What kind of styling products can you use on a wig?

Great question and one we get a lot! People want to know if they need special styling products for their wig or if certain products will be safe or effective. Here’s Heather with the lowdown on using styling products on wigs.

Styling products for wigs

The short answer to which styling products you can use on wigs is….it depends. That’s because any individual wig will have its own specific needs and quirks. The best course of action is to check with the person who made or styled your wig or the wig manufacturer before using any product on your wig. 

In general, it is safe to use any hair styling product that is intended for use on human hair on a human hair wig. Products like gel, hair spray, pomade, wax and others are made for use on human hair and when used as directed won’t generally damage human hair wigs.

If you’re not sure about a product, it’s best to test it on a small section of your wig and see how the fibers behave. 

There are a few things to keep in mind:

Every application of product on the wig will stay on the wig until you shampoo it. That means you should apply sparingly and be careful that reapplications don’t lead to a build up of product.

Some products can be drying to hair. Wigs lack the scalp oil that human heads have, so using a lot of hairspray or gel on a wig can, over time, cause the hair to dry out. This can usually be remedied with a deep conditioning treatment. 

Most hair styling products are water soluble. That means any moisture, including sweat, will reactivate them to some degree. This can be advantageous with gel, since it will become workable when the hair becomes wet and you can simply add a few curlers or comb hair back into shape without adding additional gel.

Hairspray will also become somewhat liquid in the presence of moisture. Unlike gel, it can’t be ‘re-worked’. Instead, hair that has been sprayed and then becomes damp will likely droop or fall. If it’s not address immediately and dries in it’s new ‘shape’, the hairspray will harden back up, cementing it into it’s new form. For this reason, be sparing with hairspray and be prepared to shampoo the hair to remove it before attempting to restyle. 

The best way to avoid product build up and also achieve a good outcome is to choose high quality, effective products and use them correctly. For example, choose a strong hold hairspray to keep your mustache curled. That way you only need to apply it once. 

Styling products for synthetic wigs

Most styling products designed for human hair won’t be very effective on synthetic hair. Here’s a few tips for styling synthetic wigs:

  • Instead of using hair gel for roller setting, roll the wig and then steam it.
  • Hairspray can help hold a synthetic wig in place but it won’t be as effective as on human hair.
  • Waxes and pomades work most similarly between the two fibers. 
  • In some cases, products like water soluble glue or glue sticks are a great way to create things like spikes or gravity-defying updos on synthetic wigs. 

The bottom line is synthetic wigs are generally some kind of plastic, so products meant to work with human hair are less effective. Look for non-traditional solutions, like steam or glue, to help set synthetic styles. 

a brown wig on a canvas head being braided

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