The ins and outs of wigs (part 1)

Most people normally shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. With about 100,000 hairs in the scalp, this amount does not result in noticeable thinning. Unfortunately, hormonal factors, medical conditions and medications could cause alopecia (total/ partial hair loss) and leave you with some choices to make: bald and beautiful, scarves and hats or wigs and hairpieces.

With all the options available, it can be a challenging choice, especially if you prefer to wear a wig. You can choose something close to your natural hair and style, or be adventurous and pick to wear a new hairstyle every day!

Types of hair used for wigs

Synthetic Fibre

With technological advances, synthetic hair has come a long way in recent years.  In some cases it’s difficult to tell the difference as the denier and texture feel exactly like human hair.  As a matter of fact, with some of the higher quality synthetic pieces, you would never know they were not natural human hair if you didn’t have the human hair right next to it to compare! The most appealing aspect to synthetic hair is that it can often be worn right out of the box with little or no styling.  The fiber used has “memory” for wave, curl and volume, which lets hair bounce back into place with minimal effort – the curl pattern is permanently set.  It can even hold up in bad weather and guarantees no drooping or frizzing.

However, what synthetic hair offers in ease, it lacks in versatility.  It cannot be styled in many different ways like its human hair counterparts. Only special Heat Friendly synthetic hair is heat styleable to change the curl pattern. Synthetic hair is also less durable than human hair. With proper care you can expect synthetic hair wigs and hairpieces to last about 4-6 months – heat friendly synthetic hair 2- 3 months.

Human Hair

Human hair is, of course, the most natural looking and feeling fiber used in wigs and hairpieces, it can be styled and tinted, as with natural growing hair and it’s also extremely versatile.  It is more expensive than synthetic fiber. Other than price, the main drawback to human hair is required maintenance – as with natural hair, it requires effort.  For many, daily styling is actually preferable, as it allows for more control over the appearance, as well as a sense of normalcy that can come with the daily hair styling ritual. Keep in mind that human hair does not come out of the box ready to wear.  You may choose to have it customized by a professional stylist to get exactly the look you like.

Remy (or Cuticle Hair) 

Remy human hair is considered a premium option.  Hair follicles are kept running in the same direction when collecting and crafting the wig or hairpiece, hence tangling is greatly reduced and hair looks and feel silkier.  Remy hair can be coloured and styled to your liking.

Human Hair Blend 

This is a combination of human hair and synthetic fiber. The synthetic fiber tends to hold it’s shape after washing, thus the human hair looks natural and is more durable. The combination gives the wig more versatility and flexibility in styling. It is usually used in 25%, 35%, and 50% ratios to synthetic fibers. This proves to be one of the more popular choices, as it is more cost effective with a real look.


Standard/traditional caps

This is the most common type of wig cap. It is machine made in a stretch fabric, with the hair, hand or machine sewn, on to individual fabric wefted strips (the narrow strips of material that has hair all going in the same direction).

The cap is adjustable at the nape of the neck. These caps are a standard size designed to fit most heads and will stretch to 60cm circumference. With a standard wefted cap, hairstyle cannot be altered.

Open Cap

This cap type is a variation of the Standard wefted cap construction. The wefts are less dense and have a bit more space between them. This provides a lighter cap with better air circulation.

Monofilament wigs

Unlike most wigs, the wefted strips in monofilament wigs are not made with cloth, but with a polyester or nylon material. It creates the illusion of natural hair growth from the scalp where the hair is parted.

Each hair is individually hand-tied to a sheer base (but not entire cap). Due to the labour-intensive requirements to make monofilament wigs, they are more expensive than standard wigs featuring wefted caps. Monofilament wigs are used for women with sensitive scalps, as they do not irritate as easily as those with cloth caps sometimes do. The material also prevents a build-up of moisture by allowing the scalp to breathe.

Lace Front wig

Lace front wigs have been developed to enhance natural hairline. When combined with monofilament 100% hand-tied caps, lace front wigs are typically the most expensive and most natural looking wigs available.

Part 2 of this article in our upcoming summer edition, will provide some admirable maintenance tips for taking good care of your wig!

Written by Lizelle Janse Van Rensburg