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How to Wash Curly Wigs and Style Them After

Rosheda started wearing wigs when an illness damaged her hair. To recover, she moved to Jamaica where she opened a wig store.

There really is no feeling like being a curly girl on a breezy summer day. Curls say you are girly and carefree and just look fun. Some curls even bring night time drama for those special occasions. Whatever your reason for liking curly hair, it can be a bummer if you weren’t blessed with natural curls. That’s where a curly wig can come in. Curly wigs give you the curly girl look without the processing you would need to do to your hair to get the same look. That is how some of the most popular celebrities go from bone straight to curly hair so seamlessly.

If you do go the curly wig route, there are some things you must do to maintain the beautiful curls on your wig. Here is everything you need to know to care for your curly wigs. This article looks at caring for both curly human hair wigs and curly synthetic wigs.

Properly maintaining and washing human hair curly wigs and synthetic curly wigs will give them longer life  last longer life and more gorgeous curls.

Properly maintaining and washing human hair curly wigs and synthetic curly wigs will give them longer life last longer life and more gorgeous curls.

Human hair is just what it sounds like. Its human hair that has been taken from an actual person then put on a wig. The care will therefore be similar to how you would care for your own hair, except that there are additional steps to keeping the curls bouncy and vibrant.

Washing Human Hair Curly Wigs

Curly wigs made from human hair will get dry and collect dirt and grime easily as curl patterns contain more crevices on which debri and grease from styling products can get trapped. The rule for human hair is that it should be washed after ten wears, however it is best to go by your own observation. If your human hair wig starts feeling heavy or the curls start looking dull and dry, it is time for a wash. This could happen after 5 wears or after three weeks. It all depends on the environment you wear it in and how long you keep it on when you do wear it. Other factors like the quality of the hair will also affect how often your human hair curly wig needs to be washed.

1. Detangling a Human Hair Curly Wig

Before washing curly wigs, it is important that the hair is as tangle free as possible. Yes, human hair does tangle (although not as much as synthetic) and these tangles will matte once the hair gets wet. First, slightly damp the hair with a conditioner and water solution. Next, working in small sections use a Denman brush to gently detangle the curls starting from the ends until you get to the top. You can also detangle virgin human hair while it's dry and not loose the curls.

2. Shampoo the Hair

Human hair is washed in the same way you would wash your own hair. With curly wigs, only sulfate free shampoo or a shampoo made especially for curly hair should be used. Human hair made into wigs is hair that has been cut from the head of an actual person. Once it gets cut, it looses its source of nutrients and can easily get dry and brittle. This is why it’s important that any shampoo you use doesn’t have sulfates which is known to strip hair of moisture. Moisturizing shampoos or shampoos formulated especially for curly hair work best with curly wigs. Many drugstore brands and higher end brands make moisturizing formulas and formulas for curly hair. I really can't recommend one over another as the ones I have tried all seem to work well.

Once you have the right shampoo, it’s time to begin washing. Many hair care guides recommend washing wigs in a sink. I tried this method many times when I first started to wear curly wigs and found that with long curly hair wigs the swishing causes to tangle. If your wig is made from good quality hair like virgin or even a remy you really want to keep everything flowing downwards in the same direction. To do this, it is best to wash the wig under running water so that the water flows though the hair in one direction and lessens the likelihood of the hair tangling. Simply put a few squirts of shampoo on the hair and put the wig under running water. For a really long wig, you may have to use your shower so that the hair doesn’t get tangled while laying in the sink. While washing, gently squeeze the hair in a downwards direction until clean. Do not rub or agitate the strands too much.

Pay attention to the cap and lace where you may have added concealer or makeup. After a few minutes, squeeze the water from the wig in a downwards direction. Next rinse the hair and go on to conditioning.

3. Conditioning The Hair

Once you have squeezed most of the water out of the wig. It is time to condition. Use a conditioner made for curly hair and apply the conditioner directly to the hair on the wig. Keep the conditioner about 1 inch away from the top of the wig if it is a lacefront wig. Conditioners are made to soften and detangle. This aspect of hair conditioners can undo the knots used to attach the hair to the lace on lacefront wigs and leave you with hair that is falling out. If your wig is made fully from wefted hair then its ok for some conditioner to touch the wig cap.

Curly human hair benefits from having some conditioner left on for 5 to 10 minutes so you may do this while conditioning. You may even apply a deep conditioner on the hair only, put the hair in a bag and leave it on the hair for as long as the instructions say. At this point if you notice any tangles you can go through the hair again with your brush. A leave in conditioner can also be used.

After the conditioner has worked its magic, rinse it out completely with cold water running downwards in one direction away from the wig’s cap. When all the conditioner has been rinsed out, blot dry by rolling the hair in a towel carefully. When most of the water is gone and the hair is damp its time to style. If a leave in conditioner was used rinsing is not necessary.

Styling and Maintaining the Curls on a Human Hair Wig

Curly human hair wigs are made from naturally curly human hair. For this reason the hair will dry into a curly pattern. You do have to maintain and define these curls for a bouncy, shiny look. Adding back moisture, then defining the curls is the trick to a vibrant curly wig. Immediately after washing is a good time to liven up and define curls on a curly wig.

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While the hair is still damp add a moisturizing leave in conditioner. I prefer acreamy leave in conditioner formulated with natural moisturizers to liquid spray in ones. The Shea Moisture brand makes good thick ones that infuse human hair curly wigs with lots of much needed moisture. Work the moisture through the hair and scrunch the hair together to help the curls take their natural form.

After adding moisture and scrunching, the curls should start looking more vibrant. Now it's time to define them. Try to use a good curl activator or curl definer that wont leave a crunchy feel to the hair. I especially like using a curly activator by a brand called Miss Jessie. It does a great job defining curls on human hair curly wigs and on natural hair and leaves the hair softer than the other curl activators I have tried.

Miss Jessie's Jelly Defines Curl and Leaves Hair Soft to the Touch

Even if you don't have a curl activator/ definer you may use styling mousse to fight frizz and hold the curls. If you need further definition after using mousse or curl activator you can separate the curls and wrap then individually around your finger for nicely defined curls. Once the curls look how you want them to, you can leave the wig to air dry.

1. Detangling Synthetic Curly wigs

Just like human hair wigs it is best to detangle a synthetic curly hair wig before washing. Unlike human hair most synthetics detangle best by hand. I remember brushing my synthetic Outre Peruvian wig and loosing much of the curl pattern. I suggest spraying the hair with a water and conditioner solution and going through the hair section by section with your fingers. Start at the nape where the hair would have tangled most and gently pull apart the tangles. Do not do detangle a synthetic curly hair wig while the synthetic is dry as this will only create big frizzy hair. After you have rid the wig of the tangles it’s time to shampoo.

2. Shampoo

You may use regular shampoo with synthetics, but I like to use a shampoo made especially for wigs when washing a synthetic. There really is a difference when a good one is used. Synthetic hair is a fiber that suffers from static electricity. It is static electricity that makes synthetic wigs get all those flyaway hairs that refuse to lay down and get that frizzy look. The more modern synthetic wig shampoos are designed to be anti- static.

I have used synthetic wig shampoos designed to be anti- static by Revlon and by a company called Brandywine. I found a tremendous difference when I use the one by Brandywine. Even an old wig that has developed frizz may benefit from the Brandywine wig shampoo's anti- static formula. When I use the shampoo, my synthetic wigs feel much softer and there is a noticeable difference in how well the hair fibers lay down. The Brandywine Anti- Static Shampoo can also be purchased as a combo that includes a wig conditioner.

If you prefer to use regular shampoo try to use the most moisturizing one you can find. Once you have your shampoo, follow the directions above for washing human hair wigs.

3. Condition

Once again a conditioner designed for wigs is best. I picked up a trick that I find takes away the dull look from synthetic curls. Instead of a conditioner, I sometimes

spray a solution of fabric softener and water into the hair and leave it one for a few minutes, then I rinse. The Brandywine anti-static conditioner does an even better job. If you find that the hair is still tangled while conditioning, use your fingers to detangle as much as you can. You can always cut off impossible matted areas if this won’t affect the wig’s style.

When you are done conditioning the hair, blot dry with a towel carefully, then it’s time to style.

Styling and Maintaining Curls on Synthetic Curly Wigs

Synthetic curly wigs come pre-curled so you won’t need to do any scrunching or finger curling. Since its synthetic you do need to add lots of moisture to the hair. Add regular conditioner or a thick creamy leave in conditioner conditioning directly to the damp hair and detangle with your fingers if there are any tangles left. Next add some styling mousse or gel to keep the curls defined. For wigs with kinky curls you may also add some lightweight oil before the mousse to combat dryness. Don’t go overboard with the oil as too much can weigh the hair down and look too shiny. You can finish off with hairspray for hold, but that’s not necessary for most curly wigs.

Curly hair wigs and curly hairstyles are here to stay. If you decide to try the curly look by using a wig, these steps should help your curly wig look great and last longer.

© 2018 Rosheda Stephenson


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 19, 2018:

I learned much about washing and conditioning wigs. My mother used to do it for me, but she's gone so thanks for the instructions.

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