Over the last few years, celebrities have begun to really embrace wigs as a regular part of their styling routines. From social media to the red carpet, it seems as though your favorite stars debut a new look every week. While wigs are nothing new, advancements in the beauty industry have made it possible for celebrity hairstylists to create wigs that look as though they grew right out of their client’s heads. The best thing about this new found interest in wigs is that it’s not just celebrities who benefit from the trend. Quality, affordable wigs are readily available now more than ever!
Everyone deserves to look red carpet flawless every day. In pursuit of that goal, we reached out to Stephanie Nolan, model-turned-owner and CEO of XOXO Virgin Hair to find out exactly how to make a wig look natural.
Choosing A Wig
The first step to making your wig looks natural is picking the right wig. There are several types of wigs on the market, but most people opt for a lace front wig, full lace wig, or a synthetic wig. Full lace wigs are constructed on a lace cap that covers your entire head, each human hair strand knotted to the cap. Synthetic wigs are crafted on a thicker mesh cap with synthetic hair knotted to it.
Lace front wigs are a combination of both styles. The front of the wig is constructed on a lace cap to give a the hairline a natural appearance, while the rest of the cap is made of the thicker mesh cap. Nolan recommends opting for a lace front or full lace wig made with human hair to achieve the most natural look.
While wigs made with synthetic hair are a an affordable option, Nolan says they don’t always appear realistic and typically have a very short lifespan. By contrast, a lace front or full lace wig can last up to a year when cared for properly.
Sizing A Wig
While wigs look great on everyone, they’re not a one-size-fits-all kind of product. Yes—wigs come in sizes and wearing a wig that is too small can be seriously uncomfortable. Furthermore, there’s nothing natural-looking about a wig that is too tight or too loose. Lucky for you, all you need to figure out your wig size is a measuring tape.
Before you start measuring, make sure you style your natural hair the same way you plan to wear it under your wig. Sometimes cornrows can slightly increase the circumference of your head, which means you’ll get an inaccurate measurement if you measure your head while your hair is not braided. Once your hair is braided, measure your hair at least three times to make sure your measurements are consistent.
“If you measure in between sizes, like a shoe, order the next size up,” Nolan says.
Now that you’ve purchased the perfect wig, you need to prepare your actual hair for the protective style.
“One of the best ways to create a visibly undetectable wig foundation is to cornrow your hair straight back, feeding each cornrow into the next one, then putting on a flesh-toned wig cap to mimic the look of your scalp,” Nolan explains. “If you are a woman or man with longer hair, this method allows you to create a flat base, which allows a proper fit for a wig.”
If you have very short hair, you can skip the braids altogether—the only decision you need to make is whether or not you want to wear a wig cap. While Nolan recommends her clients purchase wig caps, they’re not always necessary. The wig cap covers your hair and creates a flesh-toned based for your wig to sit upon. That way when you part your hair to style it, the part looks like your skin and not your hair poking through the wig.
If you’d rather not wear a wig cap but don’t want your hair to be visible through the added hair, Nolan has an insider tip just for you.
“Applying foundation to the inside of your wig is a quick and easy way to tint the lace to match your skin color and cover up the knots on the lace,” Nolan says. “Less is best in this case. Apply with a densely packed foundation brush, and use a blow dryer or natural air to dry afterward, time permitting.”
If you’ve followed Nolan’s advice so far, you should have a pretty natural looking wig. Although sometimes it’s a bit tricky to make the hairline of your wig appear as natural as your own. If your hairline still looks bit artificial, the wig guru’s got just the thing to fix it: plucking. Plucking is when you use a tweezer to remove some of the strands of hair to decrease the density of the hairline. Many wigs are extremely dense but if your hair is not naturally very thick, it can create an artificial look.
“If your natural hair has a thicker density, less hair should be plucked away. Plucking too much hair away will cause your natural, densely packed hair to show thru the lace, making the unit not as undetectable as it should be. If you have a naturally thinner density at the hairline, be sure not to pluck too much away.”
If plucking sounds like more labor than you signed up for, don’t worry, Nolan and several other brands sell lace front wig pieces with pre-plucked hairlines—giving you a natural look without having to do any of the work!
Now that you know how to slay a natural-looking wig, you can debut a new hairdo every day. Don’t be surprised when your friends want in on your secret!