Wearing Wigs (for long-haired people)

"I've got long hair--how do I put it up under a wig so it won't move around or show?"

I've answered this question quite often recently on various boards, so I figured I should put the answer here for anybody who needs it.

Some people just wind the hair around the head, but I've found that with very long and/or smooth hair it tends to slide towards the back of the head after a few hours and drags the wig backwards. This is the method I've found works best on my knee-length (yeesh!) hair:

What you'll need:

  • Comb
  • A package of bobbypins and/or hairpins, and snap clips for method 2
  • Wig cap (available from wig stores, or make your own out of the foot part of pantyhose)
  • Wig

Method 1: Braiding or pin-curling the entire head

I use pin-curls or braids, usually the latter as I find it faster. The braids/pincurls provide a great anchor for pinning the wig to for extra security. The important thing with fitting lots of hair under a wig is to evenly distribute the hair around your entire head; if there's too much hair in one spot you'll not only have a weird-shaped head, but the weight of the hair will pull the wig out of position. Wig cap goes on top, then wig. I like to use a mesh wig-cap so I can pin through it.

How to do pin-curls: Okay, first comb your hair to get out any tangles. When it's smooth, take a small section of hair at the front and coil it around your finger to make a small circle. Keep going until the hair is all in the curl, then pin the coil close to the scalp with bobby pins. It works best if you use two pins, intersecting each other like an X. If you have REALLY long hair, you might have to make two coils with each piece of hair (sort of like an 'S'). Continue around your head this way, making little coils and securing them, until all your hair is up. Make sure the coils are evenly balanced (so you don't have more on one side). Once your hair is all pinned up, take the wig cap and slide it carefully over your hair. It should be snug enough not to move around once it's on, but not so snug that it gives you a headache. Now you put on the wig. If you have a lot of hair like me, the wig will fit pretty tightly, so it might take a bit of adjusting. The bobby pins act as anchors for the wig, so it doesn't move around at all once it's on. I did this with my Aisha wig, and it didn't budge even with that massive braid in the back. Just don't get an itch on your scalp! ^_~

Braids: You'll want to use more than one braid in order to avoid having a big lump in one spot on your head. Do 2 or more braids, coil them flat on your head so that they create as little bulk as possible (making sure they're spread around evenly), then pin them in place using hairpins, not bobbypins.

Method 2: Clips & pincurls

Make pin-curls around the margin of the hair, most importantly at the temples. These will serve to secure your wig.

Then with the rest of your hair, twist the hair loosely into a spiral covering the back of the head, and use snap clips liberally to hold the hair in place. This works best if your hair is fine and smooth, as opposed to very poofy. Then put on your wig cap and you're ready for your wig!

How to use hairpins

This is another question I get asked a lot. Unlike bobbypins, which only work when they can close completely and hold small pieces of hair flat, hairpins are shaped like a "U" or "V" and work using opposing forces. Bobbypins, on the other hand, are so named because they were invented to hold small bits of hair smooth on the short 'bob' hairstyles of the 1920s. Bobbypins don't work well when they can't close tightly, so they are almost useless for securing long hair. Conversely I can secure my knee-length hair in a bun using only a a couple of hairpins.

To secure a hairstyle (let's say for example a bun), you insert the hairpin into the edge of your bun, with the ends of the pin pointing straight towards your head and a little bit away from the center of the bun, then when the tips of the pin touch your scalp you 'scoop' upwards towards the center of the bun, catching some scalp hair with the pin. Then you finish inserting the pin so it's lying flat to your head, pointing at the centre of the bun (aim the tips upwards a little bit for more security). Because it's being held in place by some of the scalp hair as well as the braid/bun hair, the pin can't move, and in turn it keeps the hairstyle secure. The technique is the same for pinning braids to your head. Make sure no pins are sticking straight into your scalp, that will hurt a lot and also not be very good for securing anything.

It works the same way to secure a wig; you insert the pin through the wig into your hair underneath, then scoop upwards and finish with the pin flat against your head. Use several pins around the edges of your wig, and even a heavy wig should stay secure all day.

A few sketches of how it works

Other useful tutorials: How to put on a wig cap

How to wear a wig