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Wig-n It Right

By Janet Zeitoun

Wigs have been part of our culture and lifestyle for centuries. Wigs have held their place with various societies for several reasons, and not just for the lack of hair. Wigs have been worn by ancient civilizations dating back to the 16th century.

Egyptians wore wigs not only for adornment but for reasons of personal hygiene. They would shave their heads to ward off pests such as lice resulting in a wig being a valued necessity. Wigs were also used to create the illusion of having hair in addition to protecting scalps from the intense sun. The British, on the other hand, have trotted in and held high court wearing powdered wigs for centuries. Queen Elizabeth went from a canter to a prance with her elaborately English styled curled wigs. Wigs have evolved quite a bit over the last few centuries, but they are still worn today for some of the same reasons if not more.

Lace front wigs are popular amongst the entertainment industry and are becoming more sought after by people everywhere. These wigs are made with a sheer lace that is attached to the perimeter of the wig, most of the time only in the front. This type of wig creates the illusion of the hair coming straight from your hairline, giving a much more natural appearance. You can drastically change the shape of your face by changing the hairline, the very reason why they're used in motion pictures as well as the theatre. Distinct characters can be created simply by using this technique with lace front wigs.

Glues and tapes are used to secure the placement of the lace front wig. I'd steer away from this technique if you are wearing wigs on a regular basis. The glues and tape can have adverse effects on the skin as well as the solvents used to remove the glue if not used properly. Some people can be allergic to glues and tape, causing unnecessary problems when a plain wig not requiring any adhesives could work just as well.

Wigs have served me well during my career. I have used wigs to create new looks for my clients who are desiring a bold or immediate change for a role, or someone just wanting a fresh new look for the season. Over the many years, the progression of wigs have taken on very believable appearances, not just lace front wigs. The quality of hair, color, density and fit all play an important role in wearing a wig properly. One of these elements missing could result in not having the best look.

The fit of the wig is crucial. I can't count the amount of times that I have seen wigs worn that aren't properly fitted. You could get away with sacrificing the quality of hair, and having a good fit rather than the reverse. Wearing a wig to sport a short hairstyle screams for a good fit, otherwise all you're doing is mimicking a bad toupee. Let us be honest, we have all witnessed this scenario, and I bet to say more than once.

To get the ultimate fit, your head is measured and a mold is created from the measurements taken. Your hairline is drawn onto the mold to give the wig designers exact detail of your hairline pattern. This is an essential phase when designing a believable, natural looking wig and the reason why custom wigs are so pricey. It is the attention to detail. I have worked with wigs from a price point of under a hundred dollars to $12,000. You don't have to spend 12k to get a great looking wig, but take note of these key points when choosing the best wig for your money.

There is a lot less elasticity or sometimes none at all in the foundation of a custom wig. The reason being is that it has been made just for you and you only. Whether your wig is custom or bought over the counter, make sure that the fit works for your head shape and size. We want to avoid a "now you see it, now you don't" incident at any cost. Trust me. I have learned the hard way.

The quality of hair used in a wig will make a substantial difference in the style that you want to achieve. There are numerous hair textures to select from including Russian, Indian, Asian, Italian, European, relaxed, etc.

Human hair that hasn't had chemicals applied and the cuticle is still intact is called "Remy hair." This choice of hair will be a bit pricey, but will also have more versatility if a color change is needed. With synthetic wigs, you usually are stuck with what you bought in regards to color. There are ways to dye synthetic wigs, but it can be tricky and I wouldn't suggest attempting to do so. It would be well advised to make sure you choose the color that you want when purchasing anything less than human hair. Some human hair wigs can give you a problem with a color change too. You don't always know for sure what has been done to the color of the wig before you buy it. In some cases, trying to change to a color other than going darker could be a problem, and ruin the quality of the hair. More often than not, retailers will suggest that you don't change the color of the wig, because they can't guarantee the hair quality after dying the wig, and do not want to be responsible for the results of your efforts.

Creating a proper foundation to attach the wig to is of the upmost important. Sometimes it takes more than a wig cap to accomplish a smooth, flat effect that allows the wig to have the shape of perfection. Wrapping your hair and braiding are a couple methods of achieving the right foundation, unless your hair is extremely short. If that is the case, sometimes only a wig cap is necessary. Always protect your hair as much as possible while wearing wigs. It is easy for your hair to suffer damage if hair isn't properly prepped, especially if you wear wigs on a frequent basis.

I have taken you through some of the technical aspects of wearing a wig. My advice is to make the best choice that you can when selecting a wig that will suit your needs using my suggestions. We're all illusionists to some extent, whether it's through fashion, color trends, hair, makeup, or undergarments. It's the ones that do it well, that set themselves apart from others. Wigs are among the masters of illusion. Wigs can give you the leverage to reinvent, play, imagine, disguise or even flirt. And why not? That's what wigs were made for. Just do it well!

This post first appeared on the Huffington Post.


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