Halloween is officially in our rearview, but that doesn’t mean wigging out is off the table. Although women have always utilized wigs for everyday wear, I personally didn’t try it until earlier this year. It wasn’t until college that I discovered extensions, weaves and other forms of protective styling, so I’ve been admittedly hesitant to rock a one, simply because I had no idea how to do it.
And I’m not ashamed to also admit that the thought of a random person snatching it off gave me anxiety. In all honesty, it took a big chop for me to realize that hair is supposed to be fun, not stressful. How we choose to style our hair is often an extension of our personality, so as someone who thrives off spontaneity, I knew it was time to throw on a lacefront and live my best life.
My first wig is not for the wallflower. Latched and Hooked wigs, made by founder Tiffini Gatlin, are chemical-free, pre-curled and looped protective styles that are so realistic-looking, everyone was convinced I sat in a braiding salon for days to achieve my look.
The options go from super short to ultra long, and cover the spectrum of protective styling; crochet curls, bohemian twists and box braids, to name a few.
Because I thrive off doing the most, I opted for a waist-length, micro-twist wig from the Crown Collection and wore it everyday for a week. Besides being able to swing my hair back and forth once again, there are a slew of lessons I learned about how to care of it. If you want to venture into new hair territory, here are five things to keep in mind before taking the plunge.
Finding Your Match
According to Gatlin, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before wig shopping. The most important ones are: “How committed will I be to maintaining it?,” “Is it appropriate for the season?,” and “What’s my budget?” Set boundaries beforehand so you won’t drive yourself crazy with the endless number of options.
With that being said, choosing the best styles for your face shape also make the search easier. “A round face could consider a wig that is layered and cut relatively close the face will help make the face appear narrower,” says Gatlin. “Beachy waves or wispy curls can help soften the shape of a square face… Oval faces can wear just about any wig because there is no area on their face that is more dominant than the other.”
For heart-shaped faces, she recommends “a wig with bangs or hair that can be brought across the forehead to soften their widow peak or wide forehead.”
Expect to spend at least $100 on a good synthetic wig and if you’re looking online, steer clear of fraudulent retailers by reading customer testimonials. “The retailer should be able to provide pictures and testimony from past buyers. Social media is a great place to start,” says Gatlin.
Human vs. Synthetic
One of the biggest choices that wig wearers have to make is whether they want to own a human or synthetic ones. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with having both, but Gatlin says it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.
While a quality human hair wig won’t be cheap, and will require the same daily maintenance of your real hair and can react to weather (frizz, loss of curls), it’s also more versatile and tangle-free. On the contrary, a synthetic wig is usually more affordable and requires little to no maintenance. At the same time, you’re sacrificing versatility and will probably need to replace more often than a human one.
Both styles can be made into a lacefront, which is best described as a wig with a mesh hairline. Gatlin says, “The mesh or ‘lace’ should have neutral tone that will blend with the skin tone and looks invisible once applied to your hairline.”
Again, your choice is really a matter of preference and lifestyle, two things you should consider before buying. As someone who is constantly on-the-go and generally lazy with her hair routine, I fell in love with my micro-twist wig because I could throw it on and run out the door in no time.
Storage and Maintenance
Once you’ve bought your wig, it’s time to invest in the proper storage, whether it’s human or synthetic. According to Gatlin, a mannequin head or wig stand is your best bet, since it best maintains the interiority of the wig’s shape. Alternatively, you could also place it in a wig net and store until your next use.
Gatlin also says, “Most wigs should be washed of sweat, dust and dirt that may accumulate after normal wear…Human hair wigs can be washed and some synthetic wigs can be washed as well. There are 9 different types of synthetic fibers on the market, so it’s extremely important to read the instructions or go back to the brands website to find the care page for your particular wig.”
If you’re rocking a synthetic wig, like my waist-length twists, avoid putting any products on it to maintain longevity. For synthetic wigs and [Latched and Hooked] braided wigs, a customer would need to make sure the synthetic fiber being used can adapt to heat and at what temperature. Water tends to be the best when styling synthetic wigs.”
When a wig becomes tangled or matted, Gatlin recommends finger detangling, since “brushing or combing daily could be too aggressive,” causing your wig to shed. And once a wig starts to lose its natural movement, that’s a sign that you should re-invest in a new one. Alternatively, if you’d rather manipulate it into a new style, get examples of the look you desire first and consult with a professional stylist who can do the work for you.
During my week-long wig adventure, I had one just one complaint—it felt so tight! Although mine came equipped with an elastic band for added security (no wig snatching incidents!), my days would end with minor headaches that only ibuprofen could heal. Gatlin says this is pretty common and that you should always remove a wig if it’s pulling at your hairline.
“Unfortunately, all wigs are not one size fits all. Some wigs come with adjustable straps so you are able to fit the wig to your head,” she says. Relieve your temples by placing your wig on a mannequin head overnight. This will stretch and loosen the straps or elastic band, making it more comfortable overnight.
Wig caps are also another way to protect your edges and pulse points. Ones made of nylon are the most common and a godsend if your scalp is sensitive to synthetic materials. “Wig caps are optional,” says Gatlin. “If you are wearing a u-part wig or complete lace wig, you may not want to wear a cap as wearing one would take away from the natural-look of the wig. Consult your stylist or retailer for the best results.”
What are you waiting for? Trade in that winter hat for a winter wig, STAT!