beauty

TRIED AND TESTED: "I tried the Kardashian-style wig that genuinely looks like real hair."

Mamamia’s Tried and Tested series is your weekly review of the latest to hit our desks in beauty, health and wellness. You won’t find any #sponsored content here, just honest, relatable and independent advice. This week, Senior Lifestyle Writer Amy Clark learnt all about wigs and how to wear them.

Last week, I posted a selfie on Instagram and I’ve never received so many DMs in my entire life. (Not thousands, but in the triple digits.)

Why? Because it looked like I’d swapped my long, natural red hair for a platinum blonde lob.

The responses from friends and strangers ranged from ‘holy heck you look like a completely different person’, to ‘TELL ME WHO DID YOUR COLOUR’. But the thing is… it was a wig.

People have been wearing wigs for decades, for fun and really not so fun reasons. But they haven’t always looked like real hair, which is especially sh*t if you want to wear one because you’re experiencing hair loss, are going through cancer treatment, or live with a condition like alopecia that affects your hair growth.

Take a look at the ups and downs of life with and without hair in the video below. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

Now, largely thanks to people like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, wigs are fashionable, not daggy. In 2020, they look more real than they ever have before, which is why everyone from Instagram influencers and the Kardashian-Jenners, to Jane from accounts and JLo during her epic Super Bowl performance are wearing wigs that don’t look like wigs at all.

But what is it actually like to put on and wear a wig if you don’t have an A-list glam squad to expertly fit it for you? And do they look as good as a full head of hair in real life?

To find out, I did what any person would do. I wore one for a day. Here’s how that went.

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But first, let’s talk about wigs.

 

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The first thing to know about wigs is not all are created equal.

The kind of wig I’m talking about today is a professional wig designed to be worn daily, not a fun cheapie dress-up party one. Comparing the two would be like comparing a big, glorious ball of mozzarella to a single slice of plastic cheese.

Human hair wigs.

Professional wigs come in different designs and made from different types of ‘hair’, but the most realistic-looking ones are made from human hair.

MANE, the Melbourne-based Lady Startup company who design the style of wig I wore for this story, make their wigs using 100 per cent raw, ethically-sourced human hair. This means A) it looks like real hair and B) you can treat it like real hair. Honest, it won’t melt like a wig made from synthetic plastic hair would. Go all out and wash, cut, dye, blow-dry and heat style human hair wigs however you like.

Lace front wigs.

The wig I wore is also a lace front wig. Lace front wigs are, generally speaking, designed as a cap with very delicate mesh lace at the front. The hair strands are individually sewn into the lace with a set part (middle, side or off centre), mimicking the look of a natural hair part.

Lace front wigs look more natural than full cap wigs because you can trim the lace front and blend it into your skin (more on how to do that in a bit), and they’re also lighter and more breathable.

How much is a really good wig?

If we’re talking about professional wigs intended for regular use, a good quality wig can cost anywhere between $900 to $5,000 depending on the hair length and density, and whether it’s a lace front wig or has a different design.

The MANE wig I was loaned to wear for a day is called the ‘Lobby’ style and costs $999. It has a lace front – which is how it looks so real on the hairline – flexible clips and adjustable hooks to fit it to the size of your head. It also comes with a hair cap and a tooth comb for styling.

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It’s a heck of a lot of money to spend on something you only plan to wear once, but for people who would use a wig regularly, it’s worth the investment. (Cost-per-wear?)

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World, meet Lobby! Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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Here's a closer look at the lace front and how it makes the part look so real. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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How to put on a wig.

The answer is, there's more than one way you can put on a wig and it depends on how you want to wear it: clipped in, taped, or glued down.

Before getting to that stage, you'll need to slick your natural hair back as flat against your head as possible, while keeping it parted in the same way as your wig (for example, my wig had a centre part).

People with short hair can do this by pinning a small ponytail up against the scalp or making a small, low bun. If you've got long or thick hair like mine, separate the hair into two sections, plait it and then pin it into flat buns at the nape of your neck.

Next, use a comb and some hair gel to really slick your hairline back and get any baby hairs off your skin so they don't stick out and blow your cover. At this point, you can either pop a cap that looks like stocking material over your hair or keep it as is.

From here, MANE founder Dani Sanby told Mamamia the quickest way to wear a wig like hers is to pop it on your head and secure by adjusting the straps and clips. This works a treat for a night out or occasional wear, but if you want the wig to look as realistic as possible, taping and glueing is the way to do it. (Here's a short wig video tutorial below.)

"To tape a wig down, buy some special wig tape online. It's basically double-sided tape that costs around $15. You apply this to your natural hairline all the way around the front and down to the ears, then line up the wig part to your hair part, peel the top layer of the tap off and press the wig down into position," she said.

"Alternatively, using a temporary glue product like the Schwarzkopf Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray you can get at most pharmacies will give the most seamless result. To glue your wig, spray the glue along your hairline and a bit onto your skin, line the wig up and press down. You can remove any glue on your skin with micellar water on a cotton bud."

Whichever way you want to secure your wig, the last steps are to carefully trim your lace front to match your hairline, and blend the lace into your skin by applying whatever you've got on your face - foundation, concealer or powder - to the lace with a fine, small makeup brush.

Here are my before and after shots!

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BEFORE: Me with my natural hair. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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lace front wig australia
STEP 1: Pin the hair as flat as you can get it. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
lace front wig australia
STEP 2: Gel hairline back, and if you want, chuck on a cap. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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STEP 3: Start to place the wig into position and wonder what you've done when you realise it looks a bit like a mullet. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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Here's what it looks like on from the back without any styling. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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Here's what it looks like with a few curls through it. Hot tip - style it on a mannequin head before putting it on if you can. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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AFTER: I'M BLONDE. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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Was the wig comfortable and did it look real?

Multiple people in my office thought they'd missed a memo about a new starter when I walked in wearing my wig. Several colleagues thought I'd actually dyed my hair blonde, and the rest figured out it was a wig, but couldn't get over how real it looked.

There are two reasons why this wig looks particularly real. The first is it's not made with that much hair. Old-fashioned wigs are very heavy and full, but having less hair actually makes a wig more natural-looking and lighter to wear, which is really important for women who wear wigs for practical and/or personal reasons.

The darker roots of this wig also add to its real-ness. Because who do you know with platinum blonde hair who doesn't have any regrowth?

As for what it was like to wear, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t itchy at all. For me, it got itchier towards the end of the day, and mostly just around my hairline where my cap was digging into my skin.

That said, the wig was very light and my head didn't feel hot underneath. It stayed in place all day and was comfortable, but I could still feel I was wearing a wig.

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It still looked just as great after nine hours of wear. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
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The dried gel isn't attractive, and next time, I won't wear a cap as it cut into my skin a little bit. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

A final thought on wigs...

For me, wearing this wig was a fun experiment I could take off at the end of the day. But for many people, wigs mean a lot more.

So much of our self-worth, confidence and identity is tangled up in our hair. Personally, I can't imagine being without mine, which is why having access to well-made wigs that look real and are affordably-priced can change someone's life.

I don't have anything else to compare the wig I wore to, but going off the number of people in person and online who genuinely thought I'd cut and coloured my hair, I'd say it's a good one.

Did I want to take it off by the end of the day? Absolutely. Could I wear it every day if I wanted to for whatever reason? 100 per cent.

And to end on an irrelevant observation: I'm not convinced blondes really have more fun.

Feature image: Supplied/Amy Clark. 

Have you worn a wig before? Tell us about your experiences and tips in the comments below!

Mamamia's Tried and Tested series drops every week. Want us to trial and review a product or treatment you've seen everywhere? Easy, just send an email to [email protected] 

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