One of the best attributes of the natural haircare movement is its diversity of options. You can wear a sleek bun, an unhinged afro, or choose to lock your hair. Furthermore, naturals can experiment with edgy cuts and colors, which highlight their state of mind and/or fashion sense. However, when we think about or refer to naturals, our frame of reference tends to be Solange Knowles or Lupita Nyong’o, but not Nicki Minaj or Beyoncé. Whether we acknowledge it or not, there is a large population of naturals who choose to regularly wear wigs or weaves.
I have family members and friends who wear hair pieces or extensions for a wide variety of reasons, and it doesn’t always mean they don’t like their natural hair. An old co-worker of mine told me that weave “grows your hair.” Other naturals say that wigging or weaving gives them a diversity of options and protects their hair at the same time.
On the other hand, many of us have witnessed the unpleasant effects of improper wigging or weaving, such as the case of Countess Vaughn. For those of you unfamiliar with Countess, she played as one of the leading actresses in “Moesha” and “The Parkers”. Her love for lace-front wigs caused a “severe scalp infection” (Wilson, "Countess Vaughn Reminds Us Of The Dangers Of Wigs And Weaves"). I don’t want to shame naturals for their personal choices, but I do want them to be informed and proactive rather than reactive. Here are the top five rules for wigging or weaving:
1.) WEAR A WIG CAP. Wearing a wig cap will help protect the hair from any unnecessary snagging or pulling. It will also keep all of your natural hair tucked away. An added bonus is that it will keep your wig in place. I made the mistake of wearing a wig without a wig cap and experienced a dreadful case of lopsided wig syndrome. Not cute. Keep it right. Keep it tight.
2.) TAKE IT OFF. Take a deep breath and say this phrase with me slowly: “I am not my hair.” Go home and be yourself. Even if you’ve got a Naomi Campbell hairline under your wig or hairpiece, bare it all. Besides, this is a healthy hair practice. I have a hat that I absolutely adore but after one week of wearing it all day, my scalp began to itch terribly. I found refuge in taking it off after a day at work. Your scalp needs circulation for optimal hair growth to occur, so if you’re aiming for length retention, give your scalp some fresh air.
3.) DEVELOP A ROUTINE. From what I have observed, a broken routine or complete lack thereof leads to unnecessary hair loss while wigging or weaving. You should take care of your hairpiece and your hair underneath it. This means that you should wash, deep condition, and dry your natural hair at least every two weeks. I would also suggest putting it in a protective style, especially if you’re weaving. Ericka Dotson, co-founder of Indique Hair, suggests using a “blow-dryer with a diffuser attachment” on the roots of your hair to prevent mildew (Essence, “How to Cleanse Your Scalp Under a Weave”).
4.) PROTECT YOUR EDGES. Always be conscientious of hair piece placement, products used on your hairline, and the manner in which you perform these steps. The edges of our hair are very delicate. Make sure that your hairpiece is secure but not too tight. Don’t use a lot of gels or heavy products to lay the hairline, as this can lead to breakage. Belinda Baker, CEO of salon BKB in Atlanta, Georgia, recommends making sure the wig cap covers the hairline to avoid “friction between the natural hair and the wig itself” (EHow beauty, “How to Protect African-American Hair Under a Wig: African-American Hairstyling”).
5.) SET A LIMIT. You should plan how long you intend on keeping your weave in. I would follow the same guidelines as those for braids, which are typically kept in for no more than 12 weeks. Leaving your weave in too long can create breakage and defeat any length retention you may have achieved. Besides, who doesn’t want to have a fresh weave? No one wants to be on the receiving end of immature weave jokes.
A curly fro, sleek bob, and big pin curls are all possibilities with wearing a wig or weave. These are styles that most of us cannot achieve on our own or seldom have the time to attempt. Like other naturals, wig and weave-wearers have just as many styling options, oftentimes even more. For naturals who prefer wearing wigs or weaves, more power to you. Just remember the tips above and you should be well on your way to enjoying both your showcased hair and your natural hair.
Wilson, Julee. "Countess Vaughn Reminds Us Of The Dangers Of Wigs And Weaves." Huff Post Black Voices. Thehuffingtonpost.com, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 2 Aug. 2015.
Baker, Belinda. "How to Protect African-American Hair Under a Wig: African-American Hairstyling." YouTube. YouTube, 19 July 2012. Web. 2 Aug. 2015.
Dotson, Ericka. "How to Cleanse Your Scalp Under a Weave | ESSENCE." YouTube. YouTube, 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 2 Aug. 2015.