Styling and caring for your wig

Synthetic variety takes less effort; human-hair wigs can tolerate heat.

Marcia Frellick

HealthKey contributor

October 15, 2009


Once you've chosen between long or short, synthetic or natural, and selected a color and style, you'll need to know a few things about wearing it, washing it and styling it.


A wig is made with extra hair, according to Look Good …Feel Better, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and trimming and setting it for the first time is a job for a professional. Be sure to have the cut done while you're wearing so it best flatters your face. Natural looks involve bangs or wisps to obscure the hairline.

Make sure you position it correctly. TLC, (For Tender Loving Care, an ACS offshoot), recommends holding the wig at the sides, with the woven label in the back. Then place it at the middle of your forehead and slide it on from front to back. Then adjust the front of the cap so that it's about ¼-inch past your hairline.


Frequency of washing depends on air quality and humidity where you live. Generally wash it after 8-12 wearings, according to headcovers.com. Let the wig air-dry on a slender object like a shampoo bottle covered with a small towel. Styrofoam heads may stretch the cap.

TLC recommends this washing routine: Fill sink with cool water (human hair wigs should have lukewarm water) and drop in a capful of wig shampoo. It's important to use products made for wigs, TLC says. If the wig has picked up a strong odor such as smoke, drop in a teaspoon of baking soda. Gently swish the wig for 30 seconds, scrub the font of the wig cap. Soak for 15 minutes. Gently squeeze water out and leave it to dry overnight.

When the wig is entirely dry, and not before, restyle the wig gently, according to wigsalon.com.

Remember that each time you wash a human-hair wig, you may need to bring it back to the stylist for a professional reset.


Watch the heat here. You can reset human-hair wigs as often as real hair and touch-up using curling irons, blow dryers. Just be careful not to overheat. Heating elements will melt a synthetic wig, but curlers and clips are fine. Gently style with your fingertips, according to headcovers.com.

Use a wig brush, a wig comb, or your fingertips to style. Avoid using a brush designed for human hair. These brushes can create excessive tension and over-stretch the hair. Spiral curl and dreadlock wigs should not be combed or brushed in any way, according to wigs.com.

To avoid being wigless while yours is in the sink or drying, you may want to alternate with falls, bangs or other hairpieces. Or you may want a spare wig, maybe even set in a different style for versatility.