Wigs for your budget

Wigs can run from free to $5,000

Marcia Frellick

HealthKey contributor

October 14, 2009


The best wig for you looks natural, feels comfortable and is of high quality, but it also has to be right for your budget. Depending on length of the style, quality of materials and whether it's custom- or machine-made, wigs can cost anywhere from about $30 to a whopping $5,000 You could choose a wig made of synthetic or human hair, a hairpiece or bangs that clip under a hat or a free wig from organizations that help survivors in need.

Most women choose synthetic wigs, says breastcancer.org. They look good and feel good, need very little care, and they cost from $30-$500, much less than many human-hair wigs.

Take a look at some of these options:

TLC (Tender Loving Care, an American Cancer Society Web site) offers a wide range of affordable, synthetic wigs. Most are in the $40-$50 range. Some have a hand-tied crown and monofilament top made to look just like your own scalp and you can part them wherever you like. Those run about $155. tlcdirect.org.

A hairpiece peeking out from under a hat or scarf can give the illusion of hair without the annoyance and bulk of a wig. Most wig stores and cancer specialty shops stock a wide variety of bangs, side pieces and falls. At chemosavvy.com, find a selection of bangs for $15-$35.

The American Cancer Society and Breast Cancer Network of Strength are among the groups that operate wig banks where women in need can get them free. Check your local chapters.

Some tips on costs:

Check your health insurance to see whether it covers a "cranial prosthesis," the medical term for a wig, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute advises. Often you can get a prescription from a doctor. Keep all receipts.

Human hair wigs are the most expensive. Some real hair wigs mix human and animal hair which cuts the cost a bit.

European human hair is the most expensive because of its relative rarity and wide range of colors. European virgin hair--hair that hasn't been treated or colored--is the top of the line and a wig can cost as much as $5,000, says hairloss.com.

Keep in mind that although you may wear your wig almost every day, most women wear a wig for less than a year, so it doesn't have to last forever.

If you do buy a wig over the phone or Internet, check the return policy. You will know if it's right only after you try it on.

Don't pay a fee to have the Internet company style your wig for you, says Texas-based Headcovers Unlimited. The wigs come pre-styled from the manufacturers. Paying an extra $20 to $40 for this is a waste of money, the company says.

Your hospital's cancer center or your local breast cancer organizations may be able to recommend wig specialists in your area, says breastcancer.org.