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African Wigs 101: Wig Rules So Your Wigs Can Rule

When you decide to buy and wear wigs, you will come across the standard tips for how to be successful. However, there are so many more unspoken rules that rarely get mentioned.  

There are many tutorials online and tons of people sharing their own advice, but are these tips the right ones? Whether you’re wearing a wig because of hair loss, thin hair, or to create a new look, this is our best advice. 

First-time African-American wig-wearers will also find insightful information here to help wade through the process of buying and wearing a wig. Wearing a wig should feel comfortable and should be an exciting experience. Let’s dig into some straightforward advice and get you rocking your new look in no time.

black woman wearing black kinky, curly wig

How to wear a wig

We know that wigs are a great way to switch up how you wear your hair or deal with hair loss in style. There’s an amazing lift in confidence when you feel like the wig on your head looks great. With any luck, you’ll be able to coax those wigs out of the back of the closet in no time.

To prep your natural hair, you will need to secure your natural hair so there are no lumpy spots. Black women in particular need to take special care in protecting natural hair from breakage, as you learn how to properly wear a wig. Make sure all the hair is tucked away from your hairline, so nothing peeks out under your wig.

Regular Lace Versus Glueless Wigs

Let’s talk about the difference between regular lace front and glueless wigs. Glueless lace wigs need no glue to secure the wig during the wig installation. For most of these wigs, glueless wigs combs, and adjustable straps will do the job. 

Regular lace front wigs require the lace frontal closure to be placed close to your scalp with wig glue to secure to the head. Glueless wigs have gained in popularity because of the ease of removing the wigs without damaging the hairline, better known as “edges.”

In the spirit of protecting edges, let’s cover glue-free ways for keeping human hair wigs or synthetic wigs in place. One of the most important steps in wearing a wig is securing it correctly. No one wants to deal with wigs falling, sliding, or (eek!) blowing off on a gusty day. 

Favorite Options: 

  • Wig Grip Band: Adjustable and worn underneath the wig to prevent slippage
  • Wig Tape: Works best on bald heads and attaches to the inside of the wig
  • Wig Caps: Provides a protective barrier between your scalp and the wig
  • Wig Clips: The go-to option for those who know how to sew.

Read more to learn more about securing a wig and the options above.

black woman wearing a wig cap

Plucking

Some of the most popular tips for styling a synthetic or human hair wig revolve around plucking the wig’s part and styling the baby hairs. When you first purchase your lace wig, you will want to get rid of the excess hair around the hairline. Removing the dense hair around the edges is the key to a natural-looking wig. 

If you look at your natural hairline, you’ll see that the hairs aren’t all the same length. Similarly, look at the hairline of a freshly unpacked wig and notice the hairline runs evenly on all sides. For this step, you’ll want to grab a set of tweezers to pluck the extra hair away from the edges of the face.

plucking baby hairs with lace front wig

Baby Hair

On lace wigs, “baby hair” refers to the appearance of natural hair growth at the hairline. Treating the baby hairs maintains the most natural look and lets the wearer sweep hair away from the face without revealing they are wearing a wig. 

Follow the steps below and take your time.

  1. Cut the Lace – After unpacking your new lace front wig, trim the excess lace that hangs over the front of the wig. Cut about a quarter-inch of the lace from around the front and sides of the wig. Using a sharp pair of shears, carefully cut in long strokes, and please be patient. The best practice here is to cut in small sections to avoid cutting too much at once.
  2. Part the Hair – Use two large hair clips, separate the hair, and secure with each clip. Use a fine-toothed comb and a blow dryer to create a part on one side of your wig. Once the hair starts to dry, continue using the comb to fully create the part.
  3. Water the Baby Hair – “Baby hairs” need to be completely wet in order to style them. Keep a full spray bottle nearby to spray the hairline as you go. Once your baby hairs are wet, hold a section of your damp baby hair between your index and middle finger, about 2 inches from your hairline.

How to style a wig

Wigs can add flavor to your personal style, but styling a wig can be a struggle. To help, here’s the inside scoop on a range of techniques for everything from heat styling to safely dyeing wigs. In no time at all, you’ll be successfully styling gorgeous synthetic or human hair wigs at home.

Must-Have Wig Styling Products

When you begin your wig styling journey, start with these products:

  • Foam wig heads will give you the freedom to style from all sides of the wig head
  • Wide-tooth combs to help detangle and style your synthetic and human hair wigs
  • For synthetic wigs, use a stainless steel brush designed for wig fibers
  • Use a spray bottle with cool water to help make the wig easier to manipulate
  • Be sure to use wig sprays and mousse designed specifically for wig
Wig Brush

Synthetic Wigs

Heat settings are the enemy of the synthetic wig. Never use heat styling tools on wigs that aren’t 100% human hair or specifically created for heat. This means no flat irons, curling irons, or blow dryers. This level of heat can damage the wig’s fibers and destroy the wig.

Pro-Tip: If you regularly wear synthetic wigs, make a trip to the store to purchase a portable fabric steamer. Steaming refreshes the look and feel of the wig, adding more life to your favorite styles. You won’t regret it.

Human Hair Wigs

Heat styling tools are the best choice when styling human hair wigs. When using a flat iron or curling irons to style your human hair wig, be sure to use the lowest setting. You don’t want to burn the hair and ruin the style. Our blog has great info on styling with tips for using heat to curl and straighten human hair wigs.

Adding a Touch of Color to Your Wigs

When you want a touch of versatility, adding color to your wigs can be a temporary fix with flair. Depending on what type of wig is being colored, here is some advice for creating hues you can love.  

Synthetic Hair Wigs

Dyeing a synthetic wig is a unique process because this wig hair type doesn’t have the natural pigment that human hair does. This means regular hair dye won’t work. Wig lovers who want to refresh or switch up the color of their wigs DO have options though.

Fabric dye is a good option because it’s made for coloring synthetic materials. Once you’ve decided on your color, be sure to grab some old fabric or a towel to protect your table and floors from the dye. You will need hot water to pre-wet the wig and to activate the dye. Immerse your wig in the dye and mix.

Don’t forget your gloves! Check online for more tips for getting the best color effects for your synthetic wigs. Have fun and get ready to rock it!

An African-American woman wearing a short black and red ombre bob-style wig with a side part.

Human Hair Wigs

The process of adding hair dye to human hair wigs is similar to coloring natural hair. Just as much caution is required, so grab your checklist items:

Products needed:

  • Your favorite color hair dye
  •  Level 20 hair developer (standard)
  •  Wide-tooth comb
  •  Dye brush
  •  Bowl
  •  Gloves
  •  Hair Clips
  •  Towel
  •  Wig stand

Read more about coloring human hair wigs in our blog.

Wig Stand on table
Hair Color Supplies including wig stand, dye, gloves, and comb.
a bunch of wig clips

How to care for a wig

Synthetic wigs are an inexpensive way to change up your look from time to time.You can find them in a variety of textures, shapes, and colors to fit your unique tastes. However, unpacking a new wig can be very intimidating at first glance.

The main issue with synthetic wigs is the level of difficulty there is to make them look like natural hair. Luckily, we’re here to reveal some amazing (and some unbelievable) ways to make your wig look more real. 

Black woman wearing a wig

Tips For Making Your Wig Look Real

Universal rule: It doesn’t matter if your wig is synthetic or human, your wig has to fit the shape of your face. Vogue Magazine’s Jimmy Paul offered a very important point that is a great place to start. He offered: “You should look at the side, the back, and the front—you will know in a second if a wig is wrong.”

Every part of your head needs to be considered when choosing any wig. This includes your “baby hair” or edges, and the length and texture of the wig. When it comes to how to make a synthetic wig look like human hair—a little TLC and these awesome tips will have you joyfully styling those wigs!

A Fresh Wash and Few Shakes

Nothing makes a wig look more fake than that unnatural shine that you see when you first unpack your wig. A solid way to remove shine is to use a good dry wig shampoo. Spray liberally all over the wig to saturate the synthetic fiber in the wig. Avoid using a wig brush or a wide-tooth comb on your newly unveiled wig. 

Give it a few shakes to let the natural curl or wave pattern fall out. You can also hold it upside down to spray with dry shampoo. Now shake! Allow it to fully dry on a wig stand and you’re off to the races.

Wankaya Hinkson wearing Ashro Wig
Wankaya Hinkson wearing an Ashro Wig

How to Loosen and Relax a Wig

Our recommendation for getting that puffy look out of a synthetic wig is hot steam. If you own a professional or handheld steamer, steam your wig on the lowest setting, and lightly brush the hair. For a curly wig, style the hair in fabric or foam rollers, then steam for a few seconds to set. Make sure to completely air-dry the wig before removing the rollers.

Mannequin head modeling wig with rollers and a steamer

Now that you’re ready to re-style your synthetic wigs to make them look more natural, here are a few added suggestions to get you through:

  • Always wear a wig cap to keep your wig positioned smoothly.
  • Take your wig to a professional stylist for a great cut that fits your face well.
  • Avoid hot airbrushes and styling tools like flat irons.
  • For a pro-touch, see a stylist for a special cut 

These are the wig rules to help YOU rule when wearing your first wig – or your fifteenth! You’re all set to start your wig-loving journey. Be sure to check out our blog for more tips on getting the most out of any wig. Go forth and feel fabulous, queen!

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