Wearing a wig seems very simple – you just put it on your head. However, there are some ways that wearing a wig can cause hair loss if you are not careful.
Do Wigs Cause Hair Loss?
Although wigs do not inherently cause hair loss, they can contribute to hair loss if not worn correctly. Many people have experienced hair damage as a result of not properly caring for their natural hair.
However, if wigs are worn correctly, then the hair will remain healthy.
It is important for people to understand the risks involved with not using a product correctly for their own protection.
Possible Causes of Hair Loss from a Wearing a Wig
There are several ways that people can make mistakes by wearing a wig, but if avoided will keep the natural hair healthy.
Hair glue is great for attaching the lace for lace front wigs, however, it can also damage your edges. When hair glue is applied to the forehead, it is very easy to apply glue to your edges, because they are so close to where the lace should be.
One way that glue can damage the hair, is in the removal process for a wig. If someone tries to remove a glued lace front or 360 lace wig, there is a high risk of pulling out the edges of the hair because the glue is still strong.
If you need to remove your wig a short while after it is installed, then it is important to let a glue remover sit in the lace for at least 10 minutes. Using a good glue remover will help the glue to loosen and not pull the hair as you are removing the lace.
Another way that glue can damage the hair is by not covering the edges before gluing on the wig. When you wear a lace front wig, it has baby hairs already attached to the lace, so there is no need to not completely cover your edges.
When people do not fully cover their edges with a wig cap, or comb them back in place, it can cause hair removal if the glue is applied to them. The wig will start to slide as it is worn, and the edges on the lace will constantly be manipulated, which can cause the natural hair to be pulled out even while the wig is worn.
When the braids under the wig are left in too long, they can start to mat. Matting happens when hairs start to twist around other hairs, which is what the new growth would do under the braids.
If hair is not combed out in a certain amount of time, then the hair could become tangled – sometimes to the point of no return. African-American hair starts to mat after 8 weeks of not being combed.
When hair mats very badly and cannot be combed out anymore, the only option is to cut it. To avoid the matting process, the braids of a wig have to be taken out and redone at least every 8 weeks.
Many women and almost half of black women suffer from what is called traction alopecia. This is a condition that causes hair loss to the scalp.
This form of alopecia is caused by excessive manipulation to the hair, mostly due to heat and chemicals.
Many protective styles require pulling the hair, such as braids and ponytails. Most wigs require that the hair is put into cornrows and then that hair is sewn onto the braids.
Oftentimes when getting a wig installed, many people go to a stylist. When speaking to the stylist some people are not vocal about how tight the hair is, which causes the hair to be way tighter on the head than it is supposed to be.
Constantly pulling on the hair ultimately damages the root which can lead to permanent hair loss. It is a process that takes years, so usually people are unaware of how constant tugging affects the hair until it is too late.
There is an even greater risk of traction alopecia when the weight of the hairstyle is heavier. When people regularly wear long, thick, and heavy extensions, they are pulling on the natural hair more than it should be pulled on. Many people purchase a wig to make their hair look longer, which makes the hair heavier. Wearing a long wig is not as damaging as wearing a long weave, but it can still add stress to the scalp.
Many traction alopecia cases are found on the hairline, because that is where the thinner, more sensitive hairs are found.
Sometimes people do not know the signs of traction alopecia, and continue to add stress to the scalp.
Some Signs of Traction Alopecia
- Thinning and Hair Loss
- Small pimples on the scalp
- Patches of thin or broken hair near where extensions were applied
Is it Okay to Wear a Wig Every Day?
Wearing a wig every day for a certain period of time is not harmful if you keep the natural hair cared for underneath. The main reason for hair damage while wearing a wig is by failing to care for the natural hair as it is in the braids.
The hair and scalp still need to be cleaned, especially the new growth. Wigs should not be worn consistently throughout the year, because of the risk of traction alopecia, your hair needs breaks. There should always be a section of time in the year when your hair is left alone, or put into a protective style, to allow it to grow freely.
Is it Okay to Wear a Wig Without a Wig Cap?
Wig caps are worn to achieve a flat surface for the base of the wig, but they are good for attaching the combs that are under a wig. The combs on the bottom of the wig are meant for extra security so that the wig will not slip off.
The combs pull on the hair as the wig is worn, but a wig cap prevents that pull on the natural hair. Instead of attaching the combs to the natural hair, you could attach the combs to the wig cap. A wig cap also helps keep your edges tucked away, so they are not loose as the wig is sliding.
You do not have to wear a wig cap with a wig, but there are many benefits to wearing them that keep your natural hair protected. Sometimes a wig cap is too tight for some people.
If the cap is uncomfortably tight, you should either cut it at the bottom to loosen it or not wear it at all because it can cut off your blood circulation in the scalp. There is also an option to wear a netted cap, which is looser and more breathable.
Can I Sleep in My Wig?
Some people who have glued the lace down on their scalp want to wear their wig overnight to avoid the removal process. You can sleep in your wig, but it is not recommended that anyone do so on a regular basis.
In order to best prepare your wig for sleep, you must make sure that it is very secure on your head. Pulling the hair into a ponytail, and tying it down with a scarf will keep the wig in place. It is important for your wig to be secured and covered, so it isn’t sliding or rubbing against anything. It is also recommended that you use a silk or satin bonnet or scarf, which is softer on the hair.
Keeping a wig on a few days after you have glued it will also help prevent you from constantly removing glue – which can put your edges at risk.
The Final Word
Wigs do not inherently cause hair loss, but using them in the wrong way can. It is important to remember that the wig hair is not the only hair that needs to be cared for, your natural hair should always come first.
Knowing ahead of time what kind of care your hair will need while wearing a wig will ensure it will stay healthy and strong. Just remember to be consistent!