Types of Wigs
There are two types of wigs available on the market today, namely synthetic hair wigs and human hair wigs. Their different materials call for different care and maintenance.
Synthetic Hair Wigs
Synthetic hair wigs are manufactured from very fine plastic filaments. These wigs are generally not as high quality as human hair, but the stiffness of the synthetic hair allows it to hold styles with greater ease. However, the stiffness can also cause a slightly less natural look, as the synthetic hairs do not flow and move exactly as authentic hair does. Synthetic hair wigs require very little care, but they cannot be colored or styled easily, if at all, as they come pre-styled from their manufacturers. The lifespan of synthetic hair wigs is also less than that of human hair wigs, but synthetics are also less expensive.
Human Hair Wigs
Wigs made of authentic human hair are the highest quality hair pieces available. The real human hair from which they are made gives these wigs a very realistic appearance. It is almost impossible to tell if a woman is wearing a human hair wig, or if it is her own natural hair. Because the fibers of the wig are genuine human hair, the wig can be styled in any way the wearer chooses. The wig can be curled, straightened, and colored to suit a woman's tastes. These benefits of wearing human hair wigs come with the slight disadvantage of increased necessary care, along with a price increase as well. However, the lifespan of human hair wigs is also longer, as long as they are properly maintained.
Necessary Equipment for Washing Wigs
There is an assortment of equipment required in order to properly wash a wig. The products and tools are somewhat similar to those used for washing a woman's normal hair, but the procedure followed and precision used are significantly more important. From brushes to conditioners, each element is necessary in order to provide the utmost care when washing one's wig.
Wig brushes, which are typically designed especially for brushing the fibers on synthetic and human hair wigs, are made of special bristles to help avoid breakage and damage. These brushes are the most reliable when it comes to brushing wigs, and they reduce the possibility of tangling and knots. Wig brushes, however, can be replaced with simple wide-tooth combs, or even just the caretaker's fingers. Of course, these options do not produce as high quality results as a wig brush, but can still get the job done.
There are many types of wig shampoo available for use in washing wigs. Most wig shampoos will work sufficiently at cleaning the hair pieces. However, consumers should note that shampoos that are phosphate-free and sulfate-free provide even better care for wigs. The lack of sulfates and phosphates in particular is especially beneficial for wigs made of human hair. The lack of these chemicals helps to protect any color treatment done to human hair, allowing the color to stay brighter and last longer.
Conditioner for wigs is one of the most important products used throughout the entire washing process. Wash-out conditioner, which is sometimes replaced with a spray-on, leave-in conditioner, is a vital element in washing wigs, as it smoothes out tangles and knots in the fibers of both synthetic and human hair wigs. Conditioners should also be phosphate-free and sulphate-free to prolong a wig's lifespan.
Although not exactly involved in the actual washing process of a wig, wig stands are an essential piece of equipment when it comes to maintaining a wig. Wig stands can be substituted with tall, slender objects such as cans of hairspray, but the stands themselves are the most reliable pieces of equipment when it comes to drying. The stand keeps the wig in an upright position so that it can dry appropriately and maintain its shape.
Washing a Wig
The procedure for washing a wig made of either synthetic or human hair is a relatively simple one, but don't overlook the details. By taking the necessary steps, and paying careful attention to each aspect of the process, any woman can easily wash her wig.
Brushing the Wig
Brushing out the fibers of a wig is the first step involved in the washing process. Without brushing the wig, tangles and knots are only made worse once the wig is washed in water. Using a wig brush,, a wide-tooth comb, or simply one's fingers, gently brush out the wig's fibers. The most effective method for brushing is to begin at the tips of the hair, carefully combing in a downward motion. From there, slowly work up the hairs to the wig's roots, until the entire wig has been thoroughly brushed.
Bathing the wig in water, and then shampooing it, is the next step involved in washing a wig. A sink or bathtub should be filled with lukewarm water. Any temperature higher than that can damage the wig's fibers. Users should note that there is a slight, yet crucial, difference in shampooing synthetic hair wigs and human hair wigs.
Synthetic Hair Wigs
The hair piece should be submerged in the water, so that all of the hair, along with the wig cap, is completely wet. Once removed from the water, a small amount of wig shampoo,, roughly the size of a quarter, should be applied to the washer's hand. The shampoo should then be evenly distributed all the way from the roots to the tips. Another small dab of shampoo should also be spread inside the wig's cap. Lightly rub the shampoo along the inside of the wig's cap but avoid the wig's scalp, as this can loosen the knots holding the fibers in place. The wig can then be gently agitated under the water to ensure full distribution of the shampoo.
Human Hair Wigs
Contrary to the process involved in shampooing a synthetic hair wig, human hair wigs should never be submerged underwater. Doing so can cause tangling and matting within the hairs, which can be difficult to brush out later on. Because of this, a tub of water is not necessarily needed. Running water will suffice. Shampoo can be applied as described above for synthetic hair wigs. However, the wig should not be agitated underwater as, again, this can cause knotting within the hairs.
The rinsing aspect of washing a wig is particularly important. If not done correctly, the wig can become very tangled. Once the shampoo has been applied throughout the wig and its cap, it must be carefully rinsed with, preferably, cold water. The direction of the water flow is crucial in order to maintain a smooth and silky wig. The water should flow in the direction of the wig's hair, from root to tip. If water flows in any other direction, tangling can easily occur. The wig must be rinsed thoroughly, to ensure that no shampoo is left in the fibers. Buildup of leftover product can lead to a greasy, matted look.
Applying conditioner to the wig is relatively similar to applying conditioner to normal human hair. A small amount of product should be dolloped onto the washer's hand, and then distributed throughout the wig's fibers, from root to tip. For best results, wig conditioner should be massaged into small sections of hair. The product should then be rinsed from the fibers as described above. If a conditioning spray is used, it should be applied from at least 10 inches away from the wig. Be sure to spray it evenly over all the fibers. Conditioning sprays are typically leave-in products and do not need to be rinsed from the wig.
The physical washing process is not enough. The wig must still be dried in a specific manner in order for the entire procedure to effectively maintain the wig. Most importantly, avoid the use of hair dryers on synthetic hair wigs, as the heat can cause extreme damage, and could potentially ruin the entire wig. Synthetic hair wigs must always be air-dried in an upright position on top of a tall, slender object. Wig standsare the best drying mechanism, but, any tall, slender object can be used. A can of hairspray, for example, will suffice as well. Wigs should also never be brushed while wet, although the drying process can be sped up by blotting the hairpiece with a towel. Never wring the water out of a wig, and avoid drying it in direct sunlight, as this can cause the color to fade.