photo courtesy of nappy.co
In the not too distant past, the protective styles of choice in the natural hair community were mini-twists and braids. As quality wigs have become more affordable and accessible, more and more naturals have elected to wear wigs as a protective style. Wearing a wig is a great way to experiment with different cuts, textures and hair colors. It’s a great way to allow your natural hair to recover from hair loss or as you try to maximize hair growth. Whatever your reason for wearing a wig, doing so should not come at the expense of your natural hair. It is not an excuse to ignore your natural hair and it can certainly do more harm than good if not applied and used correctly.
Wigs are the perfect protective style because they can, if you choose, completely cover your hair, which enhances the protection. But simply putting your hair away under a nice wig won’t help you make the most of the protective nature of the style. It is important to know how to prep your natural hair for wearing a wig and how to protect your natural hair while wearing the wig.
Choosing a Wig
Are you new to wigs? Are you just looking for a wig to wear occasionally on bad hair days or when you are pressed for time? If your answer is yes to any of those questions, a headband wig may be the wig for you. Headband wigs are perfect for people who want to take the wigs off once at home or people who are concerned about damaging their edges and or people who would like to avoid wig glues and adhesives.
Headband wigs have become super popular as they are easy to wear and easy to take on and off. The risk of damage to your edges is super low as long as you avoid styling your hair in a manner that puts stress on your edges. If you are the type to want to remove your wig when at home, you definitely need to get yourself a headband wig.
If you are a seasoned wig wearer or someone who is looking to commit to wearing a wig for more than a few hours at a time, then a lace front wig is the wig to consider. Lace front wigs are easy to wear, breathable, undetectable, versatile, comfortable, easy to style and offer a realistic and natural look so that it is not obvious you are wearing a wig. They are also reasonably priced and will last you for several months with proper care, making them a great investment.
Here are some tips you should incorporate into your hair care routine that will allow you to get the most out of the protective benefits of wearing wigs.
Wash Your Hair
Cleansing is the foundation of any hair care routine. Without an appropriate cleansing routine, product builds up, environmental debris accumulates and microbes thrive. If you are planning to wear your wig for a while, you should ensure your hair and scalp are thoroughly cleansed before you install your wig. Clean hair and scalp will allow you to properly moisturize your hair and scalp before the install and will also help to prevent the itching that can occur when the scalp is not clean. Unless you’ve used products that require sulfates to remove them from your hair, a sulfate free shampoo should always be your shampoo of choice. Sulfate free shampoos gently remove product buildup and dirt from the hair and scalp without over drying. Treasured Locks’ Nothing But Nature Shampoo with tea tree and peppermint essential oils is a great option because it is gentle on the hair and scalp, is PH balanced and will help keep itching at bay due to the tea tree and peppermint oils it contains.
Washing your hair before you start wearing your wig and at regular intervals after installing is very important. Continuously wearing a wig without washing the hair can cause the pores of your scalp to become clogged, bacteria to overgrow and itching to start. Remove your wig every two to three weeks to properly cleanse your hair and scalp and keep them healthy.
Moisturize Your Hair
Natural hair encompasses a wide variety of textures, but all these textures require moisture in order for the hair to thrive and look its best. Making sure to moisturize and seal the hair before styling for the wig and maintaining moisture as the days pass is important.
If you intend to take your wig off at home daily or every few days then you’ll have opportunities to remoisturize your hair as needed. However, when you secure your wigs with adhesives and keep your wig on for weeks at a time, moisturizing your hair every few days is not an option. This is where deep conditioning becomes essential. Though always important for natural hair, deep conditioning is especially important when you’ll be unable to remoisturize your hair every few days. It allows you to optimize the moisture level of your hair so that your hair will be able to go through the process of being hidden away in a protective style, without drying out.
It is also important to apply a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer after deep conditioning. You should then follow up with an oil or butter to seal the moisture in your hair. This will ensure that your hair stays moisturized for the entire time it is hidden away and will reduce the risk of breakage when you finally remove your wig and undo whatever hairstyle your hair was in beneath it.
Take care of your scalp
A healthy scalp and healthy hair go hand in hand and you really cannot have one without the other. A healthy scalp is a part of the foundation of healthy hair. This means keeping your scalp clean and free of product build up, dirt, debris and bacteria. Everyone’s scalp is different, some people have dry scalps and need to apply oil in order to prevent the itchiness that comes from their scalp being dry. Other people just need to keep their scalp clean and they’re fine. Scalp is skin and we should remember to love and take care of it as we do the skin on other areas of our body.
It isn’t unheard of for a scalp that is usually worry free to act up when you wear a wig since the scalp is not as well ventilated as it would be without a wig. The important thing is to pay attention to your scalp, keep it clean and moisturized and be proactive if you notice any changes in the behavior of your scalp when you wear a wig so that you can quickly make adjustments and give your scalp what it needs.
Protect your edges
We know a snug and secure fit is important in a wig, but a wig that is too tight is a recipe for disaster. A tight wig will not only result in headaches and discomfort but will also cause breakage and hair loss along the hairline. The right size wig will look natural, be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and save your edges.
Protecting your edges also means taking care to avoid tension on your hairline from styling your own hair and from the wig itself. If you opt to use adhesive or glue to install your wig, make sure it is not applied directly to your edges. If at all possible, avoid adhesives all together and use an alternate method of securing your wig, such as a silicone wig grip band.
Give your hair and scalp a break
Our hair and scalp aren’t meant to be constantly hidden away. Every now and again you should leave the wig off, let your hair hang loose and your scalp breathe. Constant stress and tension on the hair and scalp will inhibit hair health and hair growth, so give yourself a few days between installs or take your wig off when you’re at home and your hair and scalp will thank you.
Don’t forget your wig cap
A silk wig cap will help keep your hair protected and prevent the wig from creating tension and absorbing products from your hair. You definitely shouldn’t wear a wig without one.
Keep your hair dry while wearing a wig
Putting your wig on when your hair is still wet or damp is a big no-no. Damp hair is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi when covered and not properly ventilated so the hair can dry. Wearing a wig over damp hair will also result in an unpleasant odor so make sure your hair is completely dry before you put your wig on and if you get caught in the rain or your hair becomes wet while wearing your wig, take it off as soon as you can so that both your hair and wig can dry out and be properly ventilated.
Styling Your Hair under Your Wig
The appropriate hairstyle for your natural hair is an important part of ensuring your wigs lays well and looks natural. Cornrows and flat twists are ideal hairstyles to wear under wigs because they keep your hair flat, are quick and easy to do and will last for weeks and weeks at a time. Whichever style you choose, ensure that you aren’t creating any unnecessary tension on your hair both to prevent breakage and ensure your comfort.
Protective styling is a big deal in the natural hair community. Not just because it allows you to grow longer, stronger, healthier hair, but because it’s an opportunity to take a break from daily maintenance and styling of our hair. Having said this, protective styles, whether they involve wearing wigs or not, are not an excuse to ignore your hair and knowing how to protect your natural hair under a wig is key to successful protective styling.