How to Wash Your Wig the Right Way

Here's some expert advice.

How to Wash a Wig

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If you’re considering changing up your hairdo but you’re having a hard time deciding which style to do, a good quality human hair wig is a great way to try out a different look. 

Wigs come in all different cuts, lengths, sizes, and colors — I guarantee you, whatever style you’re thinking about trying, there’s a wig available in exactly the same cut. That said, human hair wigs don’t come cheap, if you want one that doesn’t look like part of a halloween costume, you’re likely to pay anywhere from $300 and up.

Now that we’ve established that good wigs aren't cheap, it’s important you know how to maintain one once you've made the investment. According to Monae Everett, celebrity hairstylist and creator of the Texture Style Awards, how you wash a wig can really determine its lifespan and how "new" it looks. Below, we asked Everett to share everything you should know about washing a human hair wig.

Should you wash a human hair wig?

Absolutely! Just like you wash your natural hair, human hair wigs need a little refresh too. “You should wash anything that comes into contact with your body,” says Everett. “Not only does all hair need to be shampooed in general, it's important to remove the dirt and oils from the extensions because they lay along your scalp, forehead, neck, back etc. and can increase your chances of breakouts and acne.”

What's the best way to wash a human hair wig?

“The easiest method for shampooing a human hair wig is to fill a basin with room temperature water, add shampoo, then the wig. Next, gently scrub the wig under water,” says the stylist. 

“Rinse the wig completely and repeat. After you’ve washed the wig, apply conditioner, then detangle with a wide tooth comb or a paddle brush, starting with the ends and making your way up to the roots. Allow the hair to condition in a plastic bag for 10 minutes, then rinse the conditioner out with cool water. Hang the wig to dry. You can hang the wig using a pant hanger.”

What shampoo should you use?

According to Everett, it’s best to use  shampoos that are sulfate and paraben-free. “My go to shampoo for my wigs is Biolage Smooth Proof, it reduces frizz and increases smoothness,” she says.

Do you need to use a conditioner?

Yes. Wigs need conditioner to stay looking fresh, soft, moisturized, and shiny. Ultimately this will help the piece to last longer as well. Always apply a hydrating conditioner like, As I Am Hydration Elation Conditioner or Biolage HydraSource Conditioning Balm. “I recommend conditioning the wig directly after rinsing out the shampoo,” says Everett. “I detangle while the conditioner is on, place the wig in a plastic bag, leave the conditioner on for at least 15 mins, then rinse."

How often should you wash your wig?

If you try to curl your wig and the curls aren’t really forming, or you try to style the wig and it’s just not looking right, Everett says it’s time to give the wig a wash. “Whenever a wig is resistant to style, that's an indication of product build up,” she explains. “If the hair appears oily or doesn’t have the volume and body you're accustomed to. Or, if you  come in contact with smoke, I’d say you should definitely wash your wig — the smell of smoke can really linger in your hair."

What are some things to avoid when washing a wig?

When washing any wig, it’s important to take your time. After shampooing, make sure you detangle the hair before drying, otherwise, you’ll create tangles and knots. The more textured the hair, the more likely it is to tangle and turn into knots.

How do I dry my wig?

“If you don't have a wig stand, simply hang your wig with a pants hanger and allow it to dry,” says the stylist. “If you’re in a rush and don't have time to let the wig air dry, I recommend hanging the hair in front of a cool fan to speed up the process.” 

What is the best way to style a freshly-washed wig?

“The best way to finish your wig so that it looks as good as new is to place the wig on a wig head, add a leave-in conditioner and a foam of your choice, then blow dry the hair with a brush to create a smooth and shiny finish,” says Everett. “Then style as usual. If you’re using hot tools, after you flat iron or curl the hair, allow the hair to cool for 10 minutes before styling, this helps the style last longer.”

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