Wig enthusiasts know that there are two types of hair wigs – synthetic and human hair. But do you know how to straighten synthetic or human hair wig products?
I’ve always found that each type has its merits and demerits. But when it comes to straightening, synthetic hair wigs tend to demand more care than human hair ones.
This is because they are made out of plastic and/or other fibers, which are heat sensitive and might melt. Human hair, on the other hand, is much more resistant to heat.
However, hair experts believe that one must pick their method of straightening based on the level of heat resistance, and not necessarily based on the material.
You can quickly do a compatibility test before you begin each method to check if your wig complies with it.
Below I’ve listed out a few methods you can use to straighten synthetic or human hair wigs. These methods are listed based on the wig’s resistance to heat.
How To Straighten Synthetic Or Human Hair Wig
Setting Up Your Wig
The first thing a wig owner has to do, is to invest in a Styrofoam wig head.
As the name suggests, they are made out of styrofoam and look like a human head, complete with a neck and vague facial features.
They are usually available in costume shops and beauty stores, and if you’re lucky, even in an arts and crafts store.
Next, you need to place the styrofoam/wig head on a secure stand so that the strands can fall loosely and comfortably.
You can either purchase wig stands, or fix one up yourself using the things available in your apartment.
A glass bottle (filled with water/sand/pebbles) is a great temporary alternative; and a camera tripod works like a charm as you can rotate the wig head at any angle.
While placing the wig over the styrofoam head, make sure you secure it with either sewing pins or T-pins.
Usually, one is advised to push a pin right through the top of the head, along the sides, and at the temple and nape.
Detangling is an important step across all of the straightening methods. Work on the strands gently, in small sections.
Use a wide-toothed comb or a wire wig brush. Never use your personal hairbrushes and combs, the oils from your natural hair can damage the wig fibers.
Make sure you use hairbrushes designed specifically for wigs. You can also use your fingers.
You can follow one of the four straightening methods mentioned below, based on the quality of your wig and its level of heat resistance.
Flat Iron Method for heat resistant wigs
The flat iron method is suitable for heat-resistant human hair wigs and synthetic wigs. First and foremost, make sure you check if your wig is of premium high quality and can take the heat.
Make sure the wig is detangled, and spray some heat/wig protectant from the root of the strands to the tips.
This will lock in the moisture and create a protective barrier around the hairs to prevent possible damage caused by the heat.
Now onto the flat iron. There are two things to keep in mind before you start straightening.
One, make sure the hair straightener you are using has a temperature control feature; and two, make sure the wig is completely dry before ironing it. We also advise using heat-resistant gloves.
Preheat the straightener by setting it to the lowest temperature. Now, set the temperature between 110-121°C (or 230–250 °F).
If the wig strands are very thick, you can set the temperature to 121-133°C as well.
Create different sections of hair using clips, and begin working slowly on your wig.
You can start with the strands that are at the bottom, and then straighten the middle section of the wig, and finally the top portion.
Once you are done, leave it untouched for at least five minutes.
After cooling the wig and letting it set, take a wide-toothed brush and evenly comb the strands. You can choose to use some styling hair spray as well.
Hot Water Method for cheaper, less resistant wigs
While this method is suitable for both human hair wigs and synthetic wigs, it is important to keep in mind that the human hair wig might get ruined if you are unable to do it properly.
So avoid applying the hot water method to human hair wigs unless you have experience.
This method is usually recommended for cheaper wigs – so that you don’t feel too bad for ruining them – as it is slightly accident-prone.
After having pinned your wig onto the styrofoam, detangle the strands by gently running a comb through them. It is ideal to follow this method in the bathroom.
First, heat a vessel or pot of water – its quantity will depend on the length of your hair – and wait till it comes to boil.
Do a small heat test by dipping a few strands into the water to see if it can take the heat. Once you are confident that this method is suitable for the wig, gently dip the tips of the rest of the strands.
Now transfer the rest of the hot water all over the wig. Do this slowly to prevent it from splashing and burning you. We highly recommend using heat-resistant gloves for this reason.
Now, let the wig cool. Once it is dry, run a wide-toothed brush through the hair and comb it evenly.
If the wig is still warm, use your fingers to comb the hair to avoid causing damage and breakage of strands.
Repeat the entire process if required.
Steam Method for synthetic wigs
This method, which is only applicable for synthetic wigs, requires a portable steamer. It is recommended for the more fragile wigs so that you do not end up causing damage or breakage of hair.
As always, do a heat test for a small section of the hair before you begin.
First, plug the steamer to preheat it. As the steamer preheats, patiently detangle the wig strands; don’t be too harsh.
Clip different sections of the wig before you begin working. Next, take the wig brush in one hand and the steamer in the other.
Brush the strands in each section slowly and carefully. Work on each section at least three times or until you’re satisfied with the result.
There are two important tips to remember while using the steamer, to prevent ruining your wig.
One, do not hold the steamer too close to the wig; and two, do not hold the steamer in one position for too long.
Once you’re done, unplug the steamer. Wait for the wig to cool down and then air dry it.
As soon as the wig is dry, you can use some styling spray or apply some leave-in conditioner all over the strands, especially the tips.
Hair Dryer Method for high quality wigs
The hair dryer method is suitable for high quality synthetic as well as human hair wigs. This is not recommended for poor quality wigs as the strands need to have good resistance.
Regardless of the quality, it is always safe to do a compatibility test of a small section before getting into it completely. A bad sign would be when the hair becomes frizzy when blow dried, or worse, it melts.
To start, completely detangle the wig with a wide-toothed comb. Set the temperature on the blow dryer to warm or medium, never more than that.
Divide the hair into sections (of 2-4 inches). Hold one section tightly by its end. Try to hold it as straight as possible for best results.
Then, while holding the section, use the blow dryer on it with the other hand.
Always start straightening from the roots, to the tips of the hair. Do not hold the nozzle too close to the wig, and do not hold the hair dryer in one position for too long.
Be gentle and try to spread the heat evenly, section by section. This is a long drawn process so it is important to be patient.
FAQs – How to straighten synthetic or human hair wig
How to work with a straightener which does not have a heat range option?
You can make sure the straightener does not overheat and go through small sections of the wig slowly. However, investing in a good straightener is necessary if you own a wig.
Is there an alternative for a styrofoam head?
Again, investing in one is a great idea, they are affordable and inexpensive. But you can always use something which is conical or spherical and can be secured at the bottom. Something like a globe.
Will the wig return to its original style after a while or are the effects more long-lasting?
The effects are not permanent, like in the case with natural hair. Straightening your wig using a flat iron (that is if you own a heat-resistant wig) will make it last longer as compared to the other methods.
Hair extensions and wigs are a quick and fun way to add some colour and panache to your look.
They are becoming increasingly popular among young adults and adults alike across the world.
If you’re planning to nosedive into the wig culture, it becomes important to familiarise yourself with appropriate ways to style and care for your wigs.
The ways we straighten synthetic or human hair wigs is much different from the routine that we employ for our natural hair.
So using the right wig care is essential to making your wigs last longer and keeping them looking healthy and soft.