beginner's guide wigs
Images courtesy of Imaxtree. Design by Danielle Campbell.

Texture Talk: Your Pro-Approved Guide to the World of Wigs

A beginner's guide to the type of wigs on the market and how to properly care for them.

Welcome to Texture Talk, a weekly column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been chatting a lot about wigs in this series, knowing very well that there are likely many readers out there who have never dabbled much — or at all — in the wig game. So, we thought it would be helpful to serve up our very own Wig 101, a beginner’s guide to the most popular wigs styles out there and the biggest tips and tricks everyone should know.

To help us out, we tapped wig expert Jordan Rodney, a resident hairstylist at Toronto’s JouJou Hair Salon. Jordan, who is an avid wig wearer himself, is the go-to stylist of Cityline’s very own Tracy Moore. The biggest reason women come and sit in his chair? “Most of my clients that wear wigs have a busy lifestyle, and they want to eliminate that time in the morning to have to style their natural hair. They don’t want to worry about having to do a wash-n-go or twist outs,” he shares.

Here, Jordan breaks down the different wig styles and what to know when it comes to proper wig maintenance.

Types of Wigs

Synthetic vs. human hair wigs:

“Synthetic wigs are more of a quick fix, whereas virgin hair or real hair wigs are more of an investment. They have more longevity; depending on the quality of the hair, they can be worn for years.”

Ready-made wigs:

“These are full-headed wigs, and there’s designated style: the cut is already there. They’re something you can easily just throw on, but they don’t necessarily fit your own head or frame your own face. They’re not as personalized. You can find them at most beauty supply stores.”

Custom wigs:

“These wigs are customized to you: to your head size, to your hairline. Custom wigs are acquired through consultations with wig stylists where they take your measurements. You can also customize the colour and cut you desire. They’re more personal.”

Lace-front wigs:

“Lace-front wigs are typically made with human hair and these wigs have a piece of lace that sits along the hairline from ear to ear. The lace needs to be adhered down to blend in with your hairline to give the proper illusion of not having a wig on.”

beginner's guide wigs
Wig expert Jordan Rodney rocking one of his own creations.

Wig Maintenance

Wig glues and adhesives:

“Wig glues have definitely evolved over the past few years. Before, everyone used to use acrylic glues, but now there are water-based glues that are much easier to remove and much better for your skin, like Bold Hold and Ghost Bond. Some people also like using products like strong hold hairspray or gels for adhesives, which aren’t as long lasting. When using gels or hairsprays, you can simply use water as a remover, but keep in mind that these methods mean that they can also easily sweat off. Regular wig glues usually come with their own special remover.”

Longevity of wigs:

“The longevity of wigs is determined by 1): the quality of the hair (whether it’s human hair or synthetic) and 2): how you take care of it. Properly storing your wig when you’re not wearing it is key. I recommend storing them in a silk bag or pillowcase. You can display them on mannequins or hang them somewhere where they won’t get tangled. Some people store them in boxes. Also, things like combing or brushing your wig excessively can cause bald spots. And when you are combing or brushing, make sure you’re doing so from the ends to the roots — the same way you would your own natural hair. That way you’re avoiding ripping any hair out.”

Go-to products for wigs:

“I always recommend taking care of wigs the way you would your own hair with things like weekly washes and conditioning treatments using good products. With synthetic wigs, a lot of them are not designed to be shampooed because they’re more short-term styles. But if you are going to wash one, there are shampoos and conditioners made specifically for synthetic wigs.

The best products for human hair wigs, in my opinion, are from a line called Silicon Mix. These products add a silicone base over the strands (which is fine because it’s not your own hair) and that helps give life, movement and shine to the hair, plus has an added benefit of protecting your wig from heat. The products just help wigs last longer. I do recommend always using a proper heat protectant if you are doing any type of heat styling, though. A heat protectant from a drugstore should do, just make sure the formula makes sense with the texture of your wig: If you’re straightening the hair, you want to use that lighter heat protectant. For curly styles, go for a curl cream.”

Protecting your natural hair underneath:

“Braiding your own hair back is the best way to preserve your natural hair’s integrity, and we say that braids should be left in for no more than two months. Otherwise, your own hair will start to mat. And you should be doing things like treatments and hair trims in between on a regular schedule. I recommend also wearing a wig cap underneath wigs. Lastly, be vey mindful of moisturizing your braids and conditioning your scalp with oils. You need to really make sure that you’re moisturizing your hairline every time you take your wig off to avoid any friction and irritation. Wigs should be a protective style, not damaging to your hair. I get all my clients to use Evive Hair Rescue. I’ve been using it for years.”