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How Do Wigs Stay On? How Long Do Wigs Stay On?

"How do wigs remain on," and "for how long?" were two common concerns about wearing a wig back then, as they are now. Let's look at wigs and how they stay in place.

A woman with pink hair wearing sunglasses enjoys the music on headphones.

My hair has been white since I was 25 years old. I dyed it the red that I was born with until I was in my 50s and decided to go natural. It’s still too thick for wearing wigs. My mother, however, had thin hair, so she wore them. Also a redhead, she chose to wear frosted blonde curly wigs, in both short and long styles. 

One of the universal worries about wearing a wig, then as now, is “how do wigs stay on,” and “for how long?” Generally, wigs can stay on for up to six weeks. It’s a sad fact that you can’t go out in a windstorm to walk the dog and worry about keeping your hair on at the same time. Let’s examine wigs and how they stay on.

Related: How to Style a Wig

Your Natural Hair

A brunette woman with long and shiny curly hair.

Men and women wear wigs for a variety of reasons. Your hair could be thinning due to age or disease, you could just need a change of scenery, or you might not appreciate your hair turning gray or white. Whatever the reason, the first thing you have to deal with is the hair you already have.

It will have to be secured before donning the wig. Those with long hair will need to braid their hair or fold it into a bun. The hair will have to be close to the head so the wig won’t poke out on the crown of the head or at the nape of the neck. Once that’s satisfactory, you’ll need to consider ways of securing the wig.

Means To Secure A Wig

There are four methods for securing a wig:

Wig Grip

A wig grip is essentially a headband that goes over your natural hairline. It closes at the nape of the neck, usually with velcro. Wig grips are made of several materials:

    • Velvet. This textile adheres to the skin and hairline without slipping. When the wig is placed over it, it won’t slip or fall off.

    • Swiss lace. Soft and breathable, Swiss lace wig grips allow the scalp to breathe while still maintaining a firm grip on the wig.

    • Velvet elastic. You read that right. Velvet doesn’t stretch, nor does it breathe. However, if you mix a stretchy material with velvet, you get a stretchy wig grip that allows the scalp to breathe. It holds the wig on tight, too.

Wig Cap

A black woman put wig cap and looks at the mirror.

Wigs already have a cap into which the hair is knotted and which fits over the head. On the other hand, if your hair is unruly, it could use some help lying flat. Wig caps answer the question of how wigs stay on. Wig caps are made of:

    • Mesh. This aerates the scalp, prevents the wig from slipping, and secures longer hair closer to the scalp.

    • Nylon. While nylon isn’t breathable, it does secure the hair without the wig slipping. It has the added bonus of keeping the wig cleaner.

Clips And Bobby Pins

There’s nothing quite like a bobby pin or a clip for keeping hair where it should be. These can be used to secure your natural hair. They can be used to secure the wig to the natural hair. They’re nigh invisible, and all the shaking in the world won’t knock ‘em out.

Adhesive

A professional hairdresser making hair extensions for blonde girl.

Those with skin not sensitive to chemicals might go for wig glue, but most people use wig tape. It’s double-sided, sticky, medical-grade, and comes in little dots, strips, and rolls. Some wigs have silicone at the ears, but you can always add some extra to make sure your wig won’t move.

How Long Do Wigs Stay On?

Keep in mind that you’re layering hair over your own natural hair. Both will have to be washed and styled. With that said, how long a wig stays on depends on if you wear your wig every day. Things to consider include:

    • Human or synthetic. Human hair wigs still retain their cuticle. Dyeing and other chemical processes will damage the hair and cuticle. So will heated drying and styling of the wig. Synthetic wigs are made of materials that don’t take well to dyeing and heated styling. 

    • Heat resistant. Synthetic wigs are sometimes labeled “heat-friendly.” This means they aren’t damaged by heated drying. Synthetic wigs have a shorter life than human hair wigs, but you can use heated styling tools up to 350 degrees. You want to limit the time using them, though, to avoid damaging the wig.

How Long Do Wigs Last?

Close up photo of humans hair wig.

Usually, human hair wigs last up to one year with proper maintenance. Synthetic wigs last up to six months. The lifespan of heat-resistant synthetic wigs is less than that. The best rule of thumb is that the less you wear your wig, the longer it will last. 

Installation

Professional wig installation generally lasts for about six weeks. It’s recommended that the wig be removed and the natural hair, as well as the wig, be washed. It comes down to how often you wear the wig.

FAQ

How Does A Capless Wig Stay On?

A wavy bleached golden blonde human hair.

A capless wig is basically a hair net or mesh with human or synthetic hair knotted into it. It stretches from the nape of the neck to the forehead. Capless wigs are secured with clips and bobby pins, tape, or glue. 

What Is This Tightening Belt In My Wig?

Some manufacturers incorporate a belt in their wigs. The tightening mechanism is at the ears. The wearer adjusts the belt to comfortably fit the head. The wig won’t slide, come loose, or come off.

Can I Sleep In My Wig?

You can, but you need to remember a couple of things. Your wig will wear out quicker due to wearing it 24/7. It will also get tangled because it’s rubbing against the pillow. To prevent these from happening, don’t wear your wig for more than three or four days. Use silk or satin pillow cases to cut down on the friction that tangles the hair.

Can I Swim In My Wig?

We don’t recommend swimming in your wig. For one thing, the weight of the water will cause the cap to be misshapen. For another, the chlorine, salt, and sun will damage and fade the hair. Some companies make water-repellent wigs, and we highly recommend this if you want to swim in your wig.