Introduction and Basics.

Who doesn't want beautiful hair? One way to get it is by wearing a wig. As you might have guessed, there is much to learn about wigs. Wigs are complicated. The good news is that it's unnecessary to know everything about them to buy one and look amazing in them. In this part, we talk about wig types and construction, focusing on the important stuff to keep it simple.

Types of Wigs

There are so many types of wigs that it is easy to become bewildered. Let's keep it simple. If you are a first-time wig buyer, then there are only a couple of big decisions you need to make:
  1. Synthetic hair vs. human hair wigs.
  2. Hard front vs. lace front wigs.

Synthetic hair vs. human hair

Human hair wigs are traditionally considered the best you can get. In the early days of synthetic wigs, there was no competition. Synthetic wigs looked awful and were less flexible than human hair wigs. Today, with the advances in the synthetics used in wigs, the decision is not as clear-cut. People who have seen my wigs up close and on cam think they are made from human hair, even though they are all synthetic. You can style good quality synthetic wigs with curlers, steam, hot rollers, or curling irons into any hairdo you want. Synthetic wigs can also be colored, although human hair retains an advantage here. Ignore anyone who tells you that you can't do any of this with synthetic wigs. For most people and all first-time wig purchasers, I recommend a good quality synthetic wig. They are cheaper, and I feel they are also easier to care for than human hair wigs.

Hard Front vs. Lace Front Wigs

There is an endless and growing list of wig classifications. None are official, and every wig maker and aficionado has their list. Let's keep it simple: The wig world, like Gaul, is divided into two parts: lace front wigs and everything else. Everything else we will call hard front wigs. Lace front wigs have the potential for the most realistic hairlines. Depending on their construction, they might also allow you more flexibility in styling, such as parting the hair anywhere you wish. They also tend to be a bit more expensive. Hard-front wigs are generally a bit cheaper, and because of the difficulty of creating a realistic hairline with this type of wig, they usually come with bangs.

Hard Front Wigs

One of my favorite wigs, which I still love to wear and which Dom de Luxury also loves, is a hard front. It is the long blond wig with the front bangs, which you can see in many of the pictures in my gallery. I mention this to show you that there is no reason to feel you are getting a second-rate look with a hard-front wig. Good hard-front wigs can look amazing. If you choose your hard front wig properly, you will get a good, solid wig that you will love to wear. Because hard front wigs are less delicate, you will also have an easier time learning how to care for them.

You can customize hard front wigs to a certain extent. For the long blond wig in my collection, I trimmed the bangs and have also sewn in a lot more hair to make it fuller and to give it some strands of color.

The basic construction of a hard front wig is some type of cap with a wefted construction. Anatomy of a hard front wig In this photo, you see the wig 'inside out' on an artificial head. A marks the cap, B shows one of the ear tabs, D is the back of the wig with the adjustable sizing tabs, and C points to the wefts. The wefts are the horizontal 'lines' attached to the ribbons. The ribbons are the thicker, vertical strips. They are elastic to let the wig easily conform to different head sizes.

The hair is sewn into the cap in patterns that imitate hair's natural growth. With cap designs like this, you are stuck with what the wig designer did. As long as you like it, this isn't the worst thing in the world.

Most of the variations in hard front wigs involve changes to the cap area. Some wigs have a fully wefted construction with no cap. The wefts continue to the top of the wig. That's rare. Some wigs have "skin caps," which are circular areas of cloth or rubber/plastic sewn into the surrounding cloth. In the case of the rubber caps, the hair is "punched" through the rubber, allowing you to do things like part the hair and change the styling more flexibly. It has the disadvantage of being hotter and less breathable.

Wig makers are very creative, so the list of variations is endless and growing. But once you understand the role the various types of construction play, you should be able to understand any wig you run across once you see it.

One important feature of wigs is the adjustable straps. The best type is hooks, which slide along a 'channel' in the edge of the wig and fasten to cloth fasteners. You can see these fasteners near the letter D in the photo if you look carefully. These are the best type, and everything else they use is worse. Some wigs have Velcro tabs. These are awful. Velcro and hair are natural enemies, and hair will attach with a vengeance to any Velcro in the vicinity. Almost worst than this is thin elastic 'strings.' These strings are worse than useless. They will stretch in response to humidity, so they will change during the period you wear your hair. They will eventually lose their elastic quality and become completely useless. Generally speaking, the better wigs use hooks so that you can use this as one of the indicators of wig quality. In any case, everything else being equal, avoid these types of wig adjusters.

Lace Front Wigs

Lace front wigs also have varying constructions. Anatomy of a lace front wig. As you can see in the photo, this wig has a mixed construction, with wefts in the back, a cloth cap, and a lace front (A). The advantage of a lace front wig is that the hair looks like it is growing out of your scalp. You aren't forced to use bangs to hide the front of the wig and can do more interesting styles with it. Depending on how far back the lace goes, you also have more flexibility for parting and styling the top of the wig.

This isn't the only type of lace front wig. Like hard fronts, lace fronts vary in construction. There are full lace wigs with no cap. You can do anything with these wigs that you can do with human hair, but they are more expensive and extremely delicate. Then there are the various combinations of lace and cap. As with hard fronts, the cap limits what you can do with styling, so if you have a particular style in mind, make sure the wig you are interested in will support that. For example, if you want a deep part on the right side of your hair, that may or may not be possible with a specific cap. The best wig vendors and makers usually display pictures of the wigs "inside out," as you see here, so you can see the cap and understand the wig before you buy it.

Everything about lace front wigs, from wearing them to caring for them, is more complicated than hard fronts. Lace fronts ship with extra lace, so you can customize the hairline. Most people don't customize the front of the wig and trim the lace before wearing it. Trimmed or not, the lace is very delicate. Never carry or pick up a wig by the lace alone; you might tear it. When you mount the wig on a block for styling, you must take special measures to protect it. It's a lot to take in, so I don't recommend lace front wigs for first-time wig wearers. But they are truly wonderful inventions, and as you gain experience, you will probably want to add some to your collection. You can get truly gorgeous looks with them.

Thanks for reading, and if you have something nice to say or a good idea or suggestion, feel free to write anytime!