Secrets of the A-list’s crowning glory: Get your head around the latest hairpieces, says Alice Robertson
Kylie Minogue recently donned a flame-red wig on the cover of Rolling Stone; Shania Twain has been seen rocking multiple wigs throughout her tour; and Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek switches styles several times an episode.
But wigs are no longer just for performing or fancy dress. While the fashion variety are usually made with high-density, low-quality hair on heavy fabric bases, and celebrities require longer lengths with more volume, those suffering hair loss need a more realistic appearance.
Gary Price, medical wig director at Daniel Galvin, says he’s seen a big increase in the use of wigs over the past decade.
Whether this is due to natural hair thinning, Covid or cancer treatments, more women are wanting them. At his bespoke service in London’s Selfridges, his clients range from teenagers through to people in their 90s.
Hairdresser Adam Reed, founder of Arkive Headcare, has also seen a spike in the use of hairpieces, with clients choosing extensions for volume rather than length.
Kylie Minogue, pictures in a chic punky ensemble, sports a very now wig for the cover of rolling stone
Vicky Demetriou, extensions expert and stylist at Larry King’s salon in London’s South Kensington, agrees: ‘Faux hair has become a staple for many clients. So many of the celebrities wear wigs. Even if you think they don’t, they do!’
How to source a high-quality wig? What price are you looking at? What kind of hair to go for?
It can be confusing. We’re here to help you shop smart because, as Reed notes, ‘Buying any kind of hairpiece is an investment – it’s not a disposable accessory.’
SYNTHETIC HAIR IS CHEAPER, BUT NOT ECO-FRIENDLY
Thanks to new technology, synthetic hair is more realistic, without any plastic-looking shine, although it doesn’t move or style in the same way as natural hair. The cost of a good hand-knotted synthetic wig starts at about £400. For those on a limited budget, Price thinks these are a good option (try pakscosmetics.com), but stresses that you should look for those with a monofilament top and a lace front, where the top section is hand-tied on to a sheer mesh cap. This allows hair to be styled in various ways, the parting can be changed and the hair moves realistically. If worn daily, it will need replacing after four or five months as the fibres gradually dry out.
NATURAL HAIR IS PRICEY, BUT REALISTIC
A ready-to-wear wig, hand-knotted and shoulder length, can take four months to produce, which explains why they’re so expensive. But they give the most genuine-looking parting and hairline, and can even be tied up in a ponytail without any telltale signs. One made from untreated European hair would cost around £3,500, but bespoke options can cost up to £10,000. Remy human hair wigs – where the cuticle is mostly intact and not as damaged as chemically processed hair – can be much cheaper, at around £2,500.
For the most realistic effect, you’ll need to have your wig altered to suit your needs. Arkive will cut, colour and style yours and then teach you how to maintain it (adamreed.london).
Practise due diligence and check whether the brand you’re using has a compliance statement saying that all hair is ethically sourced and they adhere to sourcing guidelines – some hair can be forcibly taken from women with long hair.
Both Demetriou and Reed like to use Trendco (trendco.co.uk) for their pieces.
The supply of the lightest blonde hair has decreased substantially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has caused the price of virgin (untreated) blonde hair to triple in the past two years.
DON’T FORGET YOUR SCALP!
If a wig’s not comfortable, you won’t wear it, so always try on and look for a good fit around your ears and hairline. And as it’s like wearing a hat all the time and things can get hot, sore and itchy, you must look after your scalp. A brush or scrub is useful to stimulate the skin and any hair follicles with a healthy blood flow. Try using a scalp serum afterwards to nourish the skin.
Living Proof Scalp Care Dry Scalp Treatment, £32, lookfantastic. com
Ameliorate Soothing Scalp Essence, £20, ameliorate.com
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