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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.