5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Wearing Wigs

I’ve been wearing wigs full-time for many years.  While I am so comfortable with this new lifestyle, I remember how intimidating wigs were when I first started this journey.  Wigs are an amazing tool in our beauty toolbox.  But unlike makeup, we didn’t learn tips and tricks for making wigs look realistic from our mothers or friends as we grew up.  Instead, for many, we start our wig journey at zero and most often on our own.  I know from experience how intimidating that can seem.

Wearing wigs is only intimidating because it’s not familiar.  Wigs are not as complicated, tricky, or taboo as I thought they would be.  In fact, over the years, I have learned many things that I wish someone had shared with me early on.

There May be Trial and Error

Consider a wig like a bathing suit.  Wigs come in different sizes and can vary from person to person.  I like this analogy because every single one of us has had that very vulnerable experience of trying on bathing suit after bathing suit, trying to find the one that fits comfortably and is also flattering.

While it’s rare to have a consultation for a bathing suit, when you’re shopping for wigs, I absolutely recommend doing a virtual consultation.  Many of us know what we want to look like in our wigs.  We want it to fit, we want a particular style, length, and color, and we want it to be comfortable. The problem is that we don’t understand the inventory options that might best fit our needs; that is where a consultation comes in.  Having a virtual consultation reduces the amount of trial and error because some of that trial happens just in conversation.

But if you buy wigs without a consultation, ensure you know your measurements!  Wigs, like clothing, have measurements.  Anytime I buy clothes online, I always check the size chart.  Even then, the measurements don’t always tell the whole story about how something will lay or if the cut will be flattering.  Wigs are the same way.  We want to buy wigs that are the right size for our head circumference and face shape.

I learned this the hard way early on in my wig journey; I’d buy wigs because they looked good in a stock photo.  I didn’t pay much attention to whether the wig was petite, average, or large-sized.  I also assumed that where the length fell on a stock photo model was where it would lay on me.  I didn’t realize that my face shape has measurements too, and I have a very long face!  I learned that it is also essential to look at the hair length measurements in product descriptions and compare that to your face dimensions.  A 12” wig is almost chin length for me because my face is very long.  On someone with different face dimensions, a 12” wig might be shoulder length.

And while we do our best to try to look at the dimensions, they aren’t always going to look the way we expect them to.  Like clothes, some wigs aren’t a good fit.  Having a retailer who accepts returns goes a long way to make this trial and error easier.

You Will Look Different

When I first put on Angie from Jon Renau, I immediately thought about returning it because it “didn’t feel like me.”  Today, it is one of my all-time favorite human hair wigs.  If a stranger saw me in this wig, they’d probably think highly of it.  But at first, it just felt like too much hair.

This is a normal thing we go through when we start our wig journey.  We spend so many years looking at ourselves in the mirror that we get used to seeing ourselves with hair looking a certain way or thinning.  When you put on a wig for the first time, your initial reaction might be that it is “too much hair.”  In reality, though, it could just be that you are not used to seeing yourself with average hair density.

It’s important in these moments to remember WHY you wanted to wear wigs.  Whether it is for your own personal style or thinning hair, either way, there was some element of your appearance that you wanted to be different.  Often, our first impression of a wig can be skewed because our frame of reference for our appearance is limited.  Before jumping to a conclusion on a wig, give yourself some time to get used to this new look.  Ask yourself what specifically about this wig feels off to you.  Then, take some time to play with it.  Be careful to not do anything to the wig that would void your warranty, and use these tips to see if you can address your concerns:

  • Gently shake the wig out of the box to wake up the fibers
  • Fluff it up, or smooth it down.
  • Correct the zig-zag part so it looks more realistic
If the issue is that the density or styling feels too “different,” try these tips:
  • Wear the wig for 15 minutes, then take it off for an hour or two.
  • The next time you put it on, wear it for 30 minutes before taking it off for an hour or two.
  • The third time you put it on, get a second opinion if you’re still unsure about it.
  • Post a photo in a wig-specific Facebook group, or call a friend who understands your wig journey.  Sometimes an impartial third party can give you feedback that is not influenced by the comfort of the familiar reflection you are used to seeing.

Nobody Cares if Your Hair is Real or Not

I remember being very concerned about other people’s opinions when I started wearing wigs.  It’s normal to be wary of our differences and how people will perceive them.  The truth is, however, that there is not much stigma around wig-wearing anymore.  Many of the celebrities whose hair we admire are actually wearing wigs.  Some of them are very proudly outspoken about their wig-wearing as a means to be transparent and promote body positivity.

Often, this fear of a stigma is because of our feelings about why we wear wigs.  Women who choose wigs for their style generally have fewer concerns over a stigma than women who wear wigs for hair loss.  Once I explored and accepted my hair loss, I became much more comfortable being open about my choice to wear a wig.  Hair loss is loss.  We grieve our hair, and it can be upsetting.  But it’s important to separate our own feelings of grief over our hair from others’ feelings about wigs.  What I found, personally, was that the “stigma” I was afraid of encountering was just me projecting my sadness over my hair loss onto other people.

In reality, nobody cares about whether or not my hair is natural.  My husband loves being able to have a chameleon wife.  Strangers who ask questions do so because they admire my hair and want a similar solution.  My family is overjoyed by the confidence and happiness these beauty tools have given me.  The overwhelming response from everyone who knows I wear wigs is very positive.

Don’t Limit Yourself

When I first started buying wigs, I bought wigs that looked like my bio hair.  I was getting very-low-density wigs that were similar to my hair color.  I was worried that other people would find a drastic change very shocking.  What happened for me was that each time I’d get these wigs, I would feel so disappointed.  One day, my husband looked at me and said, “You can have literally any hair in the world.  Why do you keep buying wigs that look like the hair you hate?”  It was an honest question that opened my eyes to the potential wigs can give us.

When looking for wigs, think about what you want to accomplish along your journey.  Your appearance is for no one else but yourself!  If you want to look a certain way, even if it is a drastic change, then do it!  Will people notice?  Probably.  But they would also see if you went to a salon for a major hair transformation.  Whether your hair transformation came from a box or not is irrelevant because sometimes we all need a change.  The great thing about wigs is that we can have that transformation in minutes.  We can even transform our look multiple times a day if we want.

Don’t Forget About the Maintenance

When I first started wearing wigs, I thought buying a human hair wig was the only way to get the most natural-looking wig.  Unfortunately, this assumption simply was not valid.  Today’s synthetic wigs are stunning and look as natural as human hair.  In fact, on my Instagram (@thewiggywoman), I have posted photos of a synthetic wig next to a picture of a human hair wig to see if people feel that human hair is superior.  Virtually every time, the synthetic wig is the one voted most natural-looking.

While the initial cost of a synthetic wig is cheaper than a human hair wig, a human hair wig will last much longer than a synthetic wig.  Ultimately, the overall cost of daily wig wearing is similar to the fiber styles.

What is very different is the maintenance.  A human hair wig, like bio hair, is sensitive to humidity and moisture.  Every time you wash a human hair wig, it needs restyled.  Your style will also be impacted if you get caught in the rain or humidity.  On the flip side, a synthetic wig is a much lower maintenance.  The styling on a synthetic wig is built into the fibers, so they are less likely to be impacted by humidity and moisture.  On a rainy day, your synthetic wig will spring right back into shape as it dries.  Synthetic hair is much more “wash and go.”

So, when buying a wig, consider how your wig is going to fit into your lifestyle.  Do you plan to change styles frequently and need something flexible?  If so, a human hair wig that can be easily curled and straightened would work nicely.  But, if you are someone who wants an easy low, maintenance way to have beautifully styled hair with little effort, a synthetic wig is for you!

Final Thoughts

Wig wearing may seem intimidating, but that is only because it is something new.  As you make your way through your wig journey, you’ll pick up tips and tricks along the way.  Just like we might cringe at our high school photos where we were just learning our personal style, it’s ok if your first wigs are a learning experience.  Give yourself the grace and compassion to find your way through the wig life, as only you can.  Once you’re there, you will find an amazing world where hair quickly becomes your new favorite accessory!