In my dream world, searching for and ordering a wig online takes no time and when it arrives, I can place it on my head and walk out the door without having to style or make adjustments. I’ve yet to make that a reality, despite my somewhat expert knowledge and the number of options out there. Plus, I know I’m not the only one who can’t stop making those obvious, but all-too-common wig mistakes that keep me from truly flourishing.
However, since I’m revamping every part of my beauty routine, it’s an ideal time to go back to basics and finally address the snafus I’m unnecessarily attached to. Jane Harris, founder of The Virgin Hair Fantasy, is all too familiar with them. As a wig authority with years of experience and a line of units that will leave you stunned and impressed, she has a front-row seat to all of the rookie mistakes and thankfully, a quick fix for each of them.
Ahead, the most common wig mistakes and her advice for, well, doing the opposite.
Not Shopping Smart
The mantra “quality over quantity” always applies to wig shopping. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping online or walking into a beauty supply store—you get what you pay for. Skimping on quality is one of the most frequent mistakes spotted by Harris. She recommends thinking of your purchase in terms of how often you plan to actually wear it.
“Research the brand and check out reviews of satisfied customers before buying. Are they helpful, how’s the customer service? Are they using some other brand’s photos to advertise goods?,” she adds. “Beware—if they can’t use their own photos, you might get something entirely different than you originally thought.”
Unless the customizing process is being left to a professional, chances are you use tweezers to pluck out a more realistic-looking hair part. However, when you don’t take your time, disaster awaits. Getting too overzealous (which eventually causes the balding of your wig) is another, all-too-common mistake Harris frequently sees.
“Go slow when plucking the hairline yourself,” she suggests. “Pluck just a few hairs at a time, then look at the hairline to determine if you should keep going. Use sharp, pointed tip tweezers.”
Going Overboard With Glue
Harris also sees too many wig wearers going overboard with the wig glue or worse–using glues and adhesives not meant for wigs or the skin, period. In the end, you’re only left with damaged edges.
“Use only wig glue when securing wigs to the hairline. Avoid areas with hair,” she says. “Test a small patch of skin on the inside of your elbow for sensitivity.”
Even if you’re wearing a glueless wig, gentleness is key when putting it on. Far too often, excessive tugging and pulling put a lot of unnecessary tension on your head and if you’re installing a lace frontal, destroys the wig material, too.
“Be gentle when putting on your glueless unit. Apply the elastic to the back of the head first, then adjust the front of the wig,” Harris recommends.
Tangling While Cleansing
Roughing the hair up during a shampoo sesh may feel like a thorough cleansing method, but according to Harris, it leads to tangles more than anything. Instead, treat the hair as you would your own and also invest in moisturizing formulas.
“Wash your wig on a flat surface. Distribute the shampoo, and squeeze it down the length of the wig instead of scrunching the hair to lather,” she adds.
Nothing will test your patience more than an at-home haircut, but for some reason, we can’t seem to slow down instead of removing just a little hair at a time.
“Allow a hairstylist to cut your wig if you’re looking to achieve something specific,” says Harris. “If you plan to cut the wig yourself, put it on and cut your hair.”
Like your cleansing routine, styling products should be chosen and applied as if you’re working with your natural hair underneath. Another big no-no Harris frequently spots is wig wearers simply using too many styling products or an excessive amount of just one.
“Less is more. Use lightweight styling products to maintain body and a realistic look,” she says.
Too Much Heat
When it comes to synthetic hair, applying too much heat almost always leads to irreversible damage. Generally speaking, some, but not all synthetic wigs can be styled with heat, so read labels before purchasing! Alternatively, invest in a flat iron or other heat tools with multiple heat settings so you don’t have to always work with 450-degree temps.
Additionally, Harris says “some synthetic wigs require regular trims. Wear your wig sparingly to maintain its appearance.”
Unflattering Style Choices
Though it should be given, you’ll be surprised by how many wig wearers choose a trendy style that ultimately will gather dust because it doesn’t suit their head shape or personal style. Word to the wise—test-driving trends can be fun, but it isn’t always the ideal choice.
“Choose a style that flatters your face shape. Go with layers, and haircuts that look complementary,” says Harris.
The quickest and easiest way to cause your wig to lose its shape or the style you spent time on is by storing it in a drawer or bag. Instead, Harris recommends always storing your wig “on a foam head for wigs to maintain their shape.”
Complicated Dye Jobs
Finally, it can be tempting to give your wig a color makeover at home. However, Harris advises leaving the complex hair dye processes to color professionals or a wig maker. Bleaching and highlights left in the hands of a newbie won’t end well (or look cute).
“If you dye it yourself, stick to non-ammonia based colors,” she adds. “Go with natural browns and dark colors. Use a rinse that will fade over time.”
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