer. I have a Raquel Welch wig and the info says its' ideal temperature 240.

Some recommend using steam or electric rollers for styling hair, I don't have that so I just use my curling iron or flat iron. Using a curling or flat iron on a wig is very similar to using it on your own hair. For a flat iron, work in small sections starting at the roots. For a curling iron wrap the hair around the iron and hold in place for about 10 seconds. Use clips to hold your curls in place while they set. Once the curls have cooled, the clips can be removed and you can style the wig.

It isn't recommended to use blow dryers, and you really don't need to--synthetic wigs dry quickly.

There are also special wig formulated styling products that will help keep your style in place.

It shouldn't have to be said, but just in case: wigs should be styled on their stand, not on your head.

If you don't want to deal with any of this, you can always bring it to a hair stylist and have your wig professionally styled.

Step 6: Hats Etc

This is one of the only photos I have of myself actually wearing my wig. Hat's generally are not recommended for wigs as they can cause damage, but for my school's recent graduation, I thought it was a nice touch.

I don't wear the wig very often, especially now that I've got an inch or two of hair that has grown in--which does make the wig MUCH more comfortable. I can generally tolerate about 4-5 hours before I start getting a headache.

A hat, scarf, or headband with the wig made it feel a lot more like real hair to me. Synthetic wigs are not as versatile as human hair, I can't put it in a pony tail (which was generally how I wore my real hair) but using hair adornments helped feel less like I was wearing a wig. It also felt less obvious, to me at least.

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