FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions about Wigs

There are many different kind of wig bases, or “caps”, varying in construction and size. Also, there are several different kinds of “hair”, meaning human hair versus synthetic fibers. Within these terms, there are vast differences in the texture and quality of the hair.

Wig Bases or Caps
Basically, there are three types of wig bases or caps. The cap can be machine made, hand made, or a combination of machine made and hand made.

Machine made caps are the most durable and the hair is sewn onto the cap using a sewing machine. The hair, synthetic or human, is attached to a “weft”, which is a long string on which the hair has first been sewn prior to sewing the “weft” onto the machine made cap. These types of wigs are pre-designed into a specific style and are generally the least expensive because they can be mass-produced.(See back area of wig in picture below to visualize what a “weft” is. These are the horizonatal lines)

A machine made cap is one that is “wefted” in all areas of the cap. The vertical lines are part of the cap and the horizontal lines are the “wefts” of hair that are sown onto the cap.

The combination wig cap varies between manufacturers as to the construction of the cap. In general, the crown is a fine mesh net, a monofilament fabric, or a polyurethane material, and may or may not have mesh net sides with a wefted back.

Combination Wig Cap

Combination Wig Cap

This picture represents a combination cap, meaning it has a hand tied top with wefted sides and back. Individual hairs are hand tied to the mesh net. The top, or crown, is a fine mesh and only one to two hairs are hand tied into the holes in the mesh. This type cap may or may not have a monofilament top.
These wigs are available styled, semi-styled or unstyled. This type of wig is less expensive than a fully hand tied wig, while offering some of the finer features of the hand tied wig.

A hand-tied wig cap is a slightly stretchy mesh net on which hair, synthetic or human, is tied, or knotted, by hand into the mesh netting of the wig cap. It can be semi-custom or custom made.

Hand Tied Wig Cap

Hand Tied Wig Cap

This picture represents a hand tied wig cap. The front and crown is shown in this view and is made of a fine monofilament material with a polyurethane border. Not all hand tied wig caps have a polyurethane border. This feature is very useful when hair loss is complete on the front or crown of the head, because it provides the base for double sided taped.
The crown, or top, of the wig may is made of a finer mesh net, a monofilament fabric or a thin polyurethane material. The advantage of the monofilament or polyurethane top is that the natural skin color shows through the cap and therefore is the most natural looking. These wigs are generally semi-custom or custom, and either “raw” (meaning not pre-styled), or semi-styled from the manufacturer. Because of the cost of labor, these wigs are more expensive.

The monofilament top wig cap is the most natural looking wig cap available. Like the combination cap, it also varies in construction between manufacturers; however, the basic function remains the same. It allows for the natural scalp color to be revealed, which is why it is the cap that best simulates a natural looking head of hair. The hair is hand tied into the monofilament fabric and gives the illusion of hair growing out of the scalp. The entire wig may be hand tied, or the wig may have a monofilament top with wefted sides and back. These wigs are available styled, semi styled or unstyled, depending on the manufacturer. This type of wig is the most requested and the one our owner recommends the most. Prices vary, depending on manufacturer and whether the wig is partially or fully hand tied.

Monofilament Top Wig CapThis picture, courtesy of R. Anzivino, illustrates the translucent quality of a monofilament top wig cap. The material used to construct the top varies between manufacturers.

Alan Thomas Designs has created the Dermafix Collection. This collection features a unique cap construction using the Dermafix Solution. Dermafix is a material similar to that used in the medical profession as “second skin”. When warmed by body temperature, this material will adhere to the scalp, providing a more secure attachment for those with significant or complete hair loss. This material is hypoallergenic and will not pull on existing hair. Alan Thomas will put this material in any manufacturer’s wig for an additional charge.

DermafixCap

DermafixCap

This picture, courtesy of Alan Thomas Designs, represents placement of the Dermafix Solution inside a wefted wig. Some Dermafix wigs also have a mono top, mono part or a lace front. Picture used with permission.

HOW DO I KEEP THE WIG SECURE TO MY HEAD?
How a wig is secured to the head varies between manufacturers as well. In general, all wigs will have some type of adjustable hook or Velcro strap along the nape of the neck to tighten or loosen the fit around the circumference of the head. Wigs can be altered at the crown and the back to a smaller size, but can not be made bigger. For people with partial hair loss, the wig may be secured to the hair with small combs or clips sewn into the crown, sides or back of the cap. The cap may have a polyurethane tape tab along the front, sides, or nape of the wig to allow the wig to be taped to the head when there is significant or complete hair loss. If the style you choose does not have this feature, it can be added for you. Some manufacturers will use a soft velvet-like material inside the cap to promote comfort in wearing the wig when the scalp has become tender due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. For those with complete and permanent hair loss, there are wigs (or hairpieces for partial hair loss areas) that are made with a special base that can be bonded, or glued to the head. These are semi-permanent attachments and must be removed periodically to take proper care of the scalp.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SYNTHETIC AND HUMAN HAIR WIGS?

Synthetic Hair
There is a variety of synthetic fibers used to make a synthetic wig, but all fibers are fine threads of fiber made to resemble human hair. The manufacturer may use a single type of fiber or a combination of two or three different fibers. Some of the fibers used are modacrylic and polyester. The synthetic wigs made today are more natural looking than ever before; however, as with all products, there is exceptional quality, good and poor quality synthetic wigs.
Synthetic wigs are pre-styled from the manufacturer and require very little effort on the part of the wearer with regard to combing and styling the wig when worn. These wigs are easily shampooed and should be allowed to air dry. The synthetic wig is designed to retain the original style and will not accept a permanent wave or color change. Moderate style changes can be achieved by a professional wig stylist; however, this should not be attempted by someone not trained in wig care as it is easy to permanently damage a synthetic wig by the use of curling irons, blow dryers or hot rollers.
A synthetic wig is easy to wear, however, the longer the hair is, the more quickly it will wear out because of friction against your clothing or back. The average life-span of a synthetic wig is 4-6 months at best.
Human Hair
A human hair wig is the most natural looking option available to you when you have lost your own hair. Like your own natural hair, a human hair wig can be cut, styled, permed or colored to suit your personal taste. Human hair wigs are more durable than a synthetic wig. The down side to using a human hair wig is that it requires more care than a synthetic wig. However, in our owner’s opinion, the additional effort is worth the benefit of the more natural look. When shampooed, a human hair wig will need to be restyled, just as your own natural hair. You may use curling irons, blow dryers or hot rollers to style a human hair wig; however, the best way is to use the old fashioned smooth plastic rollers and let your wig air dry. If you prefer to use rollers, brush type or Velcro rollers should be avoided because it is easy to “pull” the hair out when removing this type of roller. If you feel that you are not able to provide the care required of a human hair wig, there are human hair-synthetic blended wigs that offer a more natural look than a synthetic wig, and will retain the style better than a 100% human hair wig.
Just as there are different types of synthetic hair, there are different types of human hair used to make wigs today. Before the investment is made in a human hair wig, you should know what type of human hair is used to make the wig. Just because the label indicates that the wig is made from 100% human hair, it does not mean that the quality of the hair is acceptable or compatible with your complexion type.

Types of Human Hair
Human hair is classified into four basic types: Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Caucasian also called European hair. Each of these hair types has different genetic material, which affects the color and texture of the hair. The majority of human hair wigs are made from Chinese or Indian hair. These two hair types are widely used in the wig making industry because the hair shaft is stronger and can withstand the chemical processes used to make the hair softer, smoother and tangle free. It is also less expensive than Indonesian or Caucasian hair.
Indonesian hair is naturally softer than Chinese or Indian hair and is more expensive. Like Chinese and Indian hair, Indonesian hair requires some chemical processing to make it suitable for wig making; however, the chemical processes used for Indonesian hair are less harsh.
Caucasian, or European hair, is the softest texture of hair available. It has not been processed in any way. This type of hair is also referred to as “Virgin” hair, and it the most expensive hair available. Remy, sometimes spelled “Remi” is not a specific ethnic origin, but refers to the techniques and handling the hair undergoes to produce a wig or hairpiece. This hair has been processed to some degree, but it is processed in such a way that the cuticle is not completely stripped from the hair shaft. Maintaining a portion of the cuticle on the hair shaft allows the hair shaft to be protected and maintain most of it’s original strength and shine. Remy hair is kept in the same direction when making a wig or hairpiece as when cut from the donor’s head. This additional attention to detail maintains the hair cuticle in the same direction for each hair, which, in turn, reduces tangling.
Please note, all human hair will tangle, some more so than others, but all hair has the potential to tangle.
The average life-span of a human hair wig vaires between the quality of hair used to make the wig and the care given when shampooing, conditioning and styling. Hair that has been completely stripped of the cuticle and processed several times will last considerably less time than a high quality European hair wig. A lesser quality human hair wig may only last 6 months, whereas a high quality European hair wig, such as those sold by Georgie, Judy and Clary, can last up to 10 years.