SO FITTINGby Naomi Mannino
It´s only natural to get a little nervous whena client falls seriously ill, faced with total or par-tial hair loss, and comes to you for help. Will you be able to treat them compas-sionately? Will you have the expert knowledge you need to guide them towards a so-lution that fits their budget, looks, upkeep, and life-style? Do you know how to cut and style a wig? Do you know how to teach your clients how to care for their wig at home? “More and more of my clients have been diagnosed with cancer,” explains Trevor Sorbie, creator of www.myne-whair.org, “ and they have been asking me to style a wig for them. I realized I can use my experience and expertise to ad-vise and help women at this particularly difficult time in their lives.” Help your clients come to terms with choosing a wig as beautifully and seamlessly as possible.
STEP 1: GET A PICTURE
All hairstylists who have worked with cancer patients say to get a picture of your client before they got ill. If you have a good relationship with your clients, they may tell you their health issues so you´ll know about it before they lose their hair. That´s the best time to help them choose a wig because you can see and feel their hair texture and density and matchit very closely. Some clients may want to choose something totally different from their normal look, and for those clients you can embrace the creativity of trying on different styles and colors, advises Diahna Husbands of Diahna Lynn Hair Stu-dio, a hair replacement expert in Silver Spring, Maryland.
STEP 2: MEASURE ACCURATELY
You´ll need some measurements whether you´re choosing a custom-made wig or a ready-to-wear wig, explains Hus-bands who worked as an apprentice for a well-known Ital-ian wig craftsmen and travelled all over the word teaching hairstylists how to use wigs. It doesn´t have to be hi-tech but measurements do have to be accurate for the best fit, otherwise the wig can ripple, bunch up, look strange or fall off! There are all types of molds but the simplest kind is saran wrap, draped over the head and a cloth or plastic measuring tape. Use white sports tape to mark head from the frontal hairline over the highest point of the head down to hairline at the nape of the neck. Then use the tape again over top of the head but this time from hairline behind each ear. Trace the entire hairline in indelible marker and also mark any cowlicks, parts, unusual characteristics that shape the head or hair and the client´s face shape. Take the following measurements:
- Circumference at the hairline
- Ear-to-ear over highest point of the head
- Front-to-nape at hairline
- Temple-to-temple across front hairline
- Width of the neck at the hairline
- Nape hairline to the occipital bone
STEP 3: CHOOSE A CAP
The cap is the part that fits the head so you want your cli-ent to be comfortable and there are many choices depend-ing on lifestyle habits and budget. Traditional, machine-made caps are the least-expensive type of wig and cap and may not look as natural as the newer more expensive hand-tied mono-top wigs or lace caps which are made to look like the natural hairline so natural scalp shows through. Multi-direction-al caps can be parted in any direction, and thin skin caps are good for those clients who like to swim or workout every day. ‘Cap-less´ means that there are open spaces between the wefts. There are also multi-directional wefts that are not meant for parting at all and can be worn permanently styled or teased.
STEP 4: CHECK THE COLORING
Note her skin tone, eye color, skin texture, eyebrow/lash color so that you can choose a wig color that looks natural on her. Go too dark and she´ll look even sicker; go too light and she´ll be washed out. You want to try to mimic her natural color-ing - or try something new that fits her natural coloring. Make sure you have extensive color swatch charts and wig samples which many professional wig manufacturers will supply.
STEP 5: DECIDE ON HAIR TYPE
Keep swatch kits of both natural and synthetic types of hair from different companies for your clients to see and feel. Usually, the quality and life-expectancy of a wig fiber is mea-sured by its similar appearance to human hair and also by its tolerance to heat. So this is the time for a budget discussion. “I never try to push my opinion on my ill clients; instead we just talk about the pros and cons of wig types. In the end, what-ever wig they decide on whether it´s a $30 wig or a $3000 wig, I will do my best to style it up perfectly just for them,” says Suki Duggan of Donsuki Townhouse Salon & Spa in New York City.
● VIRGIN HUMAN HAIR: Human hair harvested from the grow-er in its original state (never permed, colored, or chemically processed. ) The most desirable and most expensive is care-fully cut to maintain the cuticle growing in the same direction (called ‘Remy´ hair) and is of Russian, Ukrainian, Belgian, and Turkish origin. Virgin European hair wigs are the most expen-sive for customers who demand the highest quality.
● PROCESSED HUMAN HAIR: This more common, much cheap-er hair has had its cuticle removed and lengths run in any direction tangling more easily.
● SYNTHETIC FIBER: Any man-made fiber, most commonly polyester, acrylic, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The price de-pends upon its natural sheen and tolerance to heat and can range from $15 to over $650. Cannot be colored, permed or chemically processed. It´s the most affordable option with the easiest to care.
● INDIAN HAIR: Similar in texture to European hair but from India, with a finer in texture than most Asian hair types. Indo Hair, from Indonesia, is used in high quality wigs for its length, fine texture, softness, and lower cost than European hair.
● KANEKALON: A trademarked, Japanese-made synthetic fi-ber wig material. It has a fine texture and retains its shape after washing which more closely resembles natural hair and makes it a popular choice. Check for different quality levels of this fiber.
● HUMAN HAIR BLEND: A combination of human hair and syn-thetic fiber in, which holds its shape after washing, plus it looks more natural. The higher the ratio of human hair to synthetic gives this choice more versatility in styling.
● YAK HAIR: For clients desiring natural white or silver hair.
● YAKI HAIR: Also called Kinky-Straight or Perm-Straight hair which mimics African-American hair.
STEP 6: GET INSURANCE TO PAY FOR THE WIG!
“First of all don´t call it a wig,” cautions Shelly Beatty, owner of Stylemakers Salon in Fort Worth, Texas who deals exten-sively in medical hair loss issues for her clients. The medical terms for it is ‘CRANIAL PROSTHESIS´ and you´ll need your client´s doctor to write a prescription for it. Many insurance companies that cover prostheses of any kind will also cover a medically necessary wig for clients who experience total hair loss due to medical reasons. Once you have the pre-scription you can work with your client to determine what her insurance will pay for and decide on a type of wig that fits the parameters.
STEP 7: CUT & STYLE EXPERTLY
One thing all hairstylists agree on is that cutting a wig is nothing like cutting a real head of hair and that It takes twice as long to cut a wig. Typically wigs have too much hair and it looks “too full” so most stylists start by taking out the unnatural bulk. “I usually have my thinning shears on hand and I take the thin-ning shears all the way down to the scalp of the wig - small pieces at a time. So thin you can see through them to a news-paper,” advises Ping. “And always cut less rather than more because you can´t glue it back on!” Stylists also agree that you can never cut a straight line using scissors across a wig. “I always use a razor to style a wig because the edges are not so blunt as they would be if you used scissors,” adds Sorbie. Point-cutting also provides a natural finish to a wig. The best way to do it is to have the client come in and wear the wig for the cut if they can because even ready-to-wear wigs look best when trimmed up to suit your client´s face shape, advises Sorbie. Since practice makes perfect, you can purchase the cheapest wigs possible and have practice sessions where styl-ists plop wigs on each other and try to cut it to match the face shape of the wearer, as Sorbie does in his salons.
STEP 8: TEACH YOUR CLIENT
You´ll need to show your client how to properly put ona wig and how to care for it too. Check out Trevor Sorbie as he shows how to properly place wig simply on this Video-jug video at http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-put-on-a-wig-5 and practice, practice, practice. Here are some further points to tell clients about caring for a wig.
- Synthetic hair is not real hair so don´t use irons on it or blow-dry it because it can melt!
- Use special shampoos and conditioners made for wigs, es-pecially if hair is synthetic. Since wig hair is not connected to scalp it´s not getting natural oils so it doesn´t need the harsh detergents regular hair needs. Shampoos with no Sodium Lau-ryl Sulphate (SLS) are important to gentle wig care.
- Diahna Husbands 3-bucket wig-wash method: Fill three buckets with clear warm water. Use a capful of specialty wig shampoo and gently dunk the wig in the first bucket. No swirling! Check the cap for dirt and remove with fingers or soft cloth. No scrubbing! Gently dunk in clear water bucket to rinse and apply 2 capfuls of conditioner spread only on hair length (not cap) to ends with fingers. Rinse thoroughly in the last bucket with clear warm water by gently dunking.
- Dry overnight on a Styrofoam wig head for best shape and store the wig that way.
- Brush a wig with a nylon bristle paddle brush or a wide tooth comb if shorter. Never tug or pull on wig hair.
- Use regular styling products on wigs.