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A Beginner’s Guide to Wig Maintenance and Styling

As far as maintenance and longevity go, that depends on the type of wig you’re working with—as well as your upkeep habits. “Human hair wigs last longer than synthetic wigs,” says Johnson.“A good quality wig can last for months, or even years, with the right maintenance schedule,” she adds. When they’re well taken care of, a human hair wig can last over a year, and synthetic wigs can last for up to six months.

And while you can shampoo and condition your wigs to keep them looking and feeling fresh, Johnson recommends following tips directly from the wig manufacturer, too, to make sure they have the longest lifespan. “It’s important to use products that the manufacturer recommends. Some synthetic wigs can’t be washed at all, while some require special cleansing products,” she explains. Human wigs should be washed every seven to 10 wears, while synthetic wigs should be washed every 15 to 20 wears. I shampoo and condition both my human hair wigs and synthetic wigs accordingly, but I’m careful not to overwash since it can ruin the quality of the hair and decrease the wig’s lifespan.

Proper upkeep also relates to how long you keep your wig on, especially at night. “If you can take your wig off while you’re sleeping, please do so,” says Johnson. “This gives your natural hair time to breathe, maintains the longevity of the wig, and cuts down on styling time. It’ll be ready to go for the next morning without a ton of touch-up time.” This means that as long as you stay on top of your wig’s care, you can wear styles for weeks at a time before having to switch up to something new. 

Of course, a lot of people do sleep with their wigs on at night—myself included, on days when I’m feeling ~particularly~ lazy. When that happens, I like to tie down the front of the wig with an edge scarf and place a silk bonnet on top to help keep everything in place. 

Wig Removal & Storage

No matter how good a wig looks, you can’t keep it on forever. Luckily, wig removal is a fairly quick process, though it needs to be done with care and safety in mind. (Trust, the last thing you want to do is rip it off and yank strands from your natural hairline.) 

“If glue or lace tape was used, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the adhesive remover that they recommend,” says Johnson. However, for wigs that aren’t glued down, SHE recommends using a bit of diluted rubbing alcohol to remove any product from your forehead if necessary. 

If you’re storing your wig for a long time instead of just leaving it overnight on a mannequin, it’s best to wash it before. “Deep clean your wig with a clarifying shampoo, like Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shampoo, for breaking up any old and leftover products that may be trapped in the wig,” says Thomas. “After shampooing you always want to deep condition the wig.” His go-to is Silicon Mix by Avanti and he suggests leaving it on the wig for about 15 minutes, followed by rinsing and air drying. You can air-dry your wig on a wig stand or wall hook if you don’t have one. 

Last but not least: Tend to your natural hair. I always deep clean and condition my own hair right after a wig removal, so there’s no glue, hairspray, or styling residue in sight. Then, I’m ready for my next one.

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