10 Essential Tools for Styling and Caring for Wigs and Hairpieces
As a working stage performer, having the right hair is important to my bottom line. Since I have not been blessed with the thickest head of hair on the planet, I rely on hairpieces to make my hair stage worthy.
The way I choose to wear my hair for performances is with a hairpiece known as a 3/4 wig or fall. They are sometimes also called half-wigs or 3/4 hairpieces, as well.
Over the last 13 years of my performing career, I have gone through several of these hairpieces but I do try to care for them and preserve them the best I can so they last as long as humanly possible. I am proud to say that I can often make an inexpensive hairpiece last for hundreds of shows. I have also mastered (at least in my own mind) being able to style the wigs and my hair to make them undetectable to the audience and maybe even convince them that I was blessed with luscious, long, enviable hair. Keep reading to find out what my 10 essential tools for styling and caring for synthetic hairpieces are.
Before I start, I must tell you that I am not a wig professional and some of these tips could be looked down upon by professionals. These are just my personal tips and things that I use and do to keep my synthetic wigs and hairpieces looking great according to my own standards and needs.
1. Hot Rollers
Unless synthetic hair is deemed as being heat-safe, you don't want to go near it with a curling or straightening iron. However, in my experience, hot rollers work magic with your synthetic hairpieces, even the ones that aren't heat safe. After washing my wavy or straight hairpieces, I allow them to dry and then I use hot rollers. I allow the hot rollers stay in the wig until they cool completely, even overnight sometimes. When I remove them, I like to shake the wig out gently and separate the curls with my fingers. I find it adds smoothness, volume, and body to the synthetic hair that is loses through wash and wear.
2. Curling Irons
Curling and straightening irons can only be used on wigs that are stated as being heat-safe. Usually there is a tag or directions on a box that it comes in that will state this information along with the temperature that is safe to go up to. These tools will melt and singe wigs that are not heat-safe. Also, keep in mind that when you are wearing a 3/4 wig, you will have the front part of your own hair exposed. Depending on how you are styling your real hair, you will need one of these tools to style your own hair around the piece. If I am working with a hairpiece that is not heat-safe, I will style the front part of my hair with a curling/straightening iron before I put the hairpiece on so I don't risk touching the iron to the wig. I have done this before and damaged spots on top of my hairpiece.
3. Teasing Comb
A teasing comb comes in handy when it comes to preparing hair for attaching a hairpiece and also helping it to blend in seamlessly into your own hair. If you are adding a hairpiece or extensions to clean and/or fine hair, teasing will help in a couple of different ways. When attaching a hairpiece or clip-in extensions, if you tease the hair that the clips/combs are going to attach to, it will have a better hold on the hair and feel much more secure. Teasing the roots of the hair that is exposed when wearing a 3/4 wig will also help hide where the wig is attached to and that helps to make the hairpiece as undetectable as possible. Make friends with the teasing comb if you have not already and you will be much happier with how your hairpieces and extensions look and feel!
4. Straight Pins
Although I use a lot of regular bobby pins to help me with various hairstyles, the straight pin is what I prefer to attach the hairpieces to my hair. Most 3/4 wigs will come with combs and/or clips attached, but since I need my piece to stay on during rigorous shows, I use a few pins to secure them just a bit more and straight pins work like a charm. I prefer them over regular bobby pins for this purpose because of their design. You will ruin regular bobby pins by using them to hold in a hairpiece because they will spread. Since straight pins are already shaped to sit apart, they are designed well for this purpose.
5. Volumizing Powder
This is a product you may or may not have heard of. If you haven't, you are about the be amazed! There are powders available that you sprinkle on your hair, rub them in and they make your thicker! They are white powders but are undetectable in your hair. Various brands make them from Big, Sexy Hair to various drugstore brands, but my go to is Got2B Powder-Ful Volumizing Style Powder because it's the most affordable and I find it readily available. This amazing stuff comes in handy with wigs and hairpieces because you can avoid teasing your hair if you're afraid to cause damage and use this to help give the clips something to grab on to. Of course, the extra volume to your own hair doesn't hurt either!
6. Kenra Dry Oil Control Spray
Generally, regular hairspray and synthetic hair don't mix very well. Not to mention, synthetic fibers don't need hairspray the way our own hair needs it at times. It can even be harmful to wigs because you will to need to wash them way more often which creates more wear and tear. However, I have found that this spray, although it is not a spray specially made for wigs, works pretty well to help me break in a new wig or hairpiece and helps provide a little texture. It also doesn't seem to build up or hurt them in any way. It's also a fabulous spray for you own hair too!
7. Homemade Synthetic Hair Leave-in Conditioner
A good trick to revive synthetic wigs in between washes, especially curly or wavy, is to spray them with a homemade leave-in conditioner. Make it yourself using liquid fabric softener, cold water, and a spray bottle. It could not be easier! Just add equal parts of water and fabric softener to a spray bottle and shake it up.
8. Baby Shampoo & Liquid Fabric Softener
When it's time to wash my hairpieces, I actually prefer a little bit of baby shampoo in a tub of cool water versus special wig cleansers. After washing and rinsing, I then like to soak the hairpiece in cold water and a bit of liquid fabric softener. I often will let them soak for a little bit and then rinse and let dry. Soaking brand new hairpieces and wigs in a bit of fabric softener and water for a day or two is also believed to take out the excessive shine that makes a piece look fake and too "new."
9. Dry Conditioner
Another trick I use to keep my synthetics hairpieces looking great, is dry conditioner. After I wash, dry, and hot roll my 3/4 wigs, I like to give them a light spray of dry conditioner. I feel like it helps make them look and feel even softer and, for me, this finishes the process. Of course, this will make them smell great too and that's a plus!
10. Assorted Hair Accessories
When it comes to putting a 3/4 wig into your hair, accessories can and will be your best friend! I often use pretty barrettes, headbands, and clips to help blend the wig into my hair and add a touch of sparkle, especially for the stage. You can use clips and barrettes that have bling on them to really dress up your hairstyle or you can choose accessories that are more understated. I sometimes like to use a braided headband that closely matches my hair to hide the seam or a clip that adds a touch of class and polish.
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Extra reading and information!
Thank you so much for reading my article and I hope that you found this informative. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments section below and I will answer them and help the best I can.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jess B