5 lessons I’ve learned about buying wigs and toppers online

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.

How to measure your head for a wig or topper

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 for the past three years and I have never been to a wig shop – all 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.

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.

I found this video from Lusta Hair useful as it explains how to choose the right size topper base and how to work out how much coverage you need.

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.

Check out this Jon Renau video, which shows you how to measure your head for a wig using a tape measure.

 

How to remove a comb and add a clip to your topper

Toppers usually come with several pressure clips sewn into them to attach the piece to your bio hair. Different brands use different-sized pressure clips and you might find that smaller or larger ones are more comfortable for you.

In addition, some toppers come with a comb at the front. I find these too bulky and uncomfortable, so I prefer to remove them and sew in a small pressure clip instead.

The video below shows how I removed the comb from the front of my Highline topper and replaced it with a small clip. Apologies for the shaking camera work – note to self that filming with one hand is not a good idea. 

You will need:

  • Sharp scissors or a seam ripper
  • A small needle
  • Light coloured or brown thread (depending on the colour of the hair on your topper)
  • A steady hand!!!

Hairstyles for when your bio hair and topper are different lengths

An issue with wearing toppers is that your bio hair will not always be exactly the same length as the topper hair. And when you wear your hair in a shorter length, it can often be more obvious if your topper is longer or shorter than your bio hair. Longer hairstyles tend to blend a bit better, but if you have shoulder-length hair like me, it can be a pain to constantly have to get your bio hair trimmed or swap between different length hairpieces.

If you haven’t had a chance to get to the hairdresser or you are trying to grow out your bio hair, it can be frustrating when you can’t wear a piece you love. I’ve got this exact problem at the moment and have come up with a few different hairstyles you can try to keep wearing your topper for a little bit longer.

Note: in the above video I talk about ‘brown hair spray’ by this I mean a brown-tinted dry shampoo or a brown coverage spray such as Toppik. You could also use hair fibres to cover up any thin patches depending on your level of hair loss.

The piece I am using in this video is the Amber human hair topper, which I was gifted by Uniwigs to give my honest review. Check out my Instagram page @her_hair_my_head for further reviews of this piece.

INFO: Amber Silk Top Human Hair Topper with Bangs Hair Topper: 6″x6″
SKU: PS1702
Colour: G2-dark coffee brown
Direct Link: ‪http://bit.ly/2ogReUB‬
Use the coupon code Georgie15 to get 15% off this piece!

Choosing the ‘right’ colour topper for your bio hair

The ‘perfect’ blend

One of the main issues that women who wear toppers have is how to blend them with their bio hair. A good blend looks much more realistic. You do not have this same problem with a wig, as most of – if not all of – your bio hair is covered by the wig. (I tend to pull out some of my bio hair at the ears when wearing a wig, but this is not necessary.) Wearing wigs means you can be a bit more experimental with different colours.

As a topper sits on top of your head, you will see some of your own bio hair at the front, sides and underneath the topper hair. This can vary depending on how big the topper cap is, how much hair the topper has and how thick it is. For this reason, a good colour match is important. For example, I do not have much hair at the front of my hairline, so I tend to wear my toppers right where my hairline begins. However, for women who have more hair in this area, they often wear their toppers an inch or so back from the hairline and then blend their bio hair with the topper hair. 

If you have jet black hair and you choose to wear a white blonde topper, this is going to be an obvious contrast. However, you can wear a few different shades lighter or darker than your bio hair – especially if the topper is rooted. It is quite normal for the hair at the nape of our neck to be slightly darker than the top of the head and also many women have darker roots than the lengths and ends of their hair. In the above video, I will show you a few of the different shades of brown topper I wear on a regular basis – from light brown with subtle blonde highlights to a dark chocolate brown. 

Toppers featured in this video: