It’s probably the second-most question I get emailed: “I’ve taken the plunge and bought my first synthetic hair piece, now how the heck do I care for it?”
Rest assured, taking care of synthetic hair (including synthetic extensions and synthetic hair wigs) is incredibly easy, and I’ll walk you through my basic washing routine and what products I use to keep my synthetic hair pieces looking good as new. Tips and trick to come, but this should get you started.
How Often I Wash Synthetic Hair
I wash my hair pieces about every two weeks. Towards the end of their lives (sounds macabre!), I find the need to wash more often, about one time per week. But, you should be able to get about two weeks out of a wash.
Since the hair is fake and not actually attached to your head, it doesn’t get oily and dirty. In face, the only part of the synthetic topper or wig that might get dirty is the base/cap (the part that actually touches your scalp).
Some may find they can go longer between washes; once my pieces start to get tangly, straw-like or clumpy, I know it’s time for a wash.
What Products I Use to Wash Synthetic Hair
I still use the first wig shampoo I ever bought, which is Revlon Texturizing Shampoo for Synthetic Hair. It’s a basic shampoo, but what I like about it is it removes a bit of the synthetic shine that many synthetic wigs and toppers have. Moreso than other shampoos, for whatever reason.
For conditioner, the corresponding Revlon conditioner did NOT work for me, and left my pieces feeling coated. Yuck. I tend to rotate between two conditioners: Enjoy Sulfate-free Hydrating Conditioner (this one was recommended to me for use on human hair pieces by a hair loss specialist a few years ago; it can be used on bio hair, too) and my regular Nioxin conditioner that I use on my own hair.
Both of these conditioners smell great (Enjoy is very fresh-smelling, and the Nioxin is slightly minty) and leave the hair so soft and swingy. I like that both can also be used on bio hair–I feel I am getting more bang for my buck that way. I’ve tried a few other drug-store brand conditioners and they don’t leave my hair as soft as these two.
Pinching pennies? Many women SWEAR by using any old shampoo or even laundry detergent on their synthetic pieces. Yes, laundry detergent!
Likewise, fabric softener is the conditioner of choice for some. I tried this once, and I ended up smelling like Snuggle Bear for a few days (something about my hair smelling like linen didn’t work for me). If you can find an unscented version it’s definitely worth a try to see if it leaves your hair as soft as you’d like. For me, I found the hair to be a bit dry.
How I Wash Synthetic Hair
This part is really simple. First, brush out the synthetic hair thoroughly. You’ve seen this brush in my “integrating my topper” video: I LOVE the Tangle Teezer brush. It’s great on both synthetic hair pieces (it’s so gentle) as well as bio hair.
Step 1: Fill a container/sink/something with cold water. Any container will do–check out my Easter basket-bucket-thing below! Water should always be cold with synthetic hair–using hot water can alter the style (pull out curls, take out swing, etc.).
Step 2: Add a squirt of shampoo into your container as it’s filling and allow bubbles to form.
Step 3: Place your piece into the water and swish it through, allowing the suds to work through it. Be gentle and don’t comb through it with your fingers. Doing so can do the same thing hot water can–it can alter the style.
Step 4: Allow it to sit awhile. I generally leave it in there for about 10 minutes, but sometimes a few hours if I forget. Oops.
Step 5: Remove your synthetic hair from the basin and rinse it gently under cool water. Always rinse in the same direction as the hair lies. Don’t wring it!
Step 6: Dump out the water, and refill your basin with clean water. Squirt a generous amount of conditioner into it. Swish your piece through the water.
Step 7: Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes–you can leave it overnight if you want.
Step 8: Remove and gently rinse. Again, don’t wring it. You can carefully squeeze out excess water once you are done rinsing.
Step 9: Lay your synthetic wig or topper onto a large bath towel and fold the towel over and around it. I know it sounds crazy, but step on the towel to remove all the excess water. This accomplishes the same thing wringing does, without ruining the wig style.
Step 10: Hang your hair piece up to dry. I usually clip a hanger to its tag, and hang it upside-down in the shower.
Synthetic hair dries much faster than human hair. Usually it’s good to go in 3-4 hours (and I have a long piece). Typically, however, I wash my pieces at night and hang to dry overnight so that they are ready to go in the morning.
Is a Leave-In Conditioner Necessary?
Not necessarily, but I use one out of habit. Try it without for awhile and see what you think. I do think if you get the right one, it coats the hair in a way that leaves it with better movement, longer. I use Velvasil Conditioning Spray. Unlike many leave-ins, this doesn’t leave ANY buildup. Buildup is especially bad for synthetics because it can cause clumping, so I definitely keep this in my arsenal.
Once your synthetic hair gets a bit older, you’ll find it needs to be washed more often. Sometimes a simple rinse under cool water and a few spritzes of Velvasil is enough to revive mine for another week.
What do you think? Easier than you thought? Taking care of synthetic hair is so easy, and the beauty of it is once it’s dry, you gently comb through it, give it a bit of a shake, and it looks brand new.
Too bad we can’t say the same about our bio hair, right?