I’ve been wearing alternative hair full-time for the past 3.5 years. I’ve bought a lot of pieces – both human hair and synthetic – and I’ve made a few mistakes along the way. Buying hair can be tricky, so here are a few tips and pitfalls to avoid.
1. Just because it looks good on someone else on Instagram, doesn’t mean it will work for you
I have bought a few pieces based on how they looked on someone else and I’ve always been disappointed. For starters, people have different complexions and face shapes, so certain pieces will suit them better. For example, I definitely cannot pull off a centre parting. Also, lots of people filter their photographs, so it is not always a proper representation of what the piece looks like.
If you find a brand or specific piece you like, do your research. Check out lots of different people’s YouTube reviews and find photographs of the piece in different lights. While I have not yet bought a piece from this company, Simply Wigs has a 360-view video of many of its pieces shown on a foam head. This is useful to see how long the piece is and how it looks from all angles.
2. More hair doesn’t equal better… for me
I have learned that too much hair freaks me out. I like pieces that sit flat to my head and give me ‘normal’ looking hair. I’ve never had big and bouncy hair, and I don’t know what to do with it! You probably won’t know how much hair you want/need until you have worn a piece for a while. I am also quite a sweaty person, so having less weight and bulk on my head helps me to feel cool. The pieces that I have bought and then gone on to sell have always been because they are too much hair and have too much volume on top.
3. You get what you pay for
If you buy a £15 headband wig from Amazon, don’t expect it to be amazing quality. I made this mistake: not only did the hair look very fake and shiny, you could see the wefts at the back and it was so tight it gave me a headache. Find a brand you like and once you have researched the piece, look out for discount codes and sales. Don’t impulse buy a piece without finding out as much as you can. I am part of a few hair loss groups on Facebook and I find it useful to ask other wig sisters their views on a piece and for pics of them wearing it. We all have our own budgets and what we view as cheap or expensive is different. However, in my view, if the price seems too good to be true then it probably is. And if you are going to invest in a piece that costs more than a couple of hundred pounds, make sure it is right for you. The most expensive piece I have bought so far was a human hair topper that cost me £500. This was a lot of money for me, but the piece has lasted for a couple of years with daily wear.
4. Don’t be too trusting
There are some bargains to be had when buying wigs or toppers online and you can pick up some great preloved pieces. This year I have bought two preloved toppers from wig sisters in Australia and the UK – I am thrilled with both, which are still in excellent condition and I managed to save a few hundred pounds. However, not everyone is honest. I have heard horror stories of pieces turning up that are in awful condition or not at all what was advertised. If you are transferring money through PayPal, do not use Friends & Family as you will not have any way of getting your money back. If you are buying a piece from an online retailer, check them out first. Are their prices too good to be true? Do they have lots of real reviews of their pieces? Do they have proper contact details and a physical office address? Ask other people if they have bought from a company before and what their customer service is like. Do they charge a high restocking fee if you change your mind and what is their returns policy?
5. Find a hairdresser with wig cutting experience
Once you have got your piece, it is likely that it will need to be modified to make it just right for you (I would say this is more important with toppers than wigs, as they often need to be blended with your bio hair). I tend to have a fringe cut into most of my pieces because I do not have much bio hair at the front to blend in with a topper. Make sure you trust the person who cuts your wig and be clear about what you want. The hair won’t grow back if they cut off too much! I spoke to one lady who took her topper to be trimmed and the stylist cut about 3 inches off the topper so that it matched the length of her bio hair. She was mortified as she wanted to grow out her hair, but had not made this clear to the hairdresser.
If you are able to try on a piece in a wig shop before you commit to buy then you can tell how well it fits, how comfortable it is to wear, if the colour suits you and also the coverage and blend with your bio hair (if you are trying a topper). You will also benefit from fitting advice from a trained professional.
At the time of writing, this is unlikely to be possible in the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions. Regardless of lockdown restrictions, many of us simply do not live near to a wig shop and are having to order blind from online retailers. I have been buying toppers and wigs since 2018 and I have only been to a wig shop once – most of my pieces have been online purchases. I have made a few mistakes along the way, but I can safely say that the most important thing you can do before making that online purchase is to measure your head.
I made this education video with Francesca from Peluka Salon, which offers advice on how to measure your head for a topper.
How to choose a topper base size
These come in different base sizes depending on the amount of coverage you need and the extent of your hair loss. These start from the smaller parting pieces (around 2.5×2.5in), which are good for minimal loss around your parting and for tying up hair in a pony tail. These can add a bit of volume for women with fine hair, but won’t give a huge amount of coverage around the sides or back of the head.
I tend to wear average size toppers (sometimes called mid/progressive), which are anything from 5x5in or 5x6in to 7x7in. These tend to give good coverage of the top of the head/crown area and some coverage on the sides and back. If you have advanced or more severe hair loss, but don’t want to wear a full wig, you can get much larger toppers that are 9x9in and 10x10in. Larger toppers can also be useful if your bio hair is shorter than the topper hair and you want to cover it up, rather than blend the two together.
Check out this video that gives more advice on the different topper base sizes!
How to work out your wig cap size
While most wigs come with adjustable straps, you will want to get one that is a comfortable fit for your head. Sizes are usually petite, average and large. Note: different brands work out their wig sizes differently, so it is important to check the exact measurements of their petite, average and large cap sizes. They should have this information on their website.
There are three key measurements you will need to take to work out your ideal wig size: circumfrance; ear to ear; and front to back. The majority of wig wearers will need an average cap, which is between 54cm to 57cm (21.25 to 22.5 inches). Petite wig caps are between 51cm and 54cm (20 to 21.25 inches), while large wig caps are usually bigger than 57cm (22.5 to 24 inches).
Many brands offer custom wig caps where you can submit your measurements and have a cap made that is the perfect size for your head. However, custom wigs are significantly more expensive than ‘off-the-peg’ wigs.
**Coming soon** An educational video about how to measure your head for a wig.
Cap features: Silk top, free part, but you can request it styled into a left- or right-side or middle parting on delivery. You can also choose to have it styled straight, wavy or straight with wavy ends.
RRP: This exact piece is no longer for sale, similar pieces are priced at around £300 upwards.
I paid: £0. I won this piece in a competition on Instagram.
While longer and more thorough wig/topper reviews are useful, it is not often that I will sit and watch the whole thing from start to finish. Sometimes you just want the basic info on a piece and to see it on another person.
Quick 5 is a short and sweet introduction to some of the different toppers and wigs I own – with everything you need to know in less than 5 minutes! First up is my Highline Wigs human hair topper.