The ancient Egyptians shaved their heads as protection from lice and from the brutal sun. However, they wore wigs made from human hair or other cheaper substitutes using sheep’s wool or palm leaf’s fiber. They also wore wigs to denote their social status.
Similarly, the ancient Romans wore wigs made of their slaves’ hair and added elaborate hairpieces for increased volume and effect. Other ancient civilizations known to have worn wigs included the Greeks, Assyrians, and the Phoenicians.
The term “wig” derives from the French word perruque, referring to a complete head of false hair, which became colloquially known as a peruke, periwyk, and periwig. During the reign of Louis XIII, who went prematurely bald, wigs became fashionable and indicated one’s class and income as well as became the target of snatchers.
On the other hand, the ancient civilizations in the Far East such as China and Japan weren’t as fond of wigs. Only their traditional actors and female entertainers such as the Japanese geisha or the Korean Kisaeng were known to wear wigs.
The different types of wigs
When it comes classifying wigs, there are two main distinctions – the wig hair (i.e. hair fiber) and wig cap construction. We cover all types for both categories below.
1. Remy Human Hair Wigs
Remy human hair wigs are the highest quality human hair wigs and the best wigs overall.
You can style it, cut, curl, straighten or dye it (amazing).
What distinguishes this type of wig from regular human hair wigs is the cuticle layer is still intact.
What’s the cuticle layer?
It’s the outer layer of each hair strand. The root and tip are in the same direction so that the cuticle doesn’t matte or tangle.
It’s smoother, healthier and shinier than non-Remy human hair wigs.
When you want the very best quality wig that not only is real hair but gives you the option to treat it like your own hair, go with a Remy human hair wig. Note that they are also more expensive than other wigs.
2. Human Hair Wigs
Human hair wigs are as real and authentic looking as they come because they’re made from natural hair. The wig advancements for these types of wigs is amazing.
While human hair wigs are more expensive than wigs made of synthetic hair. If you’re wondering where they get the hair for these wigs, the answer is simple: the hair comes from all over the world, including Europe, China, Africa, and many other countries.
The price you pay for these types of wigs depends on the quality of the hair itself so the prices can vary greatly across the different wigs available. If you’re considering purchasing a wig made of real human hair, it is recommended that you research the different types of human hair first because this is the best way to ensure you get the wig that works best for you.
As a general rule, people who do best with wigs made of human hair include those who want shoulder-length or long hair, those who want to be able to change their hairstyles frequently, people wanting the best-quality hair texture available, and those who wear wigs for a very long time. Once you purchase a wig made of real human hair, you will find it difficult to go back to any other type of wig.
3. Synthetic Hair Wigs
Not surprisingly, wigs made out of synthetic hair called synthetic wig are a lot less expensive than those made with real human hair but these wigs are made much better nowadays and can still provide a very realistic, attractive look.
For the most part, however, synthetic hair wigs usually don’t last very long and are not good for those people who use a lot of styling tools on them even though there are “heat safe” types of synthetic hair wigs. Often, a wig made out of synthetic hair consists of many different types of hair and you can treat it just the same as you would a wig made of human hair.
Wigs made out of synthetic hair usually work best for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money, prefer short- to mid-length hair, don’t need or want much styling or care for the wig, and intend to use the wig only on a short-term basis. Synthetic wigs serve a good purpose but most people agree that for long-term use and for the most attractive look, wigs made out of real human hair are best.
4. Capless Wigs
What is a capless wig?
It’s a basic wig cap also referred to as a wefted or open-cap wig.
It’s machine-made where wefts are sewn onto strips of thin elastic material that becomes the cap itself. However, because it’s not a solid surface, it’s “capless” which allows for airflow.
Because there are spaces between the wefts, there is airflow to help keep from your scalp overheating.
This type of wig offers full coverage.
5. Lace Front Wigs
Just as the name implies, these types of wigs have lace only in the front portion of the unit. The rest of the cap is a little thicker and there might be clips sewn into it so that the wig stays in place while you’re wearing it.
Lace front wigs are very common and the remainder of the wig usually consists of material that is unlikely to rip or tear away at the lace, in part because it is made out of a material that isn’t very fragile. With this type of wig, the wearer can actually select his or her own hairline, thanks to the way the wig is made. Because the lace is only found in the front section of the wig, you can part the wig any way you want to.
6. Monofilament Wigs
If you want the most natural-looking wig available, try the monofilament cap wig. In this type of wig, either polyester or nylon micro mesh is used and individual strands of hair are attached by hand. In fact, it even looks the same as the skin surrounding your hair and it can be parted or brushed in any direction you wish. The material used is a lot softer than the regular cap used by many wig-making companies so they are perfect if you have thinning or balding hair or a sensitive scalp.
Monofilament wigs are usually either partially or fully hand-tied and even though the fully hand-tied type is very expensive, this wig is also the most natural-looking. This is partly because the hand-tied hairs or fibers are actually found over the entirety of the wig, meaning that it costs more to make it.
If you’re interested in purchasing a monofilament wig but think that your budget won’t allow it, you can choose one that is skin-top or skin-part, which is often much cheaper. These are usually made with a wefted cap and less micro-mesh than the regular monofilament wigs, allowing them to be less expensive.
7. Full Lace Wigs
Full lace wigs are made on a full-sized lace cap but also include urethane strips to stick the adhesives too. There is a lot of variety with a full lace wig and they can be styled, parted, or brushed in any way you wish.
These types of wigs are a bit more expensive than standard wigs but they are well worth the price since they tend to last a lot longer and are much more versatile than standard wigs are. In fact, if you wear wigs regularly and want the most realistic-looking wig available, a full lace wig is definitely what you should be looking for.
8. 100% Hand-Tied Wigs
100% hand-tied wigs are wigs where the strands are hand-tied to the cap.
Both synthetic and human hair wigs can be hand-tied.
This method for making wigs result in a more natural-looking appearance because it replicates more what natural hair is like compared to a machine-made wig.
You can change the part and enjoy more styling options.
9. French Drawn Top Wig
What is a French Drawn Top Wig?
French knot wig caps are three layers which conceal the knotting for an even more realistic look.
The three layers with this type of wig are:
Glass Silk which is the layer that rests on your scalp.
The Swiss or fine Lace surface is in the middle which is where the knots are attached to.
The third layer is another Glass Silk layer concealing the knotting.
10. Basic Cap Wigs
Most wigs do not actually contain a cap per se but rather have a cap-like structure that is actually made of rows upon rows of hair wefts constructed by a sewing machine. Its top normally has a top or crown that is closed and usually shorter fibers that are put there in order to hide the cap so the wig looks more natural. Since these wigs are made by machines, they tend to be very affordable and there are many types of them to choose from.
A capless wig is a little cooler and more lightweight because its hairpieces are continued over the top part of the wig. There is also a type with wefts that are spaced out a little further apart and although it does allow some of your own hair to show through, it is often a more comfortable and airy type of wig to wear. These are often called a thin-wefted cap wig.
11. Non-Slip Wig
These can also be called suction wigs and they work best for people who are completely bald. They consist of a base made out of transparent polyurethane and monofilament that gently grips your scalp and therefore needs no elastic adjusters.
Some anti-slip wigs are even made with a lace front and they come in various sizes and types, including both synthetic and human hair.
If you aren’t completely bald, you can still wear these types of wigs, although they do work better for people whose hair is no longer than two inches in length. They tend to be lightweight and very comfortable. Most of them are made of a material that naturally attaches to your scalp and won’t irritate it or make it feel scratchy.
12. Hair Toppers
Also called wiglets, partial wigs include wigs that are made to cover part of your head — a little more than a hairpiece but not as much as a regular wig. The two main types of partial wigs are:
Honeycomb or pull-through partial wig. These partial wigs are perfect for people whose hair is thinning because they contain large holes that you can pull your own hair through and quickly add thickness and volume to your natural hair. You can choose from among various shades and most of them are held in place with either small combs or clips.
1/2 or 3/4 wigs. As the names suggest, these partial wigs cover either one-half or three-fourths of your head, and, similar to the honeycomb variety, you can pull strands of your own hair through them. Your natural hair blends in well with the wigs for a beautiful all-natural look and they are usually held in place with either combs or clips.
By definition, a hairpiece (aka hair extensions) doesn’t cover the entire head but merely enhances the look of a person’s natural hair. Hairpieces are meant to blend in with the hair that is already there and they are usually there to give shape to a person’s hairstyle or even cover up baldness.
There are many different types of hairpieces, including the following:
Banana comb hairpiece. In a banana comb hairpiece, one of the ends is connected permanently while the other one has some type of closure such as a snap clip.
Claw clip hairpiece. This hairpiece has round interlocking combs that you can open and close by squeezing them and that attach the hairpiece at the crown.
Drawstring attachment hairpiece. With this type of hairpiece, there is a drawstring that forms a pocket and tightens in order to give the hairpiece a more secure fit.
Related: 50 of the best wig stores online
The above are your main wig categories on hair type and cap type.
But obviously, you can really drill down when it comes to classifying wigs into color, length, style and purpose (costume, temporary, etc.).
Wigs by Length
While having to buy a wig is sometimes for unfortunate circumstances, it can be an opportunity to enjoy wearing different hair lengths, colors and styles.
These days you can buy wigs online for any length you want. Below are examples of long, medium and short hair examples courtesy of the LA Wig Company.
Long hair wig examples
A long hair wig is defined by hair that drops below the shoulder.
Medium-length wig examples
Medium-length wigs have hair that drops down to the shoulders.
Short hair wig examples
Short hair wigs are hairstyles where hair doesn’t extend to the shoulders.
Wigs by Style
Like length, you can buy a wig in many different hairstyles. Again, it’s an opportunity to try out styles you may not apply to your own hair. Keep in mind that with highe quality wigs, you can style them as well.
African American Hairstyle Wigs
Wigsbuy offers a great selection of wigs for African American hairstyles – all kinds of hairstyles and lengths.
The following examples of different wig hairstyles is courtesy of the LA Wig Company.
Bob style Wig Examples
Layered Hair Wig Examples
Pixie Hairstyle Wig Examples
Shag Hairstyle Wig Examples
Curly and Wavy Hair Wig Examples
Straight Hair Wig Examples
Wigs with Bangs
The above wig examples are courtesy of the LA Wig Company.
Are wigs made of real hair?
Yes, there are human hair wigs and they are the higher quality types as you can well imagine. While synthetic hair wigs look real and can be good, they are no match for natural hair wigs. People sell their hair in countries like China and India where it’s purchased by wig makers for up to $700 per pound.
However, not all wigs are made from human hair. You can also buy synthetic hair wigs and they are getting better and better all the time. In fact, chances are most people wouldn’t know you’re wearing a wig if it’s a high quality, 100% hand-tied synthetic hair wig.
Can wigs look natural?
Yes, absolutely wigs can look natural. In fact, if you invest in the highest quality wig such as a hand-tied Remy human hair wig chances are people wouldn’t notice it’s a wig.
How much does a really good wig cost?
A really good wig will cost $2,000+. This wig here is an example of an very high quality wig made of Remy human hair and a 100% hand-tied cap.
Can wigs fall off easily?
If they are not properly fitted, wigs can fall off easily. If properly fitted, they will stay on and in place. You can further secure your wig with wig tape or a gel wig headband.
How should I store a wig?
Ideally, you store it on a wig stand or mannequin.
Here’s an example of a wig storage mannequin:
If traveling, according to Ultimatelooks.com, “to properly fold your wig, fold it in half from ear to ear and slip it into a clean, plastic bag. If you have some handy, place some tissue paper inside the wig to help it hold its shape in the bag.”
Are wigs uncomfortable?
Wig technology has come a long way. However, some wigs are more comfortable than others. For example, capless wigs are more comfortable than full cap wigs because capless are cooler on the scalp. Generally speaking, if you invest in a quality wig, it’ll be fairly comfortable.
What type of wig is the most comfortable?
The most comfortable wig is a 100% hand-tied cap because the way it’s constructed it’s the most like natural hair.
How long do synthetic hair wigs last?
If you don’t apply heat to them, they can last 4 to 6 months. If you style with heat regularly, they’ll last about 2 to 3 months [source: Wigs.com].
How long do human hair wigs last?
Human hair wigs can last a year or longer with good care [source: Mayvenn.com].