How to Wash a Synthetic Wig, According to an Expert Stylist

Discover all the best tips.

A person wearing a pink synthetic wig and a yellow floral jumpsuit
Photo: Stocksy

There was a time when washing a synthetic wig was considered mission impossible.

The texture and composition of the synthetic hair mixed with water and shampoo would cause matting, hair loss, and ultimately, destroy the wig. However, with new advancements in the production of synthetic hair fibers, there has been an increase in the number of washable synthetic wigs available in the market.

This sudden change in the quality of the hair has left many wondering, what is the proper way to wash and style a synthetic wig without causing irreparable damage? Although this question is a bit complicated, Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist Kiyah Wright has come up with a few basic tips to simplify it.

Wright, who is a two-time Emmy Award-winning hair expert, who has worked with Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, and Taraji P. Henson, knows that in order to properly wash a synthetic wig, you need more than good products — you need a great plan.

To assist those prepared to take the journey, the superstar stylist spoke with InStyle to share tips about the best way to wash a synthetic wig.

And if you keep her expertise in mind, you'll be able to use your wig as a protective style for a little while longer.

What are your thoughts on washing synthetic wigs?

"If you want to shampoo synthetic hair, just know going into it that it's not for long-term use," says Wright. Synthetic typically means you pop on and go. Now, they are saying you can shampoo it and you can lightly curl it with a really low iron. That means they are saying it can go for a few more uses.

Before beginning the process, what is something people should know?

For straighter synthetics, use a neutral shampoo. Do not use anything that's going to strip or weigh down the synthetics because you can't put too much heat on it or you'll burn it. You can't round brush it to give it body because it'll burn.

What products would you recommend for the washing and detangling process?

I like Pantene's Classic Clean line a lot. You don't want a shampoo that has moisture, nothing that has too many stripping agents in it, because it will tangle and matte the hair up. You just need a neutral regular wash.

You also need a paddle brush. A wide-tooth comb is great too. Nothing that's going to pull the hair out too much.

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How do you treat the hair once it has been washed?

You need to let it air dry. If you want to do the old-school hard rollers, you can put those in. You can get a pack with all the sizes and roller set your hair just for body and fullness. Let it sit overnight. You can also set the wig with rollers under dryer low heat, maybe even cool.

Can you put direct heat to the wig once it is dry?

If you are going to put an iron to the hair, I would get a really low-end iron, I would get the cheapest iron I could find. You want the low end because you want something that does not go above 300 degrees.

How often and how many times can you wash it?

Maybe 15 to 20 wears before you need to shampoo it. I would only wash the ones that they say you can wash. I would only really wash the straighter ones and the ones with a little bit of body in them. You'll probably need to give the wig up after about three washes. I think three good washes would be a good three months of wearing it daily, but most people are not wearing their wigs daily.

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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