How To Make Synthetic Hair Look Realistic
By, Tia Vaught
As a wig coach, reviewer and retailer, I have worn over 1000 wigs....at least!!! Though I have been wearing wigs on and off since HS, the last seven years I have been committed to reviewing, learning, and sharing all that I have learned over the years. There are more than 1400 videos on my channel, many of which can serve as your personal wig coaching, teaching you how to wear wigs, tips and tricks, as well as techniques to making your wig look as natural as possible. These videos can be found in my Wigs 101 playlist and include step-by-step instructions, demos, as well as “quick coaching” videos to help you become the master of your wig game! I also have a series, Wig Tips, which explores beyond the “how-tos” and provides more practical and even funny information about wig life, like how and where to purchase wigs, daily wig question including wearing wigs at the gym, wig secrets and realities, as well as informational topics such as the History of Wigs.
During the course of my wig life, I have learned A LOT of tips and techniques to making my wigs look as natural and realistic as possible. These tips will help to shorten your wig learning curve - some of which I have rarely or ever shared before!
Tip #1: Get Mentally Prepared to Wear a Wig
Before you even touch your wig, the first step is mental. Wig stigma, fear, or misconceptions can play a huge role in seeing yourself in a wig and feeling it looks “realistic”. For some, putting on a wig and feeling confident comes naturally, but for others, wearing a wig comfortably may take a little time and work. But just like with anything, practice and experimentation can make all the difference! Here’s an assignment…spend some time looking a photo of real women wearing wigs and those who have natural hair that you love. Why? I have found that one of the biggest fears women have about wearing wigs is that they are afraid that they will look fake or “wiggy”. I recently did a video where I explored the hairlines and parts of wigs vs. bio hair. I wanted to see for myself if wigs were as detectable as we believe they are in our heads. What I found will surprise you as I really surprised me!
Tip #2: Research, Research, Research
This leads me into my second tip: research! I really believe that being informed is the best tool that you have available. Wigs can look very realistic and like with anything else, the more you know the more you grow. That could not apply more to wearing wigs. Whenever I make a video, I do extensive research and add what I have learned to my personal experience. Whenever questions or concerns you have about wigs – look them up. Watch YouTube videos, read blogs like this one, and visit FB groups dedicated to wigs. You will learn so much! That being said, keep in mind that wearing wigs is very personal and we all have different preferences. Take and incorporate what you learn that applies to you and add it you your growing knowledge.
Tip #3: Hairline Tricks
Now that you have done some research and understand the ways that wigs can look more like natural bio hair, let’s talk lace! Not all wigs have lace fronts, but if plan to purchase a lace front or already own one, I’ve got a few tricks to make your hairline look more realistic. Some lace front wigs come with pre-cut, ready to wear lace and others come with lace that will need to be trimmed down.
If you plan to utilize your own hair to blend the wig, then feel free to cut the lace back right up to the wig’s hairline if you desire. However, if you are not using your bio hair to blend the wig, cut the lace based on how your natural hairline is, or would be. Remember - our hairlines are not perfect and are unique to our heads – so your wig’s hairline should follow suit. I have found that embracing the natural imperfections that parts and hairlines have really contribute to wigs looking more realistic.
Speaking of your natural hairline, here’s a bonus tip. One thing I have been doing lately, which has helped my wigs look more convincing, is to keep my widow’s peak, sideburns, and the patches of hair around my hairline that extend past my wig’s hairline intact. Though I shave down the sides and back of my bio hair, I leave enough in these areas that help create a “natural” illusion around the hairline.
Tip #4: Look for Rooted Wigs or Create Your Own
Ok, now that we have explored the hairline, let’s move on to the rooting area and the part area of the wig. Have you ever noticed that wigs with some rooting (a darker color at the root of the wig that mimics bio hair) look more natural? If you’re looking to create the illusion of bio hair, choose a rooted style or create roots using a variety of products.
I have many videos on the technique of creating roots , but one of the most important elements is to be sure to root the wig along the parting space as well as along the hairline. Believe it or not, you most likely already have the products that you need to create rooting! Products that can be used to achieve roots include brow powders and matte eyeshadows of the color desired. Colored dry shampoos and root sprays are quite effective as well. These sprays can allow you to blend in your bio hair along the hairline for a seamless look – especially if your hair is not quite the color of the roots. Keep in mind these products are not waterproof and can come off on your hands or be washed out. If you require a more waterproof option, then alcohol-activated face & body paint (makeup) would be best.
Tip #5: Create a More Natural-Looking Part with Powder
Now that the rooting looks more natural, let’s work on the part. Using powder in the part that matches your skin tone can help it look more like your scalp. To add further seamlessness, I place powder all along the hairline - where the lace and knots meet your skin. In the parting area, I use the same color powder as my skin tone or just slightly lighter, as our scalp can often be. Along the hairline, I use powder that is the same color as my skin tone and add a bit of bronzer where it would naturally fall on my forehead and temples near the wig. The TMW Wig Blending Kit is perfect for helping you do this.
We are getting closer now! There are several things you can “do” to the wig to ensure it looks more undetectable. Other than creating rooting, adding “baby hairs" and sideburns can serve more than one purpose. They can mimic numerous natural hairlines but don’t forget your research…not all hairlines look the same. Moreover, baby hairs and sideburns can be gelled or "laid" down, which can add a bit of security without having to glue down the entire wig.
Tip #6: It Doesn’t Need to Look Perfect
The most important tip is to avoid making the wig look too perfect. If you want your wig to look natural, remember that hair is free moving, can have a mind of its own, and is not usually keen to stay put - unless styled that way. As I say, “gruff it up a bit”! Lol! When I say "gruff it up" a bit, I mean shake out the wig and break up the part – separating it from any permatease that may be present. Play around with the fibers of the part until it looks … “right” to you.
Finger-pick and fluff up the wig with your hands. Sometimes playing around with combing and moving around the fibers of a wig can really do wonders! As I said before, your head and hairline are unique to you, don’t expect your wig to come already prepared for it. A synthetic wig may look like human hair, but it is in fact fibers. From the wig’s assembly to packaging and shipping, those fibers can arrive to you flatten and tight to one another. The warmth of your hands and some gruffing can make your wig come alive.
Finally, feel free to style and accessorize! Treat your wig as you would your bio hair or the dream hair you have always wanted!! Experiment: clip it up, add a headband, put it in a pony…. have fun with it! My motto is: Life is short wear wigs!!