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Wigs are believed to have its start in ancient Egypt. Egyptians often removed all their hair to alleviate the extreme heat or stave off lice (yep), so wigs became a shield to protect scalps from burning. Then they graduated to a sign of social status. Eastern ancient civilizations used wigs more in a theatrical setting. The Middle Ages weren't a great time for wigs, but they came back in full force during the Renaissance when everyone cared about fashion again. Louis XIII of France really put them on the map when he started wearing wigs (that today we would refer to as very extra) to hide premature balding. And wigs were the trademark of elitist society in 18th century England.
Of course, African American women have been wearing wigs in various forms and fashions for centuries. A lot of higher-ups in the hair world attribute the return of wig mania to Beyonce. Professional wig stylist Shay Ashual told Vogue UK, "She made it OK to wear wigs openly, and created a demand for lace-front wigs."
Normally associated with actors in theater, lace-front wigs (as opposed to hard-front) are more realistic looking. The invention of high def cameras has certainly abetted the demand for real-looking wigs. Hadiiya Barbel, Wendy Williams' hairstylist and owner of Araya wig studio in NYC told Allure Magazine, "You can't get away with a sloppy hairline. A wig needs to look like it's growing out of the scalp and stay put." Barbel also points out that celebrities like Lady Gaga and Beyonce wearing wigs without trying to pretend they're not wigs has changed the game. She says, "Before, the perception was that if you were wearing a wig, it's because you had something to hide. Now the opposite is true. A wig is a form of self-expression. It's empowering."
While human hair might seem ideal because it's more realistic looking, it's more expensive and requires more maintenance. It basically has to be treated and styled as if it were real hair, but with even more care. In general, most experts recommend washing natural hair wigs in cold water with the frequency depending on how often you wear it. Air dry it on a towel and use heating tools very sparingly. If you are going to heat style it, definitely use a heat protectant like the NuMe Watch Me Werk first. And if you want to make sure you have plenty of options for styling the wig, check out our Octowand, which is a curling wand set with eight different interchangeable barrels.
Whereas synthetic hair essentially shows up ready to wear and tends to hold the style even after it's been cleaned. Drag Queen Jinkx Monsoon told Allure Magazine to wash a synthetic wig the way you would wash clothes, with plenty of fabric softener. Monsoon also says, "I prefer synthetics because they're more durable and easier to manage. I like wigs that are styled with little to no hair spray. This requires them to be set steamed into the correct styling so that you don't need tons of hair spray to pull it off." Essentially with synthetic hair, you pull it out of the box, and it's already got that perfect wave, curl or straightness. Using heat styling tools on synthetic wigs is generally not recommended.
Beauty blogger Amanda Ensing shares some of her tips for pulling off wigs in this tutorial. She notes that wigs with baby hairs make it look more realistic, as does adding a little powder to the hairline. The hair pulled under the wig cap should be as flat as possible.
If you're going to use wigs regularly, make sure you're cleansing and conditioning your hair regularly too since sweat and dirt can build up on the scalp with more wig use. Use a hydrating line like the NuMe White Truffle Shampoo and White Truffle Conditioner.
With lace-front wigs, you need to cut the lace with pinking shears, so it is more aligned with a real hairline. Blogger Monique Parent has a helpful demonstration in this wig application how-to video. Be patient because, like any new hairstyle, applying a wig, whether it's real or synthetic, takes practice!
Are you wigging out yet? You can finally try that bleach blonde blunt blob, without actually trying that bleach blonde blunt bob. Find us on Instagram at @NuMeStyle for more on hair trends and YouTube for more hair how-tos! Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter at NuMehair.com for hair tips and exclusive offers.
Author: Mary Patterson Broome