Today, wigs are worn as prosthetics, for aesthetic reasons, or convenience. They are also made out of several different types of materials, and almost every kind of person could have a wig that would best represent their personality and specific needs.
The brilliance of wigs may make you think that they are a modern invention. But today, we will be the ones to break the news to you—wigs are not new at all! As you read through this article, we will be learning all about hair wigs and how to choose which one is best suited for you.
The Wig History
Wigs have actually been around for the longest time. In fact, the word wig has been a part of the English language since around the year 1675. Some anthropologists have mentioned the possibility that wigs may have existed since a hundred thousand years ago.
The most popular historical evidence of wigs is seen in ancient Egypt. Egyptians—who were mostly bald due to keeping themselves clean and comfortable under the blazing heat of the sun—used them to protect their heads from excessive sunlight.
Wigs then were also used as fashion statements and symbols of economic status, as only the wealthy were seen wearing them (usually made out of human hair, wool or fiber) while the poor opted to wear hats.
Wigs were also popular in ancient Greece. Aside from using them for fashion and personal statements, they were widely used in theatrical performances. Upon the arrival of the 16th century, wigs were used when head lice became a growing problem and more and more people opted to shave their heads.
Royalty was also fond of wearing hair wigs—including Queen Elizabeth I of England—who famously fashioned a curly, red hair wig—King Louis XIII of France and his son Louis XIV of France. Caesar wore one with a laurel wreath, as most of us are familiar with. Meanwhile, Nero and Hannibal used them to cover up and disguise themselves.
However, even while wigs have been around for ages, it was only in 1951 when an African American woman by the name of Christina Jenkins decided to patent the actual process of hair weaving. Around this time, wigs were made out of jute fibers and were mostly used for theatrical performances.
These hairpieces have also eventually made their way to become symbols of professions—including judges, the clergy, and doctors.
How the wig made?
Now, we will talk about the most complicated kind of wig making process—a 100% hand-tied human hair wig. This type of item sells for up to thousands of dollars when done professionally. The following six steps will show you the process:
1. The human hair strands are laid down on a surface in the same direction. Shorter hair strands, which measure less than three inches long, are separated from the rest of the hair. These strands are not used.
2. The remaining strands are tied together. The bundle of hair is now hand washed with warm, soapy water before being rinsed several times and dried by a towel and left in the open air. After cleansing, the hair can be permanently styled with curls or waves if preferred.
3. The foundation is created from fine-mesh silk netting. The pattern for the wig is positioned on a block, where springs are to be sewn into the foundation to hold it in place.
4. The hair strands are then knotted. The most common knot is the single knot, which resembles the knot used in creating latch-hook rugs. Knots are created throughout the wig, including the front edges.
5. After the initial knotting, the wig is now removed from the block and mounted on another soft block. Another batch of knotting is executed around the edges. The inside surface is now ironed to secure the knots.
6. The wig is ready for styling! To set the style, it is placed in a warm oven.
This is just an overview of the very complicated process of wig making so you can understand why hair wigs can be priced so high. Different wigs are created through different processes; some more complicated than others.
Synthetic Wigs vs. Human Hair Wigs
A common question about wigs is which type is most ideal. Well, we cannot really answer that question. What we can tell you is that synthetic hair wigs and human hair wigs offer very different things but are great in their own ways. It is important to understand each type if you are planning on buying one for yourself.
Human Hair Wigs
Human hair wigs are, obviously, very natural as they come from actual human hair. It would be nearly impossible for the makers of the synthetic kind to imitate the aesthetics, texture, and movement of real hair. The realistic feature of this type of wig is one of the main reasons why they are mostly more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.
Human hair wigs can generally be styled in the same way as you would with actual hair. They may be permed, rebonded, colored, or cut like real hair. However, as the hair in a human hair wig does not receive natural nutrients from the scalp, chemical processes may damage human hair wigs.
As there are different kinds of human hair in real life, there are also various types of human hair wigs to choose from. Usually, human hair wigs are classified as Chinese hair, Indian hair, Indonesian hair, and European hair. These types of hair generally have the most distinct features.
Chinese hair is mostly straight, thick and silky. Meanwhile, Indian hair is thinner and more textured. Indonesian hair, being a common type of hair, is usually the cheapest among all types. European hair is known to be the finest and most expensive.
Human hair wigs are mostly better in quality as compared to synthetic ones. However, there exist fake human hair versions, so you have to watch out for those. Authentic human hair wigs can last a year or more, even with daily use, as the natural nutrients of human hair are still embedded in the strands.
Usually, the less processed the human hair wigs are, the longer they last.
There are products specifically formulated for the human hair kind of wig. Do not think that because they are made out of human hair, they need the exact products you use on your actual hair.
Take note that human hair wigs are not attached to the scalp. Therefore, they do not receive the natural oils that would otherwise be received by the actual human hair. Because of this, more conditioning and hydration are required to maintain these wigs, as compared to how you would treat real hair.
Given these points, human hair wigs are also a lot more high-maintenance than synthetics, which is why some people prefer them.
While synthetic hair wigs are not created from actual human hair, technological advancements have drastically improved their synthetic quality.
Synthetic hair wigs have the advantage of being worn without having to be styled. There are materials and chemicals used in the creation of synthetic hair which make them effortlessly styled and in place most of the time.
However, since the style of synthetic hair wigs is practically predetermined, it is more difficult to style them differently. While there are a few techniques that can be used to style this particular type of wig, such as using heat, synthetic fibers are generally not the best materials to flex and stretch.
Synthetic hair wigs last around four to six months on average. However, if you prefer to purchase heat resistant variants, you will have to expect it to have a shorter life cycle as heat can still break the strands. Generally, heat resistant wigs last about two to three months.
How to Choose Your Wig
1. Understand the different types of wig caps
Unsurprisingly, wigs are constructed in various ways. First, there is the construction of the wig cap. A wig cap is the base of the hair wig, as it where the wig is created.
There are several different types of caps. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. Below are the basic types of wig caps:
a. Hand-Tied Monofilament Wig Cap
Also known as the 100% hand-knotted monofilament wig cap, the 100% hand-tied monofilament cap offers the most natural look among all other caps. Instead of the wide stretch lace usually seen in most wigs, the 100% hand-tied monofilament wig cap has a thinner stretch material that adapts to the shape of the user’s head.
As the name itself shows, 100% hand-tied monofilament wig caps are tied by hand. Compared to machine-tied materials, hand-tied caps are not as tightly sewn together which lets the hair strands move around.
This type of wig cap is also the softest—and therefore the most comfortable—as it uses a resilient and flexible stretch material. Those suffering from hair loss should ideally invest in wigs with this type of cap as it does not damage the scalp and the hair as much.
b. Monofilament Wig Cap
As mentioned in describing the 100% hand-tied monofilament wig cap, monofilament caps are really generally very natural looking. Not all monofilament wig caps are 100% hand-tied, but all of them are soft and ideal for sensitive scalps.
c. Lace Front Wig Caps
Hair wigs with lace front caps have hair strands tied to a sheer lace base. Usually, these hair strands are attached with glue or tape to the crown area of the head. This makes the wig tightly secured, allowing it to stay in place.
Once applied with glue, wigs with lace front caps can sit on the human head for weeks at a time.
The appearance of wigs with lace front caps gives a very natural look especially to the hairline, as most lace front caps include baby hair to hide the lace. Wearers of this type of wig can style their wigs away from their face and still make their hair look authentic.
d. Basic Wig Caps
The basic wig cap is the most common type among all others. Wigs with basic caps have hair sewn into them with a closed lace layer sitting on the crown part of the wig.
To hide the crown, the hairstyle of this type of wig is usually teased. Given this, hair wigs with basic caps are not the most realistic. However, if you are looking for an affordable wig, then this could be your best bet as the basic wig cap is the cheapest type of wig cap among all.
2. Know the size of your wig
Aside from knowing the types of wig caps most suitable for your needs, it is also important to know what size you should buy. Ideally, you should use a non-stretchable measuring device for this, such as a flexible metal measuring tape or an unstretched cloth tape measure.
To know what wig size is right for you, you must first measure the circumference of your head. Wrap the tape measure from the center of your forehead at the hairline area to behind your ears. Bring the tape measure down around the nape of your neck and then back up to the center of your forehead.
b. Forehead to Nape
After this, measure the forehead to the nape. From the center of the front of your hairline, bring the tape measure down to the nape of your neck. For bald people, measure about an inch above your brow bone down to an inch below the small bone around the bottom of your skull.
c. Ear to Ear
Next, measure the distance between your ears. Start measuring from about half an inch above the crease at the top of your ear. Bring the tape measure across the top of your head and end the measurement at the same point on the ear opposite from where you started measuring.
d. Temple to Temple
Finally, measure the distance between your temples. To do this, simply start measuring at one temple. Then, let the tape measure pass round the back of your head until it reaches the opposite temple.
Knowing The Different Wig Cap Sizes
Take note of these measurements and bring them with you whenever you shop for wigs. Wig cap sizes vary from brand to brand. To give you an overview, here is an example of the general measurements of wig capsizes:
- Circumference: 20 to 20.75 inches
- Ear to ear: 10.5 to 11 inches
- Front to nape: 12 to 12.75 inches
- Temple to temple: 12.5 to 13 inches
- Circumference: 20.75 to 21.5 inches
- Ear to ear: 11.5 to 11. 75 inches
- Front to nape: 13 to 13.5 inches
- Temple to temple: 13 to 13.5 inches
- Circumference: 22 to 22.5 inches
- Ear to ear: 12 to 12.5 inches
- Front to nape: 14 to 14.5 inches
- Temple to temple: 14 to 14.5 inches
- Circumference: 23 to 23.5 inches
- Ear to ear: 13 to 13.5 inches
- Front to nape: 14.75 to 15 inches
- Temple to temple: 15 to 15.5 inches
3. Determine the wig most suitable for your face shape
Not all hair wigs are flexible enough to style, which is why when you are considering purchasing one as an investment, you must also consider which hairstyle would suit you the most.
As with choosing what haircut to get, getting a wig also involves assessing which one is most suitable for your face. As you may know, different people have different types of face shapes, and different face shapes suit different types of hairstyles.
- The oval face shape
This is considered by many as the perfect face shape, as it is mostly proportional. This face shape looks good with almost every kind of hairstyle, which means people who have an oval face shape can get away with wearing any kind of hair wig with any length and texture.
- The round face shape
People with a round face shape have a wide hairline and full cheeks. Geometric hairstyles suit this type of face shape the most, as these add length to the face. Long, straight wigs may be considered.
- The square face shape
The square face shape is defined by a wide hairline and a wide jaw. As the face is angular, hairstyles should help the sides of the face to look narrower. Curly hair wigs and those with strands close to the face are most suitable for people with square face shape.
- The heart or diamond face shape
People with this face shape have wide foreheads that narrow down to their chins. Ideally, hairstyles should be able to hide the width of the forehead. Wigs with a lot of hair volume on the forehead would do the trick.
Also, like the square face shape, it would be ideal for people with a heart or diamond face shape to get wigs with strands that are close to the upper part of the face and full around the jaw area.
4. Being able to differentiate a good hair wig from a bad hair wig
At the earlier part of this article, we have touched upon the quality of each type of hair wig. However, we feel like knowing a good wig from a bad one is a very relevant topic to discuss, especially if you are one of those planning to buy a wig for the very first time. Now, we will be discussing a few points that may help you know a good wig from a bad wig.
- Consider the price
While an expensive price tag does not always translate to a high-quality product, and while the price of a wig most definitely should not be the main criterion in choosing one, most of the time, cheaper alternatives cannot really give you the same aesthetic as a pricier wig. We know that a five-dollar option is very tempting to buy, but you might want to consider a more reasonable price. Besides, buying a wig should be an investment, especially if you want to wear it more than once.
- Feel the wig
Literally, feel it!
If it obviously feels like plastic, then that wig would not make you the best-looking person out there. Take it from someone who has bought a long, wavy, blue wig for only a dollar (me!). It does not matter whether the wig is made out of synthetic hair or human hair.
Take note: quality wigs should feel like real hair.
- Try it on!
It may not be the most comfortable thing in the world to be stared at as you switch hairstyles in a snap, but trust us — seeing yourself in the wig makes a world of a difference.
Consult the salesmen around you as well and ask what they think of your new ‘do. For sure, they would be able to give a bit of constructive criticism and professional advice for a customer. Ask them to help you out as well in choosing the right fit for you.
- Check out wig customization
You might also want to consider having your wig customized. Many shops actually offer a customization service for you to be able to have the exact type of wig you want.
5. Knowing the wigs brands
Knowing the brands you are about to purchase from is very important, so you might as well do your research before going out to buy a wig.
While we cannot run down through each and every brand of hair wigs available on the market today, we could at least give you a few brands and online shops that have made noise in the wig industry.
- Jon Renau
Jon Renau has been around since 1984 and was founded by John and Stella Reynolds. The company claims to have become the world’s leading international manufacturer of wigs. Jon Renau offers an extensive selection that features numerous hair colors and hairstyles.
You may also check out Jon Renau for hair care products and hair accessories.
- Henry Margu
Henry Margu is a United States-based wig manufacturer and claims to be the most experienced in the whole country. The company has been around since 1951 and has served a number of international clients. However, Henry Margu does not sell directly to customers as it is only a manufacturer, but it has a wide presence in different shops.
- Ace Wigs
Ace Wigs is an internet business that has already gained a good reputation from numerous satisfied customers. They sell different renowned brands, including Amore Wigs, Bali Wigs, Christie Brinkley Wigs, Toni Brattin, Revlon Wigs, TressAllure Wigs, and Aspen Wigs. It is fairly easy to shop through this website as the products can be categorized by brands, cap sizes, lengths, and styles.
American singer and actress Raquel Welch founded her own line of wigs, which she later named HairUWear, in her attempt to empower women through beauty. Today, HairUWear is available in over 40 countries and sponsors the American Cancer Society where it has donated more than a hundred thousand hair wigs valued at $15 million.
How to Maintain Your Wigs
After the successful purchase of your very own wig, it is time to learn how to maintain it! We have mentioned that there are variants that could last for half a year, but that will not happen if you do not care for your wig as you should.
1. Know what the wig is made of
First of all, you have to know that maintaining human hair wigs is a whole different process as compared to maintaining the synthetic kind.
Synthetic hair wigs are more vulnerable and prone to melting and tangling. Most of the time, wigs come with care instructions attached to them, so you simply have to follow these instructions. If they do not, then ask the salesmen or sales ladies how you should care for your wig.
2. Invest in wig products
We have said it earlier—do invest in products for your hair wigs. Shampoos and conditioners for actual hair are not enough to maintain your wigs as they simply do not have the natural nutrients that real hair does.
Synthetic wig hair is usually more prone to damage when exposed to chemicals in regular shampoos and conditioners. These may lead to stressful tangles, if not ruin the wig completely.
3. Wash the wig
When washing your wig, soak it in the right shampoo and water. Comb it gently. Do not rub the wig as this may be too harsh a movement for it. Use warm water to rinse off the residue.
Detangle the wig before letting it dry. Brushes specially made for wigs are also available on the market.
4. Keep it away from heat
Do not use excessive products on your wig.
While some are resistant to hair products, some may get damaged because of hairspray, leave-on conditioners, curling irons, hair dryers and the like. Consult your retailer before applying any type of product on your wig. You could also opt to use heatless products to style them, such as manual curlers.
5. Avoid swimming or sleeping with the wig on
In addition to avoiding heat, water is also not the best partner of hair wigs.
While they are not that vulnerable to water, strands can often get tangled when you choose to swim or bathe with your wig on. Sleeping is another activity you may want to avoid when wearing your wig to prevent stressful knots and tangles as you move your head around.
6. Seek professional help for styling
It is often a safer option to bring your wig to professional hair stylists if you want to change up your hairdo. Cutting your wig is riskier than cutting your own hair, simply because it does not grow back.
Added to this, wigs take on different forms and features so you might need to use different techniques on different wigs. Be sure to consult hair stylists who specialize in wig styling — there are tons of them out there!
7. Store the wig safely
Furthermore, remember to keep your wigs in a safe place when you are not using them. If possible, cover your hair wigs properly as you store them to prevent getting them dusty.
Keep them in an upright position to avoid knots and tangles. You may put them up on a hook and cover them with a plastic cover or some kind of netting material. You may also opt to reuse the package it came with.
8. Take care of your hair
Finally, do not forget to take care of your actual hair. Even if you have a beautiful, silky wig to cover up your real hair, you have to remember to keep your real hair clean and free from dirt.
It would be easier and more comfortable to wear a hair wig with clean, moisturized and neat hair underneath it. Wearing wigs for long periods of time may damage your real hair, so make sure to be aware of your hair’s health. Some products could keep your hair healthy even when they are covered by a wig.
So what are you waiting for? With all the knowledge you have now, you are ready to get your first wig. The process of choosing, using, and caring for your wigs is an evolving experience. The more you use your experience, the more you learn about how to better navigate through life with it. It may seem daunting at first—maybe even too high maintenance—but proper care of your wig will translate to less hassle and frustration on the wearer’s part.
Hit your nearest wig store or browse for one online. While the Internet can offer you a myriad of options, it is still best to go out and try some wigs before buying. Each one brings with it a different sensation that you would not want to miss.