Wigs are such a vital element for transition for many transgender women. Either your hair needs time to grow, you have experienced hair loss, or you just want a different look. A good quality wig can mean the difference between getting read and looking flawless. So here are a few things you need to know about wigs.
They Are Like 742 Different Kinds of Wigs
Okay, slight exaggeration. But there are quite a few different kinds and designations. You have Halloween or costume-style wigs, lace front, full lace, full cap, synthetic, human hair, or blend. Here is a video that breaks it down for you. Just keep in mind, wigs are one of those items where you get what you pay for. Yes, I have gotten lucky a few times and found cheaper costume-style wigs that work really well and look pretty good- as long as you are doing bangs and not showing where the hair on the skin meet. However, you WILL see the difference when you start looking at higher end wigs.
They Never Look Like They Do On the Package
Sure, they look great on the package label or in the ad. But it’s almost a certainty that the resemblance of your wig to the picture will be sketchy at best. Some, generally higher-end, will look pretty good with just a little shake when out of the package. However if you are getting cheaper wigs online, or at a costume shop, or stocking up at Halloween- you are going to need to do some work. Which leads us to our next topic.
One Size Fits Some
If your only experience is with costume wigs then you may not know anything about cap size. Costume wigs are made to fit the widest audience possible and so they tend towards big. With any wig beyond that, you will start running into cap sizes. It is vital that you get the right size. It should fit comfortable around your head and fully cover your hair from the nape of your neck to your temples. If it feels too small, or like it might slip WALK AWAY! Trust me when I say, you can not will a wig to fit.
You Are Going to Have to Learn to Style Your Hair
Odds are you have no clue how to do women’s hair styles, at least early on. But you will need to learn how. Costume-style wigs are going to give you the least flexibility on product and styling. You don’t want to use a dryer, except on a cool setting for a blow out. Straighteners and curling irons are a no-no as well. As you start moving up in quality you fill find that higher quality synthetics start allowing you to use these tools. Just keep in mind that with a synthetic, the most you should push it is 400 degree Fahrenheit. Human hair offers the most flexibiity, as you would expect.
You Will Need Some Accessories
It is amazing how many people never give a thought to what they may need to care for and maintain their wig. First of all, if you want your wig to last (and not become a tangled Tribble when your dog gets a hold of it- it happens.) then you are going to need a wig stand. This doesn’t have to be expensive. You can often get a Styrofoam head for cheap online and you can often find them cheap at costume shops. I also found a six pack of wig stands for just a couple of dollars, and they have worked very well for me.
Also, you are going to need a brush. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Here is one that gives you both a paddle brush and a pick-style brush for only $6.95 with free shipping. It is important to note that you want to avoid brushes for natural hair, especially with synthetic wigs. If you must use a regular brush, use one with rubber tips to avoid damaging the fibers.
Finally, you will want a wig cap. Some people hate them, but frankly they extend the life of your wig. They do that by absorbing some of the oils that the wig would collect, requiring more washings. And washing is the number one damage source for wigs.
Despite the damage it does, washing is vital to the care of your wig. You will want to wash your wig ever 10-12 wearings. More often if you use a lot of product in your hair. So try and keep product use to a minimum. You also should know that you don’t wash a synthetic wig like you do your own hair. It requires a gentle touch, and some specific products. You can find a full tutorial right here.
It’s Not a Hat
Your first and most important step in care for your wig is in how you put it on. You may not think about it, but not only can you damage a wig by putting it on incorrectly, you also greatly improve the look of the wig by putting it on the right way. Here is a video from the amazing Headcovers.com’s Youtube channel that gives a good primer.