Choosing a wig
For many cancer patients, hair loss is the most distressing and feared side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. If you don’t want anybody to know you’re losing your hair, wigs may be your answer.
Ellen-Wille.co.za specializes in high quality wigs and understands customer needs. Through our experience and our clients requests we compiled these short guide lines to help you make an informed decision when choosing your wig. For any further or personalized assistance feel free to contact us, our professional team will be happy to help.
BEFORE YOU BUY
Ask Your Doctor
Not all treatments cause hair loss, so discuss the possibility with your doctor. If there is a high probability you will lose some of your hair, ask about steps you can take to help retain your hair.
Take a Short Cut
Even if you have always worn your hair long, getting a short haircut is one of the biggest breaks you can give yourself during treatment. Long hair, pulled down by gravity, is more likely to fall out sooner. Short hair masks initial hair loss better and makes less of a mess when it does fall out. Just remember to keep a good-sized lock of hair to use as a guide for wig shopping.
Give Yourself Options
Since wigs can be uncomfortable and troublesome, you probably won’t want to wear one everyday, all day. Head scarfs or turbans are best choices, fashionable and stylish.
WHERE TO BUY A WIG
You can purchase wigs online, but there’s no way to tell what you are really buying until it arrives at your door. If you do buy a wig over the Web, be sure you can return it for any reason.
Choosing a wig
A wide range of factors will inﬂuence your choice of wigs: human hair or synthetic; short or long; custom- or machine-made.
Synthetic vs. Human Hair
Most people prefer synthetic hair. It’s easier to maintain. Most synthetic wigs have their style moulded into them, but some can be reset. The advantage to style-able wigs is that you can change their look, just as with real hair. The disadvantage is that they have to be reset every time they’re washed. Synthetic hair also dries faster than real hair. Well-made special synthetic ﬁbre can cost more than common synthetic ﬁbre, but it looks, feels and even moves the way real hair does. Synthetic ﬁbre cannot be treated like your own hair — they literally fry when exposed to heat. So no curling irons or blow dryers unless they are speciﬁcally designed for wigs. Hot rollers can be used, but only at low settings. And avoid exposing the wig to any intense heat sources such as an oven. The blast of heat will cause frizzing.
Wigs made of human hair will obviously look and feel more like your hair, but are expensive and far more time consuming. You can use heated appliances on them for touch-ups, but you’ll probably want to take them to a professional to be washed and styled. There are three types of real hair used in wigs: Vietnamese, Indian and European. Vietnamese hair has 12 cuticle layers and is the heaviest and least like the hair found on Western Europeans. Indian hair has 6 cuticle layers and is slightly ﬁner and considered a mid-grade hair. European is the ﬁnest and most rare, and is priced accordingly. Since all these wigs are cleaned, stripped, dyed and possibly permed, it is often difﬁcult to tell what type of hair a wig is made from by the color or the curl alone.
The way a wig is made affects how it looks just as much as, if not more than, the type of hair used. A quality synthetic wig is preferable to a poorly made human one. There are three different types of wig constructions: custom, hand-made and machine-made.
Machine-made wigs are the least expensive and most widely available. If you’ve ever worn a wig, this is probably the type you are familiar with. Wefts of hair are sewn together in a straight line, cut and assembled into a wig (when you look inside a machine-made wig you can see the lines). Many look extremely realistic as long as they are not parted, pulled back or otherwise altered. Most people ﬁnd these wigs more comfortable because the construction creates vents that allow air to circulate to the scalp.
Hand-made wigs are expensive and look the most natural of the prefabricated choices because individual strands are knotted on to a skullcap rather than wefts of hair being sewn together. These wigs can be parted and styled with accessories because there is no chance the vents will be exposed. The hair also falls and moves more naturally.
Custom-made wigs are almost indistinguishable from natural hair. They are usually not a viable option for cancer patients, as they are extremely expensive and generally take more than two months to complete. Make sure that you have ﬁnal approval on the choice of hair and style. We recommend DIVYA™ HairCouture by www.humanhairtraders.com. They are “Hair Factory” specializing in custom made wigs and use only the ﬁnest virgin hair on the market.
Some patients use this as a time to experiment with a number of different looks while others just want a wig that looks like their hair. Either way, a few adjustments can make your wig look as natural as possible.
Keep in mind that a wig cannot replicate the way your hair blends into your skin. Sure, it does in movies, but that requires a great deal of time, makeup and a team of trained professionals. For your purposes, bangs, or at least wisps of hair covering the hairline, will help your wig look more natural.
Even if you’re staying with the cut you currently have, try a slightly shorter wig. During treatment, many people loose weight and become slightly drawn. A shorter style can add fullness. Plus, short wigs have less hair to brush out at night and don’t tangle as easily.
Wigs which utilize wide headbands along the hairline are easy to wear and stylish, but you’re locked into wearing a headband. Such models are better for occasional use or as a backup. Buying two wigs in different styles can make life easier than purchasing one very expensive wig. You won’t have to restyle your wig every time you want to put your hair up.
Whether you’re matching your own hair color or thinking about something different, try going a shade lighter. It will help offset skin tone changes that may occur during treatment. Always wanted to be a redhead? Go ahead, but stay close to your natural shade or lighter.
Make sure you get the color you want. Look at the wig outside in natural light. Look at the quality of color as much as depth. There’s more to brown than light, medium and dark; check out the highlights, low lights and underlying tones too.
In addition to the wig, you’ll need some supplies: a head form to store the wig on, a wire wig brush, hair nets, T-pins to hold the wig in place while brushing, low alcohol or wig hair spray, baby or wig shampoo, conditioner and, depending on the length, hair pins and rollers. All are available at the wig shop, a beauty supply retailer, through your hairdresser or online.
WEAR AND CARE
The wig shop or your hairdresser can demonstrate how to put your wig on properly by grasping it in the front and rolling it back over your head. It should ﬁt securely but not be uncomfortably tight. Line up the points on the side of the wig in front of your ears, where a man’s sideburns start. Your ears should be pulled out over the wig, not tucked under.
As hair loss progresses, it may become difﬁcult to tell where your natural hairline is. It’s easy to wind up wearing a wig too low or too high on your forehead. Keep a photo that shows your natural hairline to use as a guide.
Under any type of wig, you’ll need to wear a cap. These are soft, snug nylon or cotton coverings that protect your scalp, control your hair and keep the wig from slipping. Buy more caps than you think you will need; it’s good to have extras and rotate them regularly.
Your wig may need to be reﬁtted after you loose your hair, particularly if you had long or thick hair when you purchased it. All wigs have adjustable straps at the back to change the size; if the wig still feels loose, take it back to the store for adjustment.
All wigs require a certain amount of daily care but probably less than the time you’d spend on your own hair.
Most synthetic wigs have the style moulded into the hair, so simply control and emphasize the set with hot rollers set on medium or low (Never use curling irons or hair dryers on synthetic wigs!).