African-American woman smiling wearing a wig

When I first started wearing wigs as a protective style, it took me a while to figure out what wigs suited my personal aesthetic and most importantly my budget. Luckily for me, the natural hair community was taking shape online, so several naturalistas had YouTube reviews on various wig brands and retail outlets.

Since then, wigs have become more popular amongst naturalistas as protective styles. Here's a guide on how you can use them while caring for your natural hair.

1. Find The Right Wig

Wigs are available at many local beauty supply stores as well as online e-commerce sites such as wigs.com, elevatestyles.com and rpgshow.com. You can browse several styles according to the hair type, length, cut, color and parting how you'd like. You can learn more about my favorite wigs in every category here.

Generally, synthetic wigs tend to be cheaper, but they don't last as long while wigs made with virgin human hair can cost several hundred dollars, but if well-maintained can be used for months as protective styles. When finding the right wig, also take into consideration its cap construction. Higher end wigs tend to have a full cap construction made of swiss lace. Mid-tier units tend to incorporate lace fronts but with a smaller budget, you're likely to get synthetic lace wigs.

The main difference between swiss and synthetic lace, tends to be that the former is more breathable than the latter. This can, in the long term, be better for the health of your natural hair and scalp.

2. Prep Your Hair

Assuming you've found the right wig, go ahead and prep your hair for your protective styles. Remember, our natural hair is fragile, so even while wearing wigs, it's imperative that we keep our ends protected.

It's best to wear wigs on freshly cleansed and moisturised hair. Avoid applying heavy pomades and butters that can clog your scalp's pores or leave excessive residue on your wig. As best as you can, have your hair in neat cornrows or even two-strand twists. Leaving your hair in a shrunken fro will only lead to tangling and matting under your wig.

Remember, the goal of protective styles is to give our hair a break from manipulation to preserve its health in the long run.

3. Care For Your Edges

In my experience as a blogger, losing your edges has to be one of the top concerns of readers who are hesitant to wear wigs. Now trust me, I get it. When I first started wearing wigs, I made the mistake of securing them with old bobby pins or worse still, combs. Within a couple of months, I noticed my edges were receding!

Over time, I've learned to better care for my edges. First, I apply castor oil at least twice a week between uses. Castor oil is speculated to stimulate one's hair follicles leading to hair growth.

Secondly, I use bobby pins to avoid scratching my scalp and tearing at hair shafts as I secure my wig. I make sure to regularly shift the placement of my bobby pins to avoid causing too much wear and tear on my hair.

Lastly, I avoid glue and tape, by all means, possible as they are known to pull out entire hair bulbs especially when the wig is being removed.

4. Keep Your Hair Cleansed and Moisturized

Remember to take care of your natural hair. This means keeping it cleansed and moisturised even as you wear wigs. I tend to take off my wigs at the end of the day to allow my scalp to breathe. I keep up my regimen as usual by deep conditioning weekly and sealing in the moisture with a light oil like argan or grapeseed oil. I also take time to re-tuck in my ends to ensure they can fully benefit from being protected.

In addition, I take breaks from wigs and switch up my protective styling using two strand twists or braid outs. Wearing wigs for excessive periods of time can lead to scalp irritation or even fungal infections. I try to keep my wigging cycles up to 8 weeks and then give my hair 4 weeks to aerate.

5. Care For Your Wigs

To get the most out of your unit, be sure to wash it at least once every two weeks with a mild shampoo. Depending on whether it is made of human hair or not, you can go on to deep condition it, particularly if you've applied dyes to it. Most units will come with an instruction manual on how to care for the wig so take some time to read this carefully in order to increase the shelf-life of your unit.

Do you wear wigs as protective styles? If so, how often do you wear them and how do you keep a healthy regimen and care for your scalp?

Leave us a note down below!

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