Wig Basics

A wig is an artificial covering for the head consisting of an interwoven network of hair. There are men's and women's styles, and the hair can be human or synthetic. Available styles include full cap, open cap or partial coverage (wiglet). A wig can be hand tied, machine tied, or a combination of both methods. A 100% hand-tied cap allows the hair to move freely for a more natural look. Some designs referred to as hand-tied feature a combination of hand-tied and machine-attached hair. This means that some areas (generally the part or crown) are attached by hand, but the rest is machine-attached. If you want the entire cap to be hand-tied, look for a wig that is labeled as 100% hand tied!


Ready-made wigs are available in stores, online and by mail order. They are one-size-fits-all models that adjust to individual heads by means of either a stretchy foundation or adjustable sections around the edge of the foundation. Ready-made wigs can be made of either synthetic or human hair and are available in either machine-made or hand-tied versions. Customers who are willing to pay more for a better fit can purchase semi-custom wigs that are hand-knotted on different sizes and shapes of stock foundations. The best fit, however, is achieved with a custom-made wig. Made to the customer's exact head measurements, these wigs are held in place by tension springs or adhesive strips, or can be clasped to existing growth hair. Silicone foundations can be molded to the exact head shape, so that they are held in place by a suction fit.

Machine-made wigs are fabricated by weaving hair into wefts (hair shafts that are woven together at one end into a long strip). These can be sewn in rows to a net foundation. When the hair is disturbed, by blowing wind for example, the foundation shows through the hair. Because of this, these wigs are less desirable for people who have no hair under the wig. Hand-tied wigs, on the other hand, give a more natural look, particularly if slightly different shades of hair are blended before being applied to the foundation. Hand-tied wigs shed hair and must be repaired from time to time. With proper care, human hair wigs generally last for two to six years.


Wigs are used by a variety of people for many different reasons: cancer patients with hair loss from chemotherapy and radiation treatment, women who have thin hair and want a fuller, thicker appearance, women who enjoy the convenience of not having to spend hours on their hair, and those who want to experience fantasy styles and colors without subjecting their hair to the chemical process necessary to achieve them. Whatever your reasons are, knowing the options available to you is the first step to choosing the right wig.