Ask a Naturalista: Using Wigs as a Protective Style for Natural Hair
This month, we are excited to continue with our “Ask a Naturalista” segment with a highly informative post on wigs and how we can make use of them as a protective style, to switch up our look and to give ourselves a well-deserved break. In this segment, Mrya (Fablane and Afros&Mo) will be telling us about how she uses wigs as a protective style for natural hair. Enjoy and please share your feedback with her in the comments below.
Hi there, please tell us about yourself and your hair
Hello Natural Hair Uganda, I’m commonly known as Mrya Thandiwe Kasrye on Facebook but my official name is Mary Kasirye. I’m married with 2 children and a proud stay-at-home mum. I live in the state of Wisconsin, USA.
I’m an entrepreneur and business part-owner of Afros&Mo natural hair salon in Kampala.
Beauty & Hair are very close to my heart and I’m proud to say that they are my ultimate passions. I’m very fascinated with the intricate nature of hair, most especially the afro textured hair. I read, I research, I experiment …. I’m totally obsessed! My hair is a very treasured part of me and I try much to do what is best to have it grow healthy and reach its potential.
Why do you choose to wear wigs as a protective style for natural hair?
I love the option of having to take off the hair I’m wearing so as I can take proper care of my natural hair. A wig gives that kind of flexibility. I have the freedom to put it on and take it off whenever I choose to. That way, I can get to wash my hair, condition it and oil my scalp.
The other beauty of choosing a wig as a protective style is that I’m sure all my hair is fully tucked away. That’s one of the aspects of a protective style. Your hair being completely out of the danger of any environmental elements. For those profound reasons, I choose to wear wigs as one of my preferred protective styles. And they can be cute and glamourous!
What should one consider while trying to buy a wig besides style i.e. “hair type” or “hair” characteristics?
Personally, I look at durability of the wig. If I must spend money on a wig, I look for a hair fibre that will give me longer wear and hence get the full worth of my investment. Usually durable, good quality wigs are not too cheap. Buying a wig too cheap is like a quick fix without long term benefits. Every time I invested in a cheap wig, I realised I lost the love for the wig within a very short time and never wear it more than twice. To me, that was throwing my money down the drain. Therefore, I advise you choose a “relatively” priced wig that will give you longer wear and value for your money.
The market has different types of wigs. These are classified depending on the fibres used.
The cheapest fibre is “Synthetic”. These too can range in quality. Not all synthetic fibre wigs are the same. Some are of a better quality than the others. Usually those of a better quality are priced a little higher. If you are to choose a synthetic wig, choose one you will spend on a little higher because its bound to give you longer wear and value.
You may also come across another type of synthetic wig marked “Futura”. This means that it’s safe to use heat on this wig but not beyond a given temperature. Using heat on synthetic wigs causes the hair to melt. So, it’s very important you read very carefully and know for sure if you can apply a little heat or not to a synthetic wig.
The next to synthetic is “Premium”. These wigs that are marked 100% human hair with a word “premium” on the pack have a mixture of fibres. They have some synthetic and human hair fibres. Premium wigs are a better-quality type of wigs and usually you can apply heat to style them, which is not the same for synthetic wigs.
The highest quality of wig you will ever purchase is the “100% Virgin Human Hair” wig. These wigs are made from hair sourced from humans. There are parts of the world where women give away their hair as a ritual to their gods. Such rituals are commonly done in India. The donated hair is said to be sold by the temple and this money is said to maintain the temple and help take care of the poor. The hair is called “virgin” because it has not been chemically altered by perms, colour etc. That’s why this hair is very expensive. There are various types of virgin hair depending on which source this hair came from. There’s Indian, Brazilian, Malaysian, Mongolian … to mention but a few. I find Brazilian and Mongolian more close to our afro textured hair and hence suits us better than the rest.
Within virgin human hair, you will find processed and unprocessed. Processed means it has been tampered with after collecting it and unprocessed means it has not been altered at all. This category of wigs, is what I choose to save for mainly. I love the fact that they behave exactly like my afro hair and even better. They are very durable depending on care. This is the type of wig you will keep and wear for the longest time without getting weary of it. These wigs can be straightened, blow dried, coloured etc.
How do you install the wigs? Do you just wear it like a cap or sew or pin?
Installation depends on wig construction. There are lace front wigs where you install using lace wig glue (these are mostly worn by celebrities e.g. the likes of Beyoncé etc.). There are lace fronts that you can just wear without glue but secure with combs that are usually sewn into them, or hair pins. There are also regular wigs you can just wear without necessarily securing them. All in all, it depends. Personally, I wear lace fronts mainly that I secure with combs or pins.
Is it true that wearing wigs causes breakage of the natural hair underneath? How do you protect your natural hair underneath the wigs to prevent this?
Wearing wigs is part of protective styling, therefore the only reason your hair will break when wearing a wig is because you start to ignore the fact that it still needs to be taken care of. Most of us think that when we wear wigs, then the care of our natural hair stops. That’s wrong because your hair will start to dry out, hence become weak and brittle due to lack of moisture. The aftermath will be breakage.
When I wear wigs, I make sure I have spritzed my hair every morning or every other morning with a water mixture with some good stuff (oils, essential oils, aloe Vera etc.), before I apply my wig. That way my hair stays moisturized throughout the day. I also make sure I shampoo my hair at the end of the week and oil my scalp. I do these steps while my hair is in cornrows. If you follow a proper regimen when wearing wigs, your hair will have no issue with breakage.
What can I do to protect my edges when wearing wigs?
Like I mentioned above, care of your hair is very crucial when wearing wigs. If you are using wigs that don’t need to be glued down on a daily, then your edges should be okay. Good quality wigs are made of materials that are safe and gentle for your edges. Most times when I wear my wigs, I tend not to sit them directly on the hair line. Not because I fear it will break, but because I find that wearing them that way makes the wig more believable, especially if it’s not a lace front wig.
How can I improve my wig –wearing experience? It gets hot, uncomfortable and itchy while I’m wearing it.
Try investing in a different quality of wigs. Most good quality wigs are constructed in a way that it’s “breathable.” That air will get to your scalp so you won’t feel the heat. Most wig companies will mention it on their labels. I guess they realised that it’s important for a wig to feel aerated to the wearer.
Do you take the wig off at the end of the day? Or do you go to bed with it?
One of the freedoms of wearing a wig is being able to take it off at any chosen time. To answer your question, I do put off my wigs at the end of the day…. that way I set my poor head free.
How often should I oil my scalp while wearing a wig?
Oiling your scalp largely depends on how much or less sebum your scalp produces. My scalp produces moderate amount of sebum and therefore I oil only twice a week. Therefore, oiling should depend on how dry your scalp feels or looks. I try to moisturize my entire head of hair at least every other day.
How do I wash and care for my wigso it can continue to look natural and beautiful?
Wigs usually come with care instructions. Most of these will require you to put water in a bowl or basin, add a little shampoo to the water and dip your wig in the water. They warn against washing the wig, but instead swirling it around and gently squeeze on it. Depending on how dirty, you could repeat the process. Follow this with squeezing out the water and rinsing. Follow with a conditioner and leave on for at least 10 minutes and wash out with the swirl and squeeze method. Its best to air-dry the wig after that. Regular care and proper handling will keep your wig looking natural and beautiful.
Would you suggest care routines for wigs especially curly wigs vs wavy vs straight?
Curly and wavy wigs are little more fragile than straight wigs and will therefore need more careful handling. The first thing would be how you store the wig. I recommend a Styrofoam head or any workable form of head that you can keep your wig on if not wearing it. That way you keep it from situations that could cause matting and tangling.
Secondly the less you mess with your curly or wavy wig, the better it will keep in good shape. Avoid playing your fingers in your wig. That will help keep frizz at bay. Keeping a few good hair sprays that can keep the shine and reduce on the frizz will be a good way to keep your wig looking nice and moisturized.
Finally, don’t forget to follow the washing steps above to cleanse all product build-up so that you revive your wig to look lively. Product build-up does dull wigs.
Do you think we can make our own quality wigs especially since good quality wigs are quite costly? Have you attempted to make one yourself?
You are very right… Quality virgin wigs do come at a cost. Yes, we can make our own good quality wigs. This depends on your level of commitment on such a project because it does take dedication and patience.
You can find resources that teach how to make lace front wigs. It’s not hard at all to learn the ventilating techniques and the cap construction of lace fronts…but committing to the project is where you may find the challenge. I have attempted to make a lace front wig once, luckily I was able to accomplish to completion…. but the second one I tried has remained quarterly done for the past year (hahaha).
I prefer making crotchet wigs that are much faster and easier. Though they don’t last that long. I now prefer to save up and purchase my lace front wigs.
Where do you buy your wigs in Kampala and at how much?
I buy my wigs in the United States since it’s where I live. In Kampala, you can find some at Eve&Nico. At Afros&Mo, we only get you these wigs on special order. We do not stock them.
Can you start suppling us with good quality, long lasting, easy care wigs?
Yes. At Afros&Mo we work with you to get you a wig that suits your style and budget.