Wendy’s hairstylist and wigologist Robyn Michele is here to get into wig maintenance. Robyn’s tips will help you extend the life of your wig, extensions, or hairpiece.
Detangling your wig is essential. This should be done prior to any other wig maintenance, especially before washing or wetting your wig (we’ll get to that). Robyn prefers to use the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush because the brush fans out. If there are any snags or knots, the brush will stretch with the snag instead of tugging at the hair. When detangling curly hair, Robyn recommends using the Denman Brush. You can also use a standard vent brush, but be extra gentle.
Once you’ve chosen a brush, begin brushing your wig from the bottom up. When the bottom of the wig is fully detangled, work your way up to the mid shaft, and then the top. Once those three sections are detangled, you can brush through the wig from top to bottom, just don’t yank the hair!
Wash Wig With Sulfate Free Shampoo
Now that your wig is tangle free, you can give it a good wash! Wigs should be washed once a week at the most, or every other week at the least.
Use your shampoo of choice, making sure it’s sulfate free. Sulfate free shampoo is “free of all of those hard detergents that completely strip your hair.” Take your shampoo and emulsify it into the wig in a downward motion starting from the top and working your way down. Don’t use too much shampoo; you can always add more! The key here is to make sure you’re distributing the shampoo evenly. What you’re not gonna do, is apply shampoo to the ends of your wig and work your way up. “Depending on the hair texture, you’re just gonna create a knot and a ball, and you’re going to stress yourself out having to detangle this thing all over again.” If you thought detangling was a pain before, it’s even worse with glops of shampoo in your wig.
With warm water (never hot), rinse your wig in a downward motion and repeat as necessary. Robyn reassured us you’ll be able to gage whether or not the wig is clean. Robyn has washed the same wig up to three times, and will wash it as many times as it needs until it becomes clean.
After your wig is washed and clean, flip it inside out to clean the base. You want the base to be just as clean as your wig because “the base is what’s closest to your scalp. You’re scalp is oozing natural oils, which is great, but that’s also getting built up.” Sweat and strong scents (like smoke and food) will build up in the base of your wig.
Repeat all steps with conditioner after.
Once everything is squeaky clean, grab sections of hair and gently squeeze the water out. Is your wig a mop? Of course it’s not, so don’t squeeze it like one! That’s all.
After getting as much water out of the wig as possible, add a leave in detangling spray or light oil. If you use oil, do not apply it to the top of the wig. Then, grab a skirt hanger with two sliding clamps and latch them onto the wig’s hair at opposite ends. Whatever you do, don’t clamp or hang your wig by the lace.
Feel free to finger detangle the wig again and squeeze out more water. At this point, all you have to do is hang it to dry! Lay a towel underneath the wig to absorb dripping water. The situation might not look as pretty as you’d like, but “it’s what works!”
When the wig is completely dry, it’s ready to be styled! Place your unit on a wig block to style. Robyn prefers a 22 (head circumference) wig block, but it’s best to measure your head and use a wig block that simulates the circumference of your head. If this isn’t your style, purchase a styrofoam wig head and a wig head base. Some people prefer to style their wig on their actual head, but that can often make life harder. Robyn knows it’s definitely a preference, but she likes to style while seeing every angle of the wig, and is able to do other things while the wig is setting.
To apply the wig to the wig head, hold onto the sides of the wig (without grabbing the lace), place the wig towards the center and wrap it around the wig head so it’s snug. Using four T-Pins, lightly slide them into the edges of the wig without poking through the lace. There should be two towards the top, and two at the bottom.
Prep your wig with any products needed, and style as you see fit!
Gently remove your wig from the wig head, flip your unit inside out, and place it in a satin bag. This will preserve the wig’s style overtime, especially when it comes to travel! Do as you please, but Robyn doesn’t put her wigs in a suitcase. “If you lose any of my stuff, what you’re not gonna do is have me and my client baldheaded walking around these streets!” Don’t check your wig; store them in your purse or carry on bag when traveling.