A be­gin­ner’s guide to the world of wigs

Hairstylis­t and wig­maker to the stars Tokyo Stylez shares the hottest trends – and all you need to know about lace fronts and more.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents - Words by EL­IZ­A­BETH DEN­TON, SHAMMARA LAWRENCE

Even if you don’t know Tokyo Stylez by name, you know his work. He’s the rea­son celebri­ties, in­clud­ing Cardi B, Kylie Jen­ner and Nicki Mi­naj al­ways have such good wigs. Cardi’s choppy pixie at the 2018 MTV Video Mu­sic Awards? That was Tokyo. Kylie’s red hair in her Valen­tine’s Day col­lec­tion cam­paign? Yep, all Tokyo. And if you’re one of his more than 1.2 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram (@tokyostyle­z), you know he’s be­come a star in his own right. He even has his own line of trendy wigs and ex­ten­sions for sale on his web­site (tokyostyle­z­col­lec­tion.com).

Choose a laid-back style

While there re­ally aren’t spe­cific wigs that go out of style, Tokyo says he’s lov­ing that peo­ple are grav­i­tat­ing to­wards more nat­u­ral looks this year. “I’m seeing more tex­tured looks,” he says. “I see a lot of girls just rock­ing ei­ther their nat­u­rally curly hair, or they get curly or wavy ex­ten­sions. It’s more just ef­fort­less, get-up-and-go-type hair.” He ex­plains that it goes with hav­ing a laid-back vibe when you re­ally just want to get out and en­joy the weather – not be in your bath­room for hours get­ting ready. Tokyo him­self has been wear­ing wavy wigs a lot lately, too.

“Wigs are hav­ing a ma­jor mo­ment

in the beauty in­dus­try”

Keep a long wig out of your face

Tokyo lives for a long wig, but he has one rule for wear­ing one: it has to stay out of his face and not be a distractio­n. “I al­ways wear my hair pushed be­hind my shoul­ders, that al­lows me to still have fun,” he says. “And be­cause the hair is so long, it’s go­ing to stay back there. Keep­ing it be­hind your shoul­ders al­le­vi­ates a lot of hair get­ting in your face when you’re try­ing to eat, have fun and drink.”

But don’t for­get it’s there

Tokyo tells us a hi­lar­i­ous but scary story of when his long hair got stuck in be­tween slid­ing glass doors. “I walked through [the doors], and my hair was so long and it was blow­ing, and it got stuck and I got yanked by the door,” he says. “So, al­ways be aware. You just have to watch it.”

Add ex­tra se­cu­rity if you’re danc­ing

When you want to get down, whether that’s per­form­ing on a stage or just with your friends in the crowd, there are things you can do to keep your wig se­cure. Tokyo ex­plains that some­times he’ll sew the wig on, and other times he’ll put an elastic band on it and glue the front and back on. Plus, he’ll add pins through­out the wig, even in the mid­dle, to make sure it’s not mov­ing. That’s re­ally the most im­por­tant thing, he says. “If it’s swing­ing, you know ain’t noth­ing com­ing off.”

Wigs are hav­ing a ma­jor mo­ment in the beauty in­dus­try. They’ve been a long­time sta­ple for event-go­ing celebri­ties looking to change their hair­style for the red car­pet with­out dam­ag­ing their own hair. But be­yond the world of star­dom, wigs have been gain­ing ma­jor steam on so­cial me­dia, where skilled hair­styl­ists show­case their magic for the masses. Every other day, it seems, a stylist goes vi­ral for flaw­lessly blend­ing a unit to look ex­actly like the client’s own hair.

And just as there are many dif­fer­ent ways to style a wig, there are many dif­fer­ent kinds of wigs to style. Frontals, full-lace wigs, syn­thetic units – you’ve got op­tions, baby. Whether you’re a nat­u­ral­ista who wants to change your hair with­out putting stress on your strands or you’re sim­ply looking for a change with­out the commitment, wigs are an incredibly ver­sa­tile and con­ve­nient op­tion to con­sider.

Syn­thetic vs nat­u­ral

Wigs can get ex­pen­sive. A good wig made of hu­man hair can set you back a lot of money, de­pend­ing on who’s cre­at­ing it and what type of hair they’re us­ing. Luck­ily, there are sturdy syn­thetic wigs that cost far less, though these are rare and re­quire a lot of re­search. That said, syn­thetic wigs of­ten last only a few months, or less if you’re rock­ing them reg­u­larly. But, with proper care, you can use hu­man-hair wigs for a few years in the sense that our more af­ford­able range of wigs are ex­cep­tional and re­ally far from what peo­ple con­sider a syn­thetic wig to be.

Melted But­ter Lux Fi­bre Ad­vanced Technology (R2 500-R3 500) is next level. These units are hand­made lace fronts that blend per­fectly with the skin, leav­ing you with a brand-new transparen­t and su­per or­ganic hair­line. Each hair on the hair­line is tied in­di­vid­u­ally, just like a hu­man-hair wig, and the hair­lines are mul­ti­di­rec­tional and ver­sa­tile. Each unit comes ready-to-wear with baby hairs and full, volup­tuous tips.

Lace-front wigs

These are typ­i­cally made with hu­man hair, with a clo­sure (a hair­piece that looks like your nat­u­ral scalp) sewn on the unit’s crown that can only be parted one or two ways in the front. Tracks are sewn on the back of the unit, from ear to ear (a 12A-grade can start from R4 500).

“As with hair ex­ten­sions, you should care for wigs as you would your own hair”

Full-lace wigs

Usu­ally made with hu­man hair and con­structed from a lace cap, “a full-lace wig is a ven­ti­lated unit that has ver­sa­til­ity [and] al­lows you to part your hair in any di­rec­tion. Whether you want pony­tails or corn­rows, the op­tions avail­able with full-lace wigs are un­lim­ited,” hairstylis­t Kel­lon Deryck ex­plains. They’re in­stalled by first braid­ing one’s nat­u­ral hair in corn­rows, usu­ally straight back; ap­ply­ing a small amount of ad­he­sive glue around the hair’s perime­ter (with­out get­ting it into any of your own hair); and then putting the wig on and in place, by bond­ing it to the glue and se­cur­ing with wig clips, if there are any included with the unit.

Cus­tom wigs

As the name sug­gests, these are hu­man-hair wigs that are cus­tom-made with head cir­cum­fer­ence and style pref­er­ences in mind. These wigs are made by a hair pro­fes­sional who first cre­ates a base (usu­ally from lace or a stock­ing cap with a stretchy, pre-mea­sured band at­tached ), which is fit­ted to your head, and then sews the hair of your choice onto it.

Wig main­te­nance

As with hair ex­ten­sions, you should care for wigs as you would your own hair. That said, with wigs, in par­tic­u­lar, there are some key fac­tors to keep in mind to ex­tend the life of your unit. Take off cus­tom units and store­bought wigs every night and keep them on a man­nequin head. If your wig is sewn along your hair­line, how­ever, wear a silk bon­net or scarf at night to pro­tect the hair and keep it in tip­top shape (the same goes for full-lace wigs that have been ap­plied with an ad­he­sive).

Wash your wig with sul­fate-free sham­poo and con­di­tioner

Your own hair ben­e­fits from the oils pro­duced by your scalp, but wigs don’t have a nat­u­ral source of mois­ture, so avoid cleans­ing them with prod­ucts that con­tain harsh de­ter­gents. This is where sul­fate-free sham­poo and con­di­tion­ers come in: they work as gen­tle cleansers, so you won’t dam­age the in­tegrity of the hair.

Don’t wash them too much

How of­ten you should be wash­ing your wigs de­pends on how fre­quently you wear them. If you wear a wig daily, wash­ing it twice a month is suf­fi­cient to en­sure hair re­mains bouncy and freshlook­ing for as long as pos­si­ble. But if you only wear a wig once in a while, a on­cea-month wash will suf­fice. Never wash wigs more than twice in any given month, or you could dam­age the unit and shorten its life­span.

Keep all wigs on a man­nequin head

Un­less your wig is sewn to your head, Kel­lon sug­gests get­ting a man­nequin head where you can rest it be­tween wears. This also works as a great way to keep your wig’s hair­style in­tact as you get ready to go out. Leave it on the stand, then slip it on be­fore head­ing out the door.

Don’t use heat on syn­thetic wigs

Since syn­thetic wigs aren’t made from real hair, they typ­i­cally can’t with­stand heat or much ma­nip­u­la­tion. The heat can ac­tu­ally melt

the hair, so stay away from it al­to­gether. If you want to style your syn­thetic wig, you can create big, bouncy curls by us­ing flexi rods and other heat­less tools.

Never use heavy oils or styling creams

You don’t want to weigh the hair down, so it’s best to avoid any­thing that will make it look greasy or leave residue.

Styling tips

When heat styling hu­man-hair wigs, the tools and prod­ucts you use are of ut­most im­por­tance. The last thing you want to do is ruin the hair on the wig, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how much of an in­vest­ment wigs can be. In gen­eral, you should use pro­fes­sional ther­mal styling tools (flat irons and curl­ing wands), prefer­ably with tem­per­a­ture-con­trol di­als so you can de­ter­mine how much heat is be­ing ap­plied to the hair. Ad­di­tion­ally, only en­sure hu­man hair is dry be­fore you use heat on it, and use a heat pro­tec­tant.

Heat­less styling

One of the rea­sons wigs are so fun to wear is the bound­less num­ber of styling pos­si­bil­i­ties. Two jumbo plaits taken down is easy to do and it’s uni­ver­sally flat­ter­ing. Be­fore braid­ing your hair, spritz it with wa­ter or a light­weight, leave-in con­di­tioner, then de­tan­gle with your fin­gers or a widetooth comb to re­move knots and make it lay flat. This simple process usu­ally takes less than five min­utes. If you un­ravel the braids after they dry (usu­ally in an hour or two), you’ll get big, gor­geous beach waves.

If you want to swop a curly unit with­out straight­en­ing it, you can al­ways “al­ter the curl pat­tern by set­ting the hair on dif­fer­ent size flexi rods or perm rods, ”hairstylis­t Ro Morgan says. And al­ways re­mem­ber to keep those curls hy­drated so they look sleek and bouncy.

How to al­ter a curl pat­tern

Gen­er­ally, it’s ad­vis­able not to com­pletely straighten a curly wig with type three or four curls and coils. But there are harm­less ways to slightly al­ter your unit: if you want more volume, grab a widetooth comb and gen­tly comb the hair, sec­tion by sec­tion, from the bot­tom up, to open each curl un­til the en­tire unit gets as big as you de­sire.

An­other way to achieve big­ger hair is with two-strand twists. Prep the hair by spritz­ing liq­uid leave-in all over, and then sec­tion it into six to 10 dif­fer­ent parts, de­pend­ing on how much hair you’re work­ing with. Next, twist each sec­tion from root to tip while hold­ing it taut. You can set the twists by ei­ther blow-dry­ing the en­tire unit or air-dry­ing it overnight (if you opt for the lat­ter, make sure to wear a bon­net or silk scarf to pro­tect hair and keep the twist in place). Once ev­ery­thing is com­pletely dry, un­ravel each twist with your fin­gers – and voilà, you’ll have big, vo­lu­mi­nous curls.

If you have a unit with looser curls (Brazil­ian wavy), you can eas­ily straighten your wig with a flat iron.

How to al­ter straight hair

The sim­plest way to curl straight hair is with a curl­ing iron or curl­ing wand. If you want tighter curls, try a small-bar­rel iron, and for big­ger curls, a large-bar­rel iron is your best friend. After you sec­tion your hair into a few parts, start at the back by wrap­ping the hair around the bar­rel while hold­ing the wand face down. As you near the top and sides, change the di­rec­tion of the wand, de­pend­ing on where you want the curl to fall, and be care­ful not to get too close to your face. Once you’ve gone over the en­tire unit, back-comb the roots for ex­tra volume. Spritz on hold­ing spray and you’re done.

For more on cus­tomis­ing your own wig, visit ilovemelt­ed­but­ter.com.

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