How To Style a Synthetic Wig, According to a Celebrity Hairstylist

Learn how to keep this protective style looking fresh.

Person styling a wig with long straight brown hair and blonde highlights
Photo: Getty Images

It is no secret that synthetic wigs are having a big moment. While in the past, they were seen as a lower-quality alternative to wigs made of human hair, advancements in synthetic fibers which allow for greater manipulation have made them competitive. In fact, many stylists and customers are now drawn to synthetic wigs. They're affordable and a great protective styling option since the wig covers your natural hair.

When it comes to creating big voluminous looks, Monaé Everett, a veteran celebrity hairstylist and the author of Get Out of Your Own Way!, uses synthetic wigs to give her looks a boost. "Most people think that you can't do anything with synthetic hair and that's not true," says Everett. Having worked with celebrity clients like Yara Shahidi, Tia Mowry, and Danai Gurira, Everett understands that being able to successfully style synthetic wigs can provide added benefits to her clients. With the right tools and a solid plan in place, Everett believes styling synthetic wigs can be a simple process that anyone can do at home to add versatility to their looks.

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

InStyle: What are your thoughts on styling synthetic wigs?

Monae Everett: I used to not be a fan but since I started working a lot with natural hair, I've actually become a fan of synthetic hair. A lot of times synthetic hair can hold the shape better to match natural hair. For natural coily texture or big looks, synthetic really comes in handy.

What type of synthetic wigs is the best to style?

In my experience, the curly and kinky synthetic hair blends better with natural hair, but I have done quite a few movies and productions where we used synthetic hair for really big styles.

How do you prepare to style a synthetic wig?

I shampoo and condition [to start], but a lot of times, I am soaking the hair in two or three parts water and one part apple cider vinegar to really take that film and the extra shine off of it, that's really important for making it look like real hair. Then, allow it to air dry.

What do you do after you wash the wig?

If you need to create a shape that the wig did not come in, you may try to set it at that point or you may decide to let it dry mostly and then use hot rollers. You can also blow dry it on a low setting to create a shape.

What are the best styling tools?

I like a lot of Fromm Pro. I love their combs and brushes, especially their round brushes for blowdrying. I do create a lot of volume and lift with these brushes.

I love their styling combs because I can use that to backcomb. That's the best part about synthetic hair, it holds a backcomb or tease the best. When you need really big hair like an afro, like a beehive, or a soft Bantu knot, you can achieve it with synthetic wigs.

What are some of your go-to synthetic wig styles?

I love to use synthetic hair for multiple reasons. It really comes in handy when creating big, full, natural hairstyles. Synthetic hair maintains its shape and fullness without falling flat from the weight of the hair or humidity. I also love to use synthetic hair when creating large bouffant hairstyles.

What is your advice for creating an updo look?

A lot of times with an updo, if I'm using a wig, it has to be a partial wig. It's really important to have the person's natural [hair] show to blend because you can always tell a synthetic wig at the hairline. I also use a lot of synthetic crochet hair and just work it in.

How often can you style a synthetic wig?

Heat is no friend of synthetic wigs, so I would say after you shampoo it, you may be able to change it again, but at most like three different styles. Especially if you're trying to really change it. I would not recommend doing a whole bunch of different styles.

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