Wigs and for that matter weaves are products that I never thought I would ever use in my lifetime. Before I began my HHJ I just didn’t see the point of wearing fake hair when there was already a head-full of hair growing on my head. In my mind wigs were for bald people or celebrities.
A hair journey natural or otherwise has a way of opening your eyes to a whole new world of experiences and techniques and I quickly came to the realization that I had difficulty retaining length while my hair was loose and being washed and detangled weekly.
Among the solutions available as protective styles, wigs were probably in the ‘last resort’ category but very soon I came to see their usefulness both as a protective style and a way to have hair to play in while growing out my real hair.
Depending on the application method that you choose and also by their very nature wigs* make getting access to your hair and scalp for wash day very easy as compared to weaves. This makes them a top protective style for those of us who absolutely need access to our scalps.
How To Use Wigs As A Protective Style To Grow Your Hair Long
Everyone has their own ideas on how a wig is best used in a protective styling regimen and rules change only slightly whether you choose to use a wig with clips, a u-part wig that you sew down the perimeter of your head or a lace front wig.
So without further ado, here are my top tips for using a wig* as a protective style to grow your hair.
1. Your braids are more the protective style than the wig
You should always braid your hair underneath your wig. Go for cornrows if you are planning to don a straight wig. If you are going for a curly wig then you won’t have to worry too much about lumps and bumps and just install largish box braids that you can tie into a low bun before putting the wig on. Either way do them neatly because you will be keeping them for a few weeks.
Remember that the wig is just the pretty outer covering, the real protective magic happens within the braids that you install underneath.
This is probably the most important tip if you are looking to retain length. Wearing a wig during the week then taking down the braids underneath to wash your hair every weekend totally defeats the purpose of the protective style!
While you might think that you are doing right by your hair, you have in essence turned your protective style into a low manipulation style which depending on your hair type may not be enough to retain maximum length.
A true protective style means that you do not manipulate your own hair for a few weeks. So keep your hair underneath braided and wash, condition and moisturize your hair as usual.
Deep condition weekly to keep your hair in the best condition and in case you are wondering, yes your hair can and does get absolutely clean even when washed in braids! Always allow your hair to dry completely before re-applying the wig.
3. To remove or not to remove nightly
Obviously this depends on the application method that you choose. A wig* installed with clips absolutely must be removed every night. The clips can be really rough on your hairline and may end up causing serious damage to your edges or nape if left in overnight.
A wig sewn in around the perimeter can be left alone all week and only taken down on wash day to cleanse and condition your own hair. Sewing the wig around your perimeter shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes so can easily be done as part of your weekly regimen.
4. Moisturize your hair daily or as needed
Keeping your hair’s moisture protein balance in check is just as important while protective styling as when your hair is loose. I wouldn’t recommend sealing with oils* too often to avoid causing build up but a daily light spritz with a braid spray or leave in conditioner* won’t go amiss.
You may choose to spray your hair at night after taking off the wig or in the morning before putting it on, just be sure to make moisturizing a big part of your regimen.
By now we all know that extra care is needed when you use synthetic extensions* with box braids because they cause your own hair to become drier. Wigs on the other hand are not in as much contact with your own hair as braids would be so for that reason it doesn’t really matter what you choose.
If you are a virgin Indian hair snob then by all means make or buy your wigs with only the best quality hair. If on the other hand you don’t mind the fact that you will have to re-purchase your synthetic wigs possibly after every protective styling stretch then buy those. They are cheap enough anyway!
6. Pick a sensible texture for u-part or half wigs
Full wigs are easier to deal with for sure but partial wigs like quick weaves, u-parts or half wigs* are so much more natural looking because you get to show your own part and edges. With some of your hair exposed daily, it would be wise to pick a texture that allows you to blend your own hair with the wig with the minimum of manipulation to your own strands.
If it’s summer and you are natural then forget about trying to blend your hair with a straight wig. You will cause untold damage to your leave out with the daily flat ironing that you have to do. If you go curly pick a texture that matches yours closely.
7. Be cautious with lace wigs and lace front wigs
I get that you want your lace wig to look as natural as possible while wearing it, and I’ve seen some really undetectable ones out there. But you have to draw a line between your own hair’s health and just a hairstyle which a wig basically is.
If you have a low forehead then forget the idea of gluing down your unit and accept that lace wigs* were not meant for everybody. I’ve seen ladies in salons shave their edges in order to get good adhesion of the glue on their lace units to their skin! Rather than comment on that, I will leave it up to you to decide how important this month’s style is as compared to the long term goals you have for your own hair.
Well there you have it. Wigs make excellent protective styles and they will grow your hair if you go about their use correctly. Best of all, they allow you to switch up your hair length and color without the commitment of scissors or peroxide!
Happy protective styling ladies!