I wore wigs pretty much every day for 2 years. I started in May of 2012 and stopped in September of 2014. Now, I wear extensions sometimes, but a vast majority of my hair is naturally mine. In that time frame, I learned a lot about wigs, extensions, and society’s definitions of acceptable beauty.
It all started with why I chose to wear wigs. This was the most common topic/question in conversations revolving around my wigs, more likely with people who know me somewhat than with strangers. When I started wearing them, I wasn’t suffering from any type of hair loss. The only thing I was “suffering” from was a bad haircut decision – I had gotten a pixie cut that I now wanted to grow out. Research told me I couldn’t do much–clip-in extensions would never work, and the kind they attach at the salon are often up to $700 or more. Wigs were my solution.
(Two photos of me: on the left, I’m wearing a 50% human hair and 50% synthetic wig; on the right, I’m wearing my natural hair with human hair extensions)
It was during these two years that I learned all about the pros and cons of wigs, what questions people would ask, and the way people would either be impressed or judgmental.
The pros were easy to notice, and I still miss many of these pros now that I no longer wear wigs:
1. Wigs are easier. Period. Unless you have hair that you can literally wake up in the morning, without showering or styling it in any way, and it’s 100% perfectly the way you like it without any work, and you also don’t need to color it or do any other frequent salon treatments, then wigs are just plain easier. People think wigs are a lot of work for some reason, but they’re not. Yes, you have to comb them and sometimes wash them, but not like what you’d typically have to do to hair. Synthetic and even 50% human hair wigs are typically wake-up-and-wear. You physically just put the wig on and it already looks perfect.
2. Wigs don’t have these common hair issues – static, split ends, misplaced hairs, humidity. Even wigs that are 50% human hair, which i’ve owned and personally love, do not have the same spectrum of problems that natural hair succumbs to. Straight, silky wigs stay that way, no matter what. To the point where several people had to ask me, “How is your hair perfect ALL THE TIME?” and I had to ‘fess up. Taking photos after a walk outside in the humidity? No problem. Hair still looks great.
3. You can have all the best parts of having nice long hair and none of the worst. Of course, this one is only applicable to people who wear long wigs, and who don’t wear their natural hair long or style it in complicated ways. While I was wearing wigs, I did very little maintenance of my own hair. I didn’t dye it, get it cut, straighten it, etc. All I did was wash and condition it once per day (as usual). I wore wigs that gave off effects I felt would be difficult to maintain in real life–long hair, ombre lavender, dark chocolate brown, blonde, and rainbow streaks. At the end of the day, I could take my wig off and relax. Hassle be gone.
(A photo of me wearing my 50% human hair and 50% synthetic wig.)
But wait: if wigs are this great, then why did I stop? Well, there were so many reasons. But the main reasons were that my natural hair grew out to the point I wanted it to, and I was getting sick of the cons of wigs.
What cons, you may ask? Unfortunately, these ones:
1. Despite not being itchy or uncomfortable at all, wigs are hot. Especially in the summer. Atop my head, all my natural hair was stuffed into several wig caps, with a thick head of synthetic hair on top. Wigs are made thick, so you have a lot of options. When I say a lot of hair, I mean a lot. I had to have my hairdresser trim my wigs severely because they were quite full of hair.
2. At the end of the day, my head was a mess. That means if I thought I was “done for the day,” AKA took off my wig already, but there was a fire drill in my residence hall, or a friend called me up to hang out, or someone just showed up at my apartment door, I had my messy, crap hair. Sometimes, I had to wear my ‘crappy hair’ out in public, where people would see me. I am NOT in any way self-conscious about my natural hair, which is straight and silky. But the way it was after a day of being stuffed into a wig cap was awful – it was sweaty, messy, and completely frazzled. Add this to the fact that I was not taking much care of my hair during my wig wearing days (AKA never trimming it or blow drying it) and it was a hot mess.
3. There are so many times that wigs are inconvenient to wear. Carnivals. Beaches. Pools. Hot, sweaty concerts. Taking a nap. When you’re sick. When you’re trying to get intimate with a significant other. There were more times that I had to take my wig off, take a shower and re-style my hair than I wanted. It became a huge hassle.
What I learned about wigs, beyond the pros and cons, was also how naturally curious people are about them and how people judge natural beauty. While I was a wig wearer, I was often questioned by people about my wigs, why I wore them and how I took care of them. Sometimes people intoned that I should be wearing my ‘natural’ hair and that I was somehow essentially self-conscious and/or vain for wearing wigs. I always found that interesting, because I have pretty great self-esteem, and I’m especially uninterested in my physical appearance when it comes to my self-consciousness. I only wore wigs because they were easy and were a placeholder until my natural hair grew out. But it was assumed by so many people that I must be somehow inherently self-conscious of my own hair and appearance, or vain enough to ‘show off’ my appearance with additions like wigs and flashy clothing.
Really, what I learned is that “natural beauty” is kind of a load of crap. There’s this huge new movement to push people to be comfortable with how they are ‘naturally’ without considering that some people may have healthy self-esteem and just like wearing wigs, straightening their hair, or applying colorful makeup. I loved myself naturally, and wearing wigs was just a convenience, while dressing in glittery outfits is just a passion and a hobby.
Thursday’s blog will feature my switch to human hair extensions, the pros and cons of clip-in extensions, and my opinions about wigs vs. extensions.