If you’ve been looking for a wig you’ll be acutely aware of the vast number of different wigs that are available.
You may have searched for other advice on what wigs to buy; a lot of advice on commercial or affiliated sites but it’s not always immediately obvious. So be extra careful because they will be looking to make money out of you by recommending a certain type of wig, which will often be the most expensive.
Human hair wigs are the most expensive and, if you are able to style hair (or know someone who can) then they will present the best possible look in terms of hair. However, they do take a lot of looking after and won’t be suitable for the majority of crossdressers. If you’re not good at styling or you just want something that you can use that takes the least amount of time then you’ll find a synthetic hair wig much more manageable.
Like most things, there are good and bad wigs with a vast range of prices ranging £35 to £100+. There some cheaper wigs that are actually quite good quality and, conversely, some poor quality, more expensive wigs. Unfortunately, the only way to really tell is to shop for wigs in person. You should check the caps of the wigs if you can; use your common sense – if the cap looks like it’s not constructed particularly well and / or the hair itself looks low quality you will find the wig will become frizzy and won’t keep its styling.
At the end of the day only you know if you’re happy with your look, so you deserve to have the best look you can afford. Just remember that a cheap wig will show, no matter how great your make-up or outfit.
So what should you be considering when you’re selecting a wig? Well, there will be your own personal preferences as well as the practicalities that will need to be considered. Your personal preferences for colour, length and style of hair might need to be revised in favour of the practical.
First up, study your face. What kind of shape is it? This will be a big factor in the kind of wig that will suit you.
Characteristics: longer than they are wide and have a jaw which is narrower than the cheekbones.
Style: since these faces are so proportional and lacking in dominant areas, you’ll look good with just about any hairstyle, length or texture.
Characteristics: wide hairline and jaw.
Style: Avoid straight lines. Square faces need height or waves on top and narrowness at the sides to break up the ‘squareness’. Choose a wig with a curly / wavy texture, maybe with some wisps of hair around the face. You should suit mid-length and more ‘shaggy’ styles.
Characteristics: wide hairline with a ‘fullness’ below the cheekbones, and a neck that appears short.
Style: Geometric’ or ‘linear’. These styles will break up the round appearance. You could add an illusion of height to your face by using a wig with long, wispy side areas that will make the cheeks look narrower. Comb the hair closer to the head on the side and at the neck.
Characteristics: narrow chin and forehead with wide cheekbones.
Style: Something with narrow sides and fullness at the chin. Bobs work very well for this shape. Avoid anything with height on top or volume on the sides. Use some fringe (bangs for our US friends) to cover the narrow forehead.
Characteristics: wide forehead and a narrower chin.
Style: Wigs that allow some hair to be brushed onto the forehead in order to disguise the width. Keep the hair close to the head at the eyes; make it slightly fuller around the jaw and below / in front of the earlobes.
Characteristics: small / narrow forehead with large ‘pouchy-appearing’ jawline
Style: Comb hair in a fashion that adds width from eye level through the crown of the head. Set and comb hair close to the head on the sides and at the nape.
Characteristics: very long and narrow bone structure, with a long, thin, neck.
Style: Use a fringe across the forehead by creating soft waves or curls in the crown and nape areas. This helps to create the illusion of an oval.
You’ll have to consider your budget. Buy what you can afford.
Top-of-the-range, human hair wigs can cost in the high hundreds of pounds. While they may be worth the money, you probably won’t have that type of cash lying around to spend on a wig.
The alternative synthetic wigs vary in price, depending mainly (but not always) upon their quality. You can get machine-made or hand-made synthetic wigs. The cheapest wigs will be machine-made, and these are not always bad quality. Modern machines can do a pretty good job.
Human hair has one big advantage: It looks and acts natural. You can style it just like you would your own hair. Its versatility is a major selling point. For example, if you want to add curls, straighten it or change colour, it’s easy to do.
Synthetic hair isn’t as versatile, but its durability is a lot better than the human hair wigs. If you’re the kind of person that likes to get out and about synthetic could be a better option because it will last longer.
Most wig suppliers have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ fit which will often be sufficient. We’re not all the same, though, so you may need to find a supplier that provides a variety of sizes. This obviously means that you’ll have to measure your head; measure from back to front and from ear to ear. Always measure from the natural hairline and at the back go to the top of your neck. This will give you a good idea of your heads’ measurement and you should always try a wig before buying it.
The colour of the wig is an area where you might need to compromise between personal and practical. It’s not advisable to buy a red-haired wig if your have black eyebrows. It won’t suit you.
Wigs come in many colours, often nowadays you will find wigs with a highlight to complement the basic colour.
Knowing your skin tone will help you in selection of wig colour. If your skin is pale then you should be looking for shades of brunette and red, or blonde if you’re after a sexy look.
If you have olive or medium skin, blonde wigs are best for a casual look. Brunette and red wigs will provide a more dramatic effect but remember to ensure your make-up should match your hair colour by using a darker eye-shadow around and a darker colour on your lips and cheeks.
If you go with a wig colour one or two shades lighter than your natural colour, you can soften your look, providing a more feminine appearance.
There are numerous websites that will allow you to upload a photo and ‘try on’ a number of different hair types in a virtual environment. Some of them are free to use but you won’t be able to save any of the looks you create unless you sign up. Try it for yourself by searching for ‘virtual makeover’.
- Fill a small hand sink or a large-sized bowl with approximately 2 quarts of luke-warm water. NEVER USE HOT WATER! (this will remove the pre-styled curl pattern built into a synthetic wig).
- Add approximately 2 ounces of Synthetic Hair Cleanser to the water and mix.
- Place your wig into the solution.
- Let it soak for a good 10 minutes. For the first minute swirl the wig gently around in the soapy solution to ensure that you get as much of the cleanser into the fibres. Note: If there is makeup along the front hairline, use an old toothbrush and hand soap to remove this before the main wash.
- After washing, rinse sink and fill up with clean cool water; longer, fuller wigs may need two rinses.
- Shake out the excess water and lay the hairpiece on a towel to air-dry naturally. Alternatively, if you have a wire head form place the wig on this because it will dry in its natural head shape. Don’t place it on a styrofoam head – air passes through a wire form.
- DO NOT brush your wig while it’s wet.
- NEVER use a hairdryer on a wig. The heat can damage synthetic hair!
- Use a Synthetic Hair Conditioner. Lightly spray onto your wig after each washing. For longer wigs use each time it’s worn. The resulting build-up of conditioner build up is good and will help synthetic hair last longer. It also eliminates static electricity and makes the fibres look ‘healthy’.