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Choosing a wig

Here’s how to select a wig that fits well, is high quality, and suits you:

  • First, measure your head with a cloth measuring tape to determine your “cap size.”  
  • Decide if you’d like a wig that’s similar in color and style to your own hair, or if you want a different look. You may want to get two wigs: one that’s more like your current hair and one that’s a fun new length, color, and/or style.
  • Consider choosing a color that is somewhat lighter than your own hair. Your skin color may be off during chemotherapy — grayish, greenish, or yellowish. Less contrast is generally more flattering, and won’t call attention to your complexion.
  • Determine if you want a wig that’s made out of a synthetic fiber, human hair, or a mixture of both. Most women choose synthetic wigs. They look and feel good, need very little attention and care, and are moderately priced. 
  • Go for the best-quality, most natural-looking wig you can afford. Key features that make a wig look realistic are a lace front and a monofilament part or top. In a lace front wig, each hair in the front of the wig is individually tied to a sheer material, creating the appearance of a natural hairline. Monofilament tops or parts make the top of the wig look realistic and are made by tying or sewing the hair in sections into the top portion of the cap, which is made from a fine, sheer material.

Putting on your wig

Follow these steps to put on your wig and get a good fit:

  • If you have natural hair of any length, you’ll need to keep it as smooth and flat as possible by pinning it down and by wearing a nylon or mesh wig cap under your wig. Even if you don’t have hair, you should in most cases wear a wig cap because it will keep the wig secure, absorb sweat, and protect your scalp from irritation. Some women choose to wear a wig band instead of or in addition to a wig cap. A wig band is similar to a head band and it doesn’t adhere to the wig but helps to keep it in place.
  • Adjust the velcro tabs located in the back of the wig to get the best fit.
  • Tilt your head forward. Using both hands, put the front of the wig at your hairline and then pull the wig on using a front to back motion. Use the ear tabs (near your temples) to help center the wig.

Caring for your wig

With proper care and storage, a synthetic wig should last for 3 to 5 months and a human hair wig should last 9 months to a year of daily wear. Here’s how to keep your wig looking good for as long as possible:

  • Wash and condition your wig after every 8 to 10 wears.
  • Give your wig “time off” on occasion by using a turban, scarf or hat
  • If you have a standard synthetic wig, keep it away from intense heat — for example, from an oven, grill, outdoor heater, or an open flame — because it could melt. In most cases, you shouldn’t use heated styling tools or a hair dryer on a synthetic wig unless it is labeled “heat friendly” or “heat defiant.”
  • If you’d like help with styling, shaping, or cleaning your wig, you can take it to a specialty hairdresser.
  • When you’re not wearing your wig, store it on a wig stand in a part of your home that that gets as little sunlight, heat, moisture, and dust as possible. You can make your own wig stand with two 64-ounce plastic soda bottles. Cut them in half, discard the tops, face the cut edges of the bottoms together, and force one inside another to get a football-shaped stand.