Choosing a wig
For many cancer patients, hair loss is the most distressing and feared side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. If you don’t want anybody to know you’re losing your hair, wigs may be your answer.
We at HumanHairTraders specialise in high quality wigs and understand our customer needs. Through our experience and our clients requests we compiled these short guide lines to help you make an informed decision when choosing your wig. For any further or personalised assistance feel free to contact us, our professional team will be happy to help.
BEFORE YOU BUY
Ask Your Doctor
Not all treatments cause hair loss, so discuss the possibility with your doctor. If there is a high probability you will lose some of your hair, ask about steps you can take to help retain your hair.
Take a Short Cut
Even if you have always worn your hair long, getting a short haircut is one of the biggest breaks you can give yourself during treatment. Long hair, pulled down by gravity, is more likely to fall out sooner. Short hair masks initial hair loss better and makes less of a mess when it does fall out. Just remember to keep a good-sized lock of hair to use as a guide for wig shopping.
Give Yourself Options
Since wigs can be uncomfortable and troublesome, you probably won’t want to wear one everyday, all day. Head scarfs or turbans are best choices, fashionable and stylish.
WHERE TO BUY A WIG
You can purchase wigs online, but there’s no way to tell what you are really buying until it arrives at your door. If you do buy a wig over the Web, be sure you can return it for any reason.
Choosing a wig
A wide range of factors will influence your choice of wigs: human hair or synthetic; short or long; custom- or machine-made.
Synthetic vs. Human Hair
Most people prefer synthetic hair. It’s easier to maintain. Most synthetic wigs have their style moulded into them, but some can be reset. The advantage to style-able wigs is that you can change their look, just as with real hair. The disadvantage is that they have to be reset every time they’re washed. Synthetic hair also dries faster than real hair. Well-made special synthetic fibre can cost more than common synthetic fibre, but it looks, feels and even moves the way real hair does. Synthetic fibre cannot be treated like your own hair — they literally fry when exposed to heat. So no curling irons or blow dryers unless they are specifically designed for wigs. Hot rollers can be used, but only at low settings. And avoid exposing the wig to any intense heat sources such as an oven. The blast of heat will cause frizzing.
Wigs made of human hair will obviously look and feel more like your hair, but are expensive and far more time consuming. You can use heated appliances on them for touch-ups, but you’ll probably want to take them to a professional to be washed and styled. There are three types of real hair used in wigs: Vietnamese, Indian and European. Vietnamese hair has 12 cuticle layers and is the heaviest and least like the hair found on Western Europeans . Indian hair has 6 cuticle layers and is slightly finer and considered a mid-grade hair. European is the finest and most rare, and is priced accordingly. Since all these wigs are cleaned, stripped, dyed and possibly permed, it is often difficult to tell what type of hair a wig is made from by the color or the curl alone.
The way a wig is made affects how it looks just as much as, if not more than, the type of hair used. A quality synthetic wig is preferable to a poorly made human one. There are three different types of wig constructions: custom, hand-made and machine-made.
Machine-made wigs are the least expensive and most widely available. If you’ve ever worn a wig, this is probably the type you are familiar with. Wefts of hair are sewn together in a straight line, cut and assembled into a wig (when you look inside a machine-made wig you can see the lines). Many look extremely realistic as long as they are not parted, pulled back or otherwise altered. Most people find these wigs more comfortable because the construction creates vents that allow air to circulate to the scalp.
Hand-made wigs are expensive and look the most natural of the prefabricated choices because individual strands are knotted on to a skullcap rather than wefts of hair being sewn together. These wigs can be parted and styled with accessories because there is no chance the vents will be exposed. The hair also falls and moves more naturally.
Custom-made wigs are almost indistinguishable from natural hair. They are usually not a viable option for cancer patients, as they are extremely expensive and generally take more than two months to complete. Make sure that you have final approval on the choice of hair and style.
Some patients use this as a time to experiment with a number of different looks while others just want a wig that looks like their hair. Either way, a few adjustments can make your wig look as natural as possible.
Keep in mind that a wig cannot replicate the way your hair blends into your skin. Sure, it does in movies, but that requires a great deal of time, makeup and a team of trained professionals. For your purposes, bangs, or at least wisps of hair covering the hairline, will help your wig look more natural.
Even if you’re staying with the cut you currently have, try a slightly shorter wig. During treatment, many people loose weight and become slightly drawn. A shorter style can add fullness. Plus, short wigs have less hair to brush out at night and don’t tangle as easily.
Wigs which utilise wide headbands along the hairline are easy to wear and stylish, but you’re locked into wearing a headband. Such models are better for occasional use or as a backup.
Buying two wigs in different styles can make life easier than purchasing one very expensive wig. You won’t have to restyle your wig every time you want to put your hair up.
Whether you’re matching your own hair color or thinking about something different, try going a shade lighter. It will help offset skin tone changes that may occur during treatment. Always wanted to be a redhead? Go ahead, but stay close to your natural shade or lighter.
Make sure you get the color you want. Look at the wig outside in natural light. Look at the quality of color as much as depth. There’s more to brown than light, medium and dark; check out the highlights, low lights and underlying tones too.
In addition to the wig, you’ll need some supplies: a head form to store the wig on, a wire wig brush, hair nets, T-pins to hold the wig in place while brushing, low alcohol or wig hair spray, baby or wig shampoo, conditioner and, depending on the length, hair pins and rollers. All are available at the wig shop, a beauty supply retailer, through your hairdresser or online.
WEAR AND CARE
The wig shop or your hairdresser can demonstrate how to put your wig on properly by grasping it in the front and rolling it back over your head. It should fit securely but not be uncomfortably tight. Line up the points on the side of the wig in front of your ears, where a man’s sideburns start. Your ears should be pulled out over the wig, not tucked under.
As hair loss progresses, it may become difficult to tell where your natural hairline is. It’s easy to wind up wearing a wig too low or too high on your forehead. Keep a photo that shows your natural hairline to use as a guide.
Under any type of wig, you’ll need to wear a cap. These are soft, snug nylon or cotton coverings that protect your scalp, control your hair and keep the wig from slipping. Buy more caps than you think you will need; it’s good to have extras and rotate them regularly.
Your wig may need to be refitted after you loose your hair, particularly if you had long or thick hair when you purchased it. Most wigs have adjustable straps at the back to change the size; if the wig still feels loose, take it back to the store for adjustment.
All wigs require a certain amount of daily care but probably less than the time you’d spend on your own hair.
When you take off your wig, store it on a Styrofoam, wood or cloth-covered head form.
Smooth out the hair with a comb.
Pin short styles to set curls; roll or twist longer styles and secure with pins.
Lightly spray with wig spray if desired and let dry (synthetic wigs only).
Cover with hair net.
Washing and Setting
If worn regularly, you’ll want to wash and set your wig every week or two. Synthetic wigs can be washed and styled at home or taken to your hairstylist or wig shop. Human hair is more difficult to handle, so it’s best left to professionals.
Washing Synthetic wigs
Brush wig starting at ends and work up to the scalp with a wire wig brush.
Submerge wig in a bowl or sink of cool water and baby shampoo or soap for wigs. Gently swish.
Soak for five minutes.
Rinse in cool water.
If desired, condition hair with a product for wigs or a conditioner with lanolin (available from most wig makers).
Rinse again in cool water.
Gently squeeze out water — do not twist.
Blot dry with a towel.
Place wig on a tall, slender object like a hair spray can so air can circulate through the wig.
Allow to air-dry completely. Never brush a wet wig. (Only blow-dry if the manufacturer recommends it.)
Gently brush from ends to scalp with wig brush.
Most synthetic wigs have the style moulded into the hair, so simply control and emphasise the set with hot rollers set on medium or low (Never use curling irons or hair dryers on synthetic wigs).
Washing Human hair wigs
If worn regularly, you’ll want to wash your wig every week to feed the hair so it can retain its softness and natural shine.
Brush wig starting at ends and work up to the scalp with a wire wig brush.
Mix luke warm water with an all natural conditioning shampoo and pour over hair and rinse. Use of hair masque is essential.
Blow dry or let it dry naturally.
Place wig on a tall, slender object like a hair spray can,so air can circulate through the wig.
Allow to dry completely.
Never brush a wet wig. Blow dry or let it dry naturally.
Style as you wish.
Do not rub any oils or use leave in products as they will attract dirt and seal your hair cuticles which can lead to your wig hair drying up and tangling.