Fake Hair, Don’t Care: A beginner's guide to wearing wigs

Header image from Mikki Galang Hair

Throughout history, hair has been considered our “crowning glory” - status symbol, fashion accessory, and beauty standard all rolled in (or up) into one glorious ‘do. But, let’s be honest: there’s only so much our natural follicles can do, so many have turned to the power of the hairpiece to make their desired statement.

The wig is as much a part of beauty and fashion history as makeup and heels, with just as much transformative power. Fake hair isn’t just for costumes or for coping with baldness; just like cosmetics, you can wear them as a form of self-expression or to transform yourself into whoever you wish. Whatever reason you may have, it’s pretty fun to play with hairpieces so let’s make sure your game leaves everyone else’s wigs snatched!

Choosing a wig

Wigs come in all conceivable shapes, sizes, and types - from dirt-cheap Shopee Halloween costume finds find to the intricate pieces worn onstage and onscreen. Generally speaking, however, you will encounter two types of wigs.

As the name suggests, the Wefted (non-lace) Cap Wig fits on your head just like a cap, and is secured by a garter or by adjustable straps. This is the sort of wig you usually find in department stores and on Shopee. It’s called “wefted” because of how the strands of hair (always synthetic) are sewn onto the cap. The most defining feature of this type of wig is the lack of a “scalp.”

Hair grows from just a single point in this wefted wig

Hair grows from just a single point in this wefted wig

On the other hand, the Lace-front Wig is usually more expensive than wefted cap wigs because they have “scalps” made of lace. The lace is prominently featured on the very front, allowing the wig to be glued down to the forehead. After gluing, you can simply cover and blend over the lace with foundation to create a seamless hairline. The result looks a lot more natural than cap wigs, especially since the lace base allows the wig to have an appearance of scalp. To make it look even more realistic, you can get a wig made from real human hair but it’s very expensive compared to synthetic strands.

Blink and this lace-front wig will convince you that I am Khaleesi

Blink and this lace-front wig will convince you that I am Khaleesi

Wefted wigs are pretty easy to find; apart from Shopee, I’ve seen department stores like Landmark or The SM Store carry the “Sathura” brand, which runs from the P500 to P1,000 range. You can find a wider variety of similarly priced options at Lynelle, plus they also carry the lace-front type wigs with prices that start P2,500.

For more fashion-forward styles, the online store of beauty influencer Mikki Galang is a favorite of mine! Mikki Galang Hair carries both lace- and non-lace wigs inspired by celebrities, fictional characters, and pop culture. I’ve purchased two so far and though they took a few weeks to arrive, they are definitely worth it!

Tip #1: If you are shopping for a wig to wear daily, as a substitute for your actual hair, it’s best to choose a style that isn’t completely straight. Slightly wavy strands have more movement and body, which help disguise the “unnatural” movement of synthetic hair.

My Mikki Galang wigs

My Mikki Galang wigs

Wearing a wig

Cartoons and films often show wigs being placed directly on one’s head, but the truth is this can be extremely uncomfortable and will prevent the wig from “sitting” right! That’s why wig caps (stretchy pieces of nylon mesh) are essential for keeping your real hair neatly under the cap and allowing any combs (such as those in lace-front wigs) to cling to your head securely.

Do I still need a wig cap if I have no hair? The answer is, yes! I actually asked a friend who lost her hair because of chemotherapy, and she explained that wig caps act as protective barrier between the bare scalp skin and the often itchy wig base. The mesh also provides the much-needed “grip” for the wig to secure itself to, since there’s no actual hair to provide friction. You can easily purchase these caps in department stores, or wherever you buy your wig from.

To put on a cap, simply slip the fabric around your neck and pull up and over the hair, like you would with garter headband. Then, pull the fabric into place over your hair, moving it around under the cap until it lies flat. Once you’ve got the cap on, it’s time to slide on your wig!

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If you’re putting on a good quality synthetic wig, you’ll usually find that it’s secured to a wig cap, which looks much like a hat with little bra strap-like adjustments on the inside. To put it on, simply align those adjustments (usually at the back of the wig) to cap at the base of your neck, then pull forward to secure the front to your scalp.

Peary wig

Peary wig

My “Peary” wig from Mikki Galang is a lace-front but I’m not in the habit of gluing. I tend to leave it as is since I’m satisfied with how it looks with the lace simply tucked away. If you prefer to glue your lace front, you can use lash glue then use (thick) foundation to blend it into your hairline!

Hannah wig

Hannah wig

This design comes with “false roots” that are supposed to match my natural hair so the lace is not so obvious, but I also have a lace-front wig that is entirely not my hair color. The blond “Hannah” wig is also from Mikki Galang. With pieces like this, the advantage of lace front is that you can alter the lace scalp to create the appearance of regrowth. For that grown-in effect that looks more “natural,” you can add a bit of black eyeshadow to the scalp parting of your lace-front wigs, allowing the hair to look more “realistic” when worn over your darker, natural hair.

Styling a wig

Some wigs don’t have a scalp or look bulky even with a wig cap on but you can easily remedy this with just a bit of wig styling! Whether you’re looking to make your wig fall more “naturally,” hiding the lack of scalp lines, or simply ensuring that your hairpiece stays on (especially essential if you have little or no natural hair to help with “grip”), hats and hair accessories can save the day. Headbands, bandanas, clips, and caps are indispensable to a wig-wearer, and can take a look from Halloween to haute couture.

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My Peary wig, though it has “natural looking” roots, suffers from having way too much hair (a good wig problem, but a problem nonetheless). I tend to wear it with caps or berets to make the wig look more natural and not too fluffy. Hats also help prevent the sides of my hairline from peeking through, and I feel more confident about my wig staying in place.

The addition of a hat can also save a really cheap, low-quality wig! I got this one from a random Facebook shop for less than P200 and I definitely got my money’s worth: it sheds incessantly and has a balding wig cap that clearly exposes the weaves underneath.

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With the addition of a beanie though, I’m able to secure this low-quality wig tight to my head as well as cover up the problematic shedding area. Doing this has prolonged the lifespan of the Halloween emergency buy meant to be used only once!

Tip #2: You’ll find that lower quality synthetic options will look shiny and obviously fake. To make cheap wig hair look more realistic, just spray it down with dry shampoo to get the “powdery” natural look of bleached strands!

Caring For Wigs

Wigs are surprisingly low maintenance, especially if you don’t use them that often. In general, it’s safe to store them in their provided wig bags, which come with wig nets to keep the hair from tangling or picking up too much static. If you choose to keep your wigs in wig bags, make sure they’re left lying perfectly flat to avoid messing up the shape of the hair, especially if you have a wavy or curly wig.

However, if you do plan to use them daily, you will need a wig form - a mannequin head or wire structure to store your wigs in a “hair-like” state. You can get these from wig supply stores like Lynelle, or online such as Shopee. Wig forms also ensure that it’s easier for you to brush out your wigs, as well as drying them when you decide to wash them.

Image via Look Magazine

Image via Look Magazine

Tip #3: Even if you wear a wig daily, you don’t need to and shouldn’t wash them too often. Unless you sweat a lot, wigs generally don’t need to be washed daily: once every week or two weeks will do! When you wash, you may use a specially-formulated wig shampoo for synthetic hair or conditioner, then let the wig dry on your wig form.

Wearing a wig can be a playful way to embrace a new look, but they also serve a deeper purpose of enabling wearers to feel more like themselves. As with any beauty tool, wigs have the power to help you gain confidence, project a desired image, or even transform into someone you wish to be, whether for something as casual as a Halloween party or a serious as a battling a medical condition.

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Regardless of why you choose to wear a hairpiece allow yourself to have fun! Given the power to choose what you want to look like, you don’t have to choose a style that looks “natural” or “believable”. To get the most out of your wig-wearing experience, embrace it as an “accessory”. Rock a hair color you’ve always wanted to have (see my blond obsession), or get several and switch them out to match every outfit change!

At the end of the day, you do you. Wear your wig with pride, because even if your hair isn’t real, if you love your look... well, there’s definitely nothing fake about that.

Photos by Maidz Caliwara