While there are some similarities in the way you wash synthetic and human hair, you need completely different products to care for them. In this blog post, I will outline how to wash both human hair and synthetic wigs and toppers and offer advice on the different products you will need – plus things to avoid!
Human hair care
In general, you should treat human hair pieces the same as the hair on your head. However, I wash my human hair pieces as little as possible. In fact, I only really wash them if they get smelly or have a build-up on hair spray on them.
The follicles that house the hair that grows out of our heads produce oils to keep the hair in good condition. Human hair toppers and wigs obviously do not have follicles and so there is not a regular supply of natural oil. When you wash a human hair wig or topper, you are stripping away the oil on the hair and so it is important to use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. I only use sulphate-free, natural and gentle shampoo brands. I like Faith in Nature products, as they smell nice and are not tested on animals.
How to wash
- If you are washing a topper, make sure all of the clips are closed before you begin.
- Run the piece under a tap or shower to wet the hair.
- Get a 2p size blob of your chosen shampoo and gently massage it into the hair. Don’t rub or scrub the hair as that will make it tangle. Don’t worry if you get shampoo on the cap, it won’t damage the knots.
- Rinse well in running water. This might take longer than you would normally rinse hair on your head.
- I use a conditioning mask rather than a conditioner, but either is fine. The brand I like is called Coco & Eve. The mask is quite pricey, but a little bit goes a long way and it makes the hair feel lovely and soft. The most important thing to note here is that you should only put conditioner on the lengths and ends of the hair – not on the roots. You must keep it away from the knots as it can make them come loose and hair will fall out of your wig or topper.
- I leave the mask on the hair for about 10 minutes and then rinse it off under running water. The reason for rinsing this way is to prevent tangling. If you submerge the hair in water and try to wash off the shampoo or conditioner it is much more likely to get tangled.
- Never try to dry your piece from soaking wet with a hairdryer. You can pat the hair dry with a towel, but again don’t rub it! I leave my pieces to air dry on a plastic wig stand. If you try to dry your piece on a closed wig head, e.g. polystyrene or canvas, it will take longer to dry and might make the cap and stand a bit smelly and soggy.
- I use two different types of plastic stand: a standing one and a hanging one. See photos below.
- Do not brush the hair when it is wet, as it will damage the hair. You should be fine to brush it once it is 80-90% dry. Then you can also style it with a hairdryer. Make sure you use heat protection spray whenever you use a heat styling product on your piece.
You have to buy special hair care products to use on synthetic hair, as the hair is essentially made of plastic. I use a shampoo and conditioner from the T-Range from TrendCo, but there are a few different brands available. The scent is a big thing for me and I like the smell of this range, but I cannot vouch for it being better than other brands.
How to wash
- Give the hair a gentle brush before you start.
- Rinse the hair under running water.
- Apply a 2p blob of shampoo and massage it into the hair.
- Rinse off with running water. Although you don’t have to worry as much about the hair getting tangled.
- Here is where things are different from human hair. You will need to fill the sink or a bowl with lukewarm/cold water (make sure the water is not hot!). Add the conditioner to the water and mix it around. Then you soak the whole topper or wig in the bowl of water.
- I leave the hair to soak for a few minutes, but check the conditioner bottle and follow the time instructions on there.
- Rinse the hair under running water and then leave the piece to air dry.
- NOTE: you cannot use heat on synthetics unless they are heat-defiant fibres.
- I also have a spray-in conditioner from the T-Range, which I find useful for refreshing synthetic pieces and making the curls a bit bouncier on wavy/curly pieces.