Best Wigs

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
113 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Updated December 2020
Written by Michelle Ullman Authors 's image

Buying guide for Best wigs

Perhaps you wear a wig daily to cover up permanent or temporary hair loss from a medical condition or treatment. Perhaps you want a wig for occasional use to change your hairstyle. Perhaps you simply need a wig to wear once or twice as part of a costume. In any case, purchasing a wig can be a bit complicated. 

The market is saturated with wigs of all types, from inexpensive Halloween-style costume wigs to elegant wigs fit for a formal occasion. There are a lot of decisions to make, and not just regarding hairstyle and color. What type of hair should the wig have? What type of cap? How much should you expect to pay? 

To make your decision easier, we created this handy buying guide to help you understand the various types of wigs available, so you can choose the one — or more — best suited to your needs. We’ve included a few of our favorites, too. 

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A wig lets you try out different hairstyles or cover up hair loss.

Key considerations

Hair type

There are three basic types of hair used for making wigs: human hair, synthetic hair, and heat-resistant synthetic hair.

Human hair: Most of the human hair used to make wigs comes from India and China. Not surprisingly, human hair creates the most natural-looking and natural-feeling wigs. You can style a human-hair wig the same way you would style your own hair, which includes using heated tools such as curling irons, flat irons, and blow dryers

On the downside, human-hair wigs are prone to frizz when the humidity is high. They can become dry and brittle from a lack of natural oils. They need to be restyled every time they’re washed. And they’re the most expensive choice.

Synthetic hair: High-quality synthetic hair looks very natural, although it’s hard to match the bounce, feel, and shine of real human hair. Still, many people choose synthetic wigs because they’re less expensive than natural-hair wigs. They don’t require restyling after cleaning — just mist the wig with a little water to restore its original style — and they don’t frizz or go limp in bad weather. 

However, you can’t use heated tools to style synthetic hair without melting it, which greatly limits your styling choices. You also need to take care when wearing the wig near a high-heat source such as an oven.

Heat-resistant synthetic hair: This choice has all the benefits of synthetic hair and also tolerates styling with heated tools used on the lowest setting. That means you can somewhat change the wig’s style when desired, but be aware that even with heat-resistant synthetic hair, it’s quite a bit more difficult to style the wig than it is to style natural human hair.

Cap

The cap of a wig, for the purposes of this discussion, is the base to which the natural or synthetic hair is attached. Wig caps are generally made of lace, mesh, or a combination of the two. The wig cap fits snugly over the wearer’s head to keep the wig comfortably in place, but it is hidden by the overlying hair. There are several different styles of wig cap, but the following four are the most common.

Basic cap: There are several names for the basic wig cap, including traditional, capless, open, and classic. Basic caps are the least expensive type. With these caps, the hair is sewn either by hand or, more often, by machine onto thin strips of fabric, which are then woven together in something like a basket weave. Often, the hair is slightly teased at the roots to provide volume to help cover up the underlying cap. These caps are more durable than other cap types. They aren’t too hot and don’t require a lot of styling. They are also the least expensive choice.

On the downside, a wig with a basic cap isn’t as easy to restyle as wigs with other types of caps. You’ll usually only find this cap in wigs with synthetic or heat-resistant synthetic hair.  

Lace-front cap: These caps are similar to basic caps but differ by having an inset of mesh at the front hairline, either from ear to ear or temple to temple. While most of the wig might be sewn by machine, the front is sewn by hand, with each hair individually attached to the lace inset. This results in a very natural looking hairline and allows the wearer to choose off-the-face hairstyles when desired. Lace-front caps aren’t too hot and are typically ready to wear with little styling required.

On the downside, the lace portion of the cap is very delicate, and the hairline tends to loosen over time. 

Monofilament cap: These caps are similar to lace-front caps except that the mesh portion extends over the crown and top of the head, instead of just the front. That means you can change the part on a wig with this type of cap, something you can’t do with a lace-front cap. Plus, the individually tied hairs along the crown and top of the wig provide a very natural look.

On the downside, the cap can be hot. It can also be itchy or irritating to a bare scalp unless it has an additional layer of fabric underneath the lace portion. The lace is very delicate, and hair can loosen along the crown. 

Hand-tied cap: A 100% hand-tied wig means that every hair is individually hand-sewn to an underlying mesh cap. The mesh fabric is soft and comfortable against the bare scalp. The results are the most natural in appearance and the most versatile in terms of styling. Note that if a wig is only labeled “hand-tied” and not “100% hand-tied,” it might be partially machine-sewn.

On the downside, these wigs can be delicate and hot. They are also by far the most expensive wigs.

Size

Before buying a wig, you’ll need to take a couple of measurements. Wigs do come in different sizes, although most people wear an average-size wig. 

The most important measurement is the circumference of your head. To take this measurement, circle a measuring tape around your head so it stretches across the center of your forehead, right above your ears, and around the base of your skull. 

While head circumference is the most important number in wig measurements, it can also be helpful to measure your head front to back, from your natural hairline over the top of your head and down to the base of your skull.

Petite: 20.5 to 21.5 inches in circumference; 13.25 inches front to back
Average: 21.5 to 22.5 inches in circumference; 14.25 inches front to back 
Large: 22.5 to 23.5 inches in circumference; 15.5 inches front to back

Store your wig on a wig stand when you’re not wearing it.

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Features

Color, style, and texture

Here’s where personal preference comes into play. Whatever hair color, style, or texture you prefer, there’s almost certainly a wig to match. Black, brunette, blonde, red, or even playful colors like blue or green, wigs come in all of these hues. Curly hair, straight hair, and wavy hair are all available, too. And, of course, whether you like to wear your hair cute and cropped, long and sexy, or somewhere in between, there’s a wig to match.

While many people with hair loss due to medical issues or treatments prefer a wig that closely matches their natural hair’s color and style, others like the option to try out entirely new styles, colors, lengths, or textures. You might even want to own two or three wigs in different colors or styles to add variety to your look.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Synthetic wigs require less styling than natural wigs, but they are less versatile.
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Wig prices

The price range for wigs is a wide one, and several factors determine the cost, including the type of hair, cap, and style. While you can purchase an inexpensive wig for well under $100, the old adage, “You get what you pay for” definitely holds true here, and higher-quality wigs command correspondingly higher prices.

Inexpensive: As a general rule, a good-quality wig with a basic cap costs between $75 and $150, with real human hair toward the higher end of the range.

Mid-range: Expect to pay between $125 and $175 for a wig with a lace-front cap. Again, you’ll pay the higher prices for natural hair and the lower prices for synthetic wigs.

Expensive: Monofilament wigs are generally in the $175 to $250 range, depending on the type of hair.

Premium: You’ll pay the most for a 100% hand-tied wig. These can cost $200 to $2,000, depending on the quality and length of the hair and the style of the wig.

Extend the life of your wig by caring for it properly.

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Tips

A quality wig is an investment, so it’s important to care for it properly to keep it looking its best. Here are guidelines for caring for your natural or synthetic wig.

  • Keep your wig on a wig stand. This will maintain its shape. Store your wig away from intense heat or bright sunlight.
  • Use the right styling tools. When styling your natural wig, use brushes and combs specifically made for this purpose.
  • Don’t brush a wet synthetic wig. These wigs generally just require a shake to restore their style. If necessary, spritz the wig with a bit of water and then work the hair back into place with your fingers. Never use a brush on a wet synthetic wig.
  • Wash your wig properly and carefully. Wash a natural wig after every 7 to 10 wears. A synthetic wig should be washed after every 10 to 15 wears. Never use regular shampoo and conditioner on your wig, whether it’s natural hair or synthetic. Instead, choose products specially formulated for washing wigs, because the highly processed hair requires very gentle cleansers.
    To wash your wig, add a tablespoon of wig shampoo to a sink filled with cool water. Immerse the wig and gently shake it in the water, using your fingertips to very gently work the shampoo through the strands. Don’t scrub or pull on hand-tied areas or they could come loose. Rinse the wig in clean, cold water. Apply a teaspoon of wig conditioner to your hands, and use your fingertips to work the conditioner through the wig hair, avoiding the cap. Rinse in cold water. Blot excess water from the wig with a towel, and then set the wig on its wig stand to air-dry.
  • Never wear your wig in chlorinated or salt water.
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Choose the wig color, texture, and style that best flatters your face’s shape and coloring.

FAQ

Q. How long will a wig last if I wear it every day?

A. While you can extend the life of your wig with proper care, a wig isn’t a lifetime purchase. Wigs tend to loosen and lose hairs with every wearing. As a general rule, if you wear your natural-hair wig daily, you can expect it to last up to a year. A synthetic wig worn daily and cared for properly can last up to six months, while a heat-resistant synthetic wig typically only looks good for three to four months.

Q. How do I know what hair color will look best on me?

A. While you’re free to choose any wig color you like, for the most flattering appearance, choose a warm-toned hair color if you have warm undertones in your complexion. Those with cool skin tones look best with cool hues of hair. Neutral complexions look good with both cool and warm hair colors. 

Q. Is my only choice a wig that covers my entire head?

A. While many people suffering from complete hair loss prefer a wig with full coverage, others only want a wig to cover partial hair loss, such as along the part line or a receding hairline. Still, others are just looking for extra fullness or volume to maximize thinning hair. Luckily, there are options for all of these situations. Along with full-coverage wigs, you’ll find partial wigs that cover only the top of the head, extensions that add length and fullness, and bang pieces that conceal a receding hairline.

 

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