This is how human hair wigs are made
The world of wigs is a wonderful and colourful place. These days wigs come in all shapes, styles and sizes and there truly is something for everyone.
The craft of making wigs, however, is hundreds of years old. Over the years this craft has been improved and perfected. Today, we can buy wigs that are so well made that it is hard to spot whether someone’s beautiful hairdo is their own hair or a wig.
You might not have put much thought into how that lovely wig is made, but you would be surprised to know that quite a lot of effort and careful craftmanship goes into producing wigs.
Human hair wigs do come with a bigger price tag, but they can last several years if looked well after.
There are also many different techniques that are used across the world to make wigs, with hand-tied wigs being of the best quality.
Let’s explore a bit in the world of wig-making, specifically how human hair wigs are made.
Sourcing human hair
The human hair that is used to make top-quality wigs come from all over the world. The two leading countries when it comes to selling hair are China and India. Some hair is also sourced from countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia, Romania and Ukraine.
Preparing the hair
Before the hair can be made into a magnificent wig, the hair first needs to be prepared carefully. Each and every hair strand has to be facing the same direction. Some wigmakers will organise the hair into pile, one pile containing “root down” hair, and another containing “root up” hair. After sorting all of the hair it will be put together in one bunch, with all the strands facing the same direction.
After the hair is sorted, it is closely inspected to ensure that it is squeaky clean. The bundles of hair are all examined to ensure there are no creepy crawlies, like nits and lice, present on the strands. Thereafter the hair will be gently washed in hot water and disinfectant. After rinsing the hair, it is carefully dried with towels whereafter it is dried.
Once the hair is clean and dry, it is sorted into bunches of strands that are all of the same length. The next step is to permanently style the hair – whether it be to curl it or to straighten it.
Designing and making the foundation of a wig cap
A wig cap is the place where the true inner workings of a wig all come together. It is the material with which wigmakers craft the base of a wig and it is made to mimic the shape of your head. This is a vital step in the process of making a wig because it will make or break the fit of the wig on a person’s head.
Some companies prefer to use hypoallergenic materials to make the wig cap so that it is soft on the skin to avoid possible irritation and itchiness. The cover must be as lightweight as possible and be stretchy to some degree.
The wigmaker will usually draw a pattern for the foundation of the wig, after which they will cut fine-mesh silk netting in that pattern. The crown of the foundation is usually cut from a coarser type of net made from silk, cotton or nylon. The different pieces of the foundation are sowed together with a strong silk ribbon.
Knotting hair strands into the wig
One of the final steps in creating a beautiful wig is knotting the hair strands into place. This process is quite laborious and requires skill, precision, and time. During this process, all of the hair strands are attached to the foundation of the wig cap. Usually the front edges of the wig will be knotted with single hair strands, while the crown and other areas will be knotted with up to eight hairs at a time. Having single hair strands knotted into the edges gives the wig a more natural look, creating the illusion of hair growing from a scalp. A full wig can consist of up to 40 000 knots, which may take a long time to complete. This process, being tedious and time-consuming, contributes to the big price tag of some human hair wigs.
Styling the wig
The last, and arguably the most important step in wig making, is styling the wig. This is where the fun comes in as the wigmaker now has the chance to create those luscious curls, wonderful waves, or silky straight strands on the wig. Even though human hair wigs can be styled with heat afterwards, the fundamental style of the wig is created in this step.