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Wig Care & Repairs

February 13, 2013

What to repair:

This is the kind of question that obviously has to be answered in person. Each wig has to be looked over by a professional to determine what kind of repair needs to be done. I will try to list a few of the minor repairs that everyone should be aware of, and of course define some of the major repairs that you must defer to a professional for. 

The first most obvious repair is color: check your color as I described earlier. All human hair gets lighter in the sun. If your wig is made of natural hair that has never been colored before, it will fade slower than already dyed, processed hair. The average daily worn wig will go about 2 New York summers before it needs a dye. (California, Florida and Israel dwellers can expect only one year, further north than New York may get longer). If your wig had highlights in it before, you may need to pay for a dye and highlights separately if you prefer a multi-toned, highlighted look. Don’t let your wig get too oxidized (lightened by sun exposure) before you dye it, though. Overly oxidized hair may no longer take or hold color, and very different shades in the same wig will take color in very different shades, making the results of a dye very unpredictable. 

You may also want to consider relaxing, body waving or perming your wig. This is recommended if you originally bought an expensive, untreated wig and the color hasn’t changed too drastically but you’re just bored of the style: it started out curly, but now you want something straight, or vice versa. You may also need to re-cut the wig in order to get a new style. I always advocate re-cutting a wig, but chemical treatments must be done very carefully. Ask your friends if they have ever done the treatment you are considering so that you know the results you can expect. Also be aware: straightening and body waving treatments do not combine well with dyes and highlights. If you recently done any color related work, a relax or perm may strip your color. A dye may weaken a previous perm. And if color and texture related treatments are done too close together, it may irreversibly damage the hair beyond wear. 

Maintaining your cap, or foundation, is a little more complex. Clips and combs are quite obvious. Also, many wigs are made on stretchy fabrics. These stretch out over time, and may need to be taken in, have new elastic added or some other form of repair to make them smaller. When you start to see holes in the inside of your foundation, you should have them stitched or patched immediately. The most common places for a wig to tear are alongside your clips and combs, or down by the nape of your neck, where you may tug on the wig when you put it on. When left unattended, these little tears can spread and eventually compromise the hair that is sewn onto the outside. Once hair is involved, the repair will get much more expensive, so address these problems as small holes before they get out of hand. If you seem to be getting too many holes too often, you may want to ask about a new lining. Make sure to ask that the wig will not get too tight with the new fabric added in though, unless it is already too large. 

Finally, the most complicated types of repairs involve adding hair. They can range from adding just a few short hairs to cover a small bald spot ($50-$150) to removing and replacing an entire multi directional top ($550-$850) or adding a couple of ounces throughout the whole wig ($250-$600). Adding hair to add length to the bottom of the wig is probably the most expensive, and often not recommended ($400-$800). When these hair-related repairs are combined with other repairs too (such as dyes, re-cutting or lining) and it adds up to several hundred dollars, its time to evaluate if the repair is worth the original value of the wig, or if its more prudent to take that money and use it as a deposit for a new wig. 

How to decide whether or not to do a repair:

I hate telling people to throw away a wig, so I often try to help find one way or another to try to salvage an old wig. I use the $100/year rule first, then also consider the original cost of the wig and what condition the wig is currently in. If the repair is more than half of what the wig originally cost you and you could replace it for that price again, I usually advocate getting a new one. I try to find a way to do only part of the repairs so that you can continue using the old one, either as a fall or under hats. 

If the hair is in good condition though, but the cap needs a major repair, that is a good investment. If the cap is holding up nicely and in no danger of falling apart but you need several hundred dollars worth of hair, that would also be a worthy investment. When the foundation, hair and color of the wig are all in need of repair, it may be time to part with that particular wig. If its been your favorite wig for years and you’re too emotionally attached to it to let it retire from active daily wear (yes, this does happen, and I am sympathetic when it does…) I strongly suggest doing only part of the repairs long enough to keep it alive so that you can find, and hopefully fall in love with a new one all over again…

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