Your wig is an exciting investment in your work or hobby – here are a few tips to keep your wig or beard in tip top shape.

We also offer cleaning, maintenance and re-styling services for your wigs, hairpieces and facial hair and we encourage you to take advantage of this in order to keep your pieces in perfect shape.

 

How to store custom wigs and facial hair

Ideally, you want to store your wig or beard on a sturdy canvas block of a size comparable to that of your head. This keeps the shape of the wig and beard consistent and will also help the style to last longer.  We offer professional quality canvas head blocks for storing and styling wigs and canvas chin blocks for storing and styling facial hair. 

These blocks are ideal for both storage and styling or maintenance because of their weight and shape. The heft keeps them firmly on the wig clamp or stand while you work. Unlike styrofoam heads, canvas blocks are sized and shaped similarly to human heads, which makes styling much easier. 

Having said that, it’s fine to store a wig on a styrofoam head. While those heads a usually on the small side, they are perfectly adequate as a resting place for a wig and will help keep it in good shape. Many people choose to invest in one or two canvas blocks for styling their wigs and use styrofoam heads for basic storage. 

These plain ’round’ styrofoam heads are a better shape and size for storage than many of the the display heads with faces. 

When working with either a wig or beard, it’s very important to pin the piece securely to the above-mentioned block. We use a technique called “blocking” to snugly anchor the lace front to the head block without damaging it. This is a simple method of using a small piece of twill tape or ribbon as a protective barrier between the lace and the pins will increase the lifespan of your wig by years. Never put a pin directly into the lace of your wig or it can make a hole or tear the lace.

This video shows the correct way to block a lace front wig onto a canvas head block for cleaning, styling or storage.

Buy a Canvas Wig Block
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Buy a Canvas Chin Block
CANVAS CHIN BLOCK FOR STYLING FACIAL HAIR

Maintenance and Cleaning

It’s important to keep the hair in your wig in good shape, which means keeping it free from tangles. Keeping the hair in good order will also keep the style in place long and result in an overall better appearance.  It can be helpful to take photos of your wig when it is freshly styled. The photos will help you keep an eye on the wig’s overall style and health and give you a good reference point when doing maintenance on the wig.

Beware The Perils of Hat Hair 

If you wear a hat with your wig, one of the areas to keep an eye on will be the top section. No matter what direction your wig is tied, the hairs can start to form a part or split – while this might be ok from a style standpoint, it’s important to make sure the hair at the roots isn’t getting matted.

The photo to the left shows a hand-knotted wig before and after maintenance. In the before photo, the hair has gotten matted and is messy. The wig hairs are tied in going back from the hairline, and they have gotten pushed and distorted, which means the knots at the roots are being strained and the overall appearance isn’t as intended.

The good news is this is an easy problem to remedy. Simply block the wig down after each wearing and carefully comb the hair back into place. See the bottom photo for a comparison of the wig before and after combing. Try to take a look at this area of your wig each time you wear it to ensure the hair isn’t getting out of control.

Watch Your Nape

All but the shortest wigs will be prone to developing knots and rats along the underside at the nape without regular combing. Be sure to gently run a very wide toothed comb through the underside of your wig between wearings, regardless of the style. Doing this will help prevent tangles and will keep your wig in great shape.

Remember, it’s much easier to do a little bit of combing and maintenance after each wearing than to try and fix cumulative damage.

Helpful Hints for Keeping Your Style Intact 

When your piece is stored on a block, putting a simple hairnet over the pieces can help maintain the style. This is especially important for a longer piece, like a curly beard or a long wig – the net helps keep the weight of the hair from slowly pulling curl or wave out of the style. Hairnets are cheap and available in most beauty departments. They can generally be used many times. Hairnets are also useful if your wig has a bun or knot – simply tuck an “invisible” hairnet around the bun and pin into place. While not literally invisible, these nets are designed to be worn in daily life to help maintain a coiffure – and they can help keep your wig or hairpiece in perfect order.

Also, any time you can use hairpins or padding to help support the style of your wig, do so. Hair left hanging loosely or unsupported is hair that will start to droop and tangle – gravity and humidity are no friends of hair and subtly using pins to stabilize hair will preserve your styles.

Whenever the styled wig is not on your head, it should be on a head block. You can use twill tape to help stabilize and preserve styles between wearings, as seen in this photo to the right. The tape helps to keep the waves nicely defined between wearings.

 

Washing Your Wig

At times, it might be necessary to clean your wig or hair goods – wigs are at their most vulnerable when wet, so here are a few pointers to clean them safely.

For Machine-Made Wigs

  • Remove all hairpins or decorations from the wig.
  • Gently untangle wig using wide toothed comb if needed
  • Place wig in basin of warm water with a tablespoon of Woolite and a few drops of liquid fabric softener
  • Let the wig sit in the basin until the visible dirt is gone (hairspray, makeup, etc).
  • Remove the wig, rinse it gently under running water, lay it onto a towel and roll the towel up to squeeze water out.
  • Give the wig a good (but gentle!) shake to remove more water and put it onto a head block to dry.

For Hand-tied and/or Human Hair wigs

  • Remove all hairpins or styling props.
  • Gently remove tangles with a large toothed comb.
  • Hold the wig (at the top with hair hanging down) under a warm running tap to wet
  • Remove from tap, gently work shampoo through the wig, working in the direction the hair is tied
  • Rinse under warm running water, again holding the wig at the top
  • Repeat above step with light conditioner, then rinse again (the conditioner helps prevent tangles)
  • Gently squeeze the water out (human hair absorbs water, unlike synthetics, so you need to ring out the excess),
  • Lay the wig on a towel; roll it up in the towel to blot. You can let it sit in the towel for a few minutes
  • Pin the wig carefully to an appropriately sized head block, secure lace front with small straight pins and twill tape (the blocking process mentioned above)
  • Gently detangle the wig with a wide toothed comb, and let it dry.
  • Be careful not to stretch or strain the wig while it’s wet as you could distort or warp the piece, resulting in fitting issues.

 

Never soak a hand-tied piece as the knots can swell and loosen, which will cause them to untie and come loose from the foundation.

You can use any cleaning product on your human hair wig that you would use on your own hair (or even Woolite), there is no need to buy special wig shampoos.

While the wig or beard is still damp, it is a good time to very gently comb out any tangles with a large, wide-toothed comb. Make sure the wig is carefully and securely blocked on the storage head and work slowly in sections. If a snarl becomes persistent, a small amount of leave-in conditioner may help. If your wig or beard is combed regularly and is handled carefully, snarls should be at a minimum and the piece should only require a quick combing for smoothing and detangling after a shampoo. Never brush a wet wig, use only a wide toothed plastic comb.

 

While you can follow these tips to safely wash your own wig, we recommend sending your custom wigs and beards in for cleaning, much like you would send a good suit to the dry cleaners. This is especially true if your wig is custom dyed, made from blonde or white hair or especially delicate.

 

Stain and Adhesive Removal

For persistent stains on your wig or beard hair, put the piece carefully on the block or on a towel. Gently apply a little shampoo or Woolite on the area and let it soak. Check  on it periodically until the stain appears to be lessening, then rinse carefully. Do not soak the piece in water.

To clean adhesives from the lace front of a wig or beard, use 91% isopropyl alcohol. It is best to clean adhesives off as soon as possible as they are easier to remove when fresh.

  • Lay the lace edge on a thick towel that you do not mind staining or soiling.
  • Apply alcohol to the area of adhesive – you will need to work the lace in sections
  • Gently dab at the glue with a very soft rag, toothbrush or a shoe polish dauber – do not rub hard or scour the lace!
  • If this glue is resistant, try a second application of alcohol and another careful dab of the brush or dauber
  • If this is not sufficient to remove the adhesive, fill a very shallow dish with alcohol and lay the lace edge in it. Let it sit for a moment, then check to see if they glue has loosened. Repeat until the glue dissolves – you don’t want to soak the piece, you just want to saturate it for a moment at a time. Try to keep the hair out of the dish and only lay the lace in the alcohol. Jar lids are excellent for this.
  • Spirit gum will dissolve easily in most cases. Prosthetic Adhesive or Pros-Aide can take longer to loosen and are much easier to clean if dealt with immediately after removal. It’s always best to check any instructions the manufacturer has for the best practices for their product.
  • You might find it works well to keep a small spray bottle filled with alcohol to allow for careful spot cleaning of the lace.
  • Do not use commercially prepared spirit gum removers or other oil based removers on the lace – they can damage lace. They are intended for removing adhesive residue from your skin, and work great for this.

If your wig or beard gets adhesive in the hairs, spray gently with 91% rubbing alcohol and let sit. It may take a few tries, but this will slowly dissolve the glue and the residue can be combed or shampooed out.  You can also make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to the hair – let it sit for awhile and it will help dissolve the glue residues. Then rinse the hair under running water.

 

To remove makeup from lace or hair, apply a small amount of Woolite on the soiled spot. Let sit and check periodically until the makeup comes clean. Then rinse the hair under running water. Whenever possible, avoid using makeup of any kind on the skin that will be under the lace edges and do not apply makeup to the lace.

 

 Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I use curling irons or other heat tools on my wig?

A. Yes, if your wig or hair good is made from human hair or one of the newer synthetics designed for heat styling. Use a low temperature and be careful not to singe the hair. Wig hair is drier than the hair on your head, so be mindful of that when using heat tools – you may need to use extra conditioners or light weight leave-in conditioners for wigs that are frequently heat styled.

Q. How often should I wash my wig or hairpiece?

A. That depends on what you are using your piece for. A wig worn once in awhile or for short periods at a time probably does not need to be washed very often. Simply keeping it on a head in a box will keep it free from dust and debris. If you wear your piece often or in very warm conditions, it may require more frequent washing. If you use heavy styling products on it, your wig might need to be washed after nearly every wearing to prevent buildup on the hair.

Q. I washed my wig and it became very tangled. What should I do?

A. Place it onto a head block and pin it securely in place. Work in very small sections with a bottle of spray on conditioner (or make your own by diluting conditioner and water in a spray bottle) – saturate each section as your work and carefully use the comb and your fingers to separate out knots. Work from the bottom of the wig and the bottom of the hair. You can use clips to keep the combed out sections separated from the tangled sections. It may take time to completely detangle a wig, especially if it is curly, so be patient. You can divide the work into smaller sections as your time allows.

Q. The lace front on my wig has developed a tear. Is there anything that can be done to fix it?

A. It depends on the size and location of the tear. If it is near the edge, it is sometimes possible to simply cut the edge away. If it is near the hairline or in the foundation of the wig, it is often possible to patch the tear or hole. If this happens, we suggest you contact us and we’ll do everything we can to help you.

Q. How can I tell if my wig is human hair or synthetic?

A. There are a few cues that will tell you which fiber your wig is. Machine made wig might have a tag inside that will specify fiber and care instructions. Wigs without tags are trickier but one of the easiest ways to determine the fiber is to get a part of the wig wet. Synthetic hair doesn’t absorb water, so it will not stretch much and it will dry very quickly, and it will retain it’s basic shape, even while saturated. Human hair will soak up the water, hold the water much longer and will become slightly stretchy.

 

Most importantly, if you have questions about the care and upkeep of your wig, just ask! We’re always happy to answer your questions. Just email us.

 

You can also check out our Frequently Asked Questions section for more information.

 

Using Styling Products

  • Generally, you can use any product on your wig that you would use on your hair. In practice, oil based pomades and waxes can be difficult to remove from hair, so try to use these sparingly.
  • Remember that water will reactivate water-based styling products, so it is often possible to refresh and rework a style by dampening the hair rather than adding new product.

While it may be tempting to slather a wig in hairspray to hold its shape, this can often be counterproductive.  Since humans (especially those onstage under lights) sweat, they cause moisture to form in and on their wig. This moisture is the biggest culprit to hair styles, especially in human hair – however, more product is not the answer, as that same moisture will reactivate hair products, and when the sweat dampened wig starts to dry, can actually fuse the wig into the wrong shape.  Additionally, products like hairspray build up quickly on wigs, which can result in an unpleasant patina, staining and require more frequent washing.

A better plan is to set human hair wigs with a solution of water and gel (80% water, 20% gel, splash of rubbing alcohol), dry thoroughly on rollers, style, and then secure with the appropriate bobby pins, nets, etc.  While the gel is useful in helping the style to set (and is a little less prone to reactivating from sweat), the real hero is the process of moisture evaporating, preferably through an indirect heat source (such as a wig dryer or bonneted hair dryer on low). Check out our three part series on using rollers for more information on this. Use steam as the setting agent for synthetic wigs as water based styling products will do very little to set synthetic fibers.

 

A lace front wig blocked on a canvas head and set into rollers

A lace front wig blocked on a canvas head and set into rollers

Hairspray is most useful for keeping flyaways in place, and should be applied sparingly, if at all. Having said that, there are, of course, certain styles and situations where hairspray has a place  – stiff styles like beehives and bouffant, high volume up-dos, shows like Greater Tuna, Steel Magnolias, or Hedwig and the Angry Inch. If you use hairspray, remember that several light coats, with ample drying time between, is more effective than a heavy dousing. Using hair product on your wig will necessitate more frequent washing.

A quick way to help with static is to lightly swipe a dryer sheet over hair, or over your hands before touching hair.

 

 

 

Essential Wig Styling Supplies

everything you need to style, wear and care for your wigs

Essential Wig Supplies

What’s the best kind of roller for wigs?

You need rollers that are firm and rigid. For hair to take style effectively from rollers, the hair needs to be tight on the roller.  Only a rigid roller will allow enough tension to set the shape. The best rollers for styling have openings throughout the surface so it’s easy to get a pin or pick through them.

Since this blog was written in 2014, we have started offering a Wig Styling Roller Kit, which you can purchase in our online store. The rollers in the kit can be customized to support a specific style or they can be a varied assortment suitable for a range of styles, just let us know what you need! In combination with our Basic Wig Care Kit, you’ll have everything you need to style wigs with rollers.

Wig Styling with Rollers
Wig care kit