How to Swim in a Wig or Topper (Yes, It Can Be Done!)

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At long last, you’ve decided wearing helper hair is your next step.

You’ve researched the style to try, you’ve settled on a color, and you’re THISCLOSE to pulling the trigger on that first purchase.

But, something hits you like a ton of bricks.

How in the heck do you swim with wigs or toppers?

The one thing I truly believe throughout hair-wearing is that you can do anything—I repeat ANYthing—you would normally do, in your new, fab hair.

Even swimming. Yes, even swimming! You just need to adjust your expectations a bit.

Let’s talk about how swimming works with both a wig and a topper.

how to swim in a wig

Can You Swim in a Wig?

The short answer is yes, but you’ll need to be aware of a few things.

I highly recommend that you swim ONLY in a cheap, synthetic wig.

Why?

Two reasons:

1) Chlorine and salt will wreak havoc on your hair. If you’ve spent some serious money on human hair, the last thing you want to do is shorten its lifespan, right?

2) Splashing around is ok, but if you plan to submerge your head at all, the wig will stretch out if it’s both wet and taut on your head.

In my opinion, shortening the lifespan of a wig and having it stretch out a little is fine if I’ve spent only a few hundred bucks on a wig, but if I’ve spent a ton of money (maybe even thousands) on human hair?

No way.

If you’re just laying by the pool or playing in the pool with the kids, but not doing any major swimming, wearing any synthetic as your normally would in regular day-to-day activities is probably fine.

(“But, Lauren, if I’m just sunbathing, can’t I just wear my human hair?”

Please don’t. The sun will do nothing but oxidize and fade the color. I still think it’s best to use synthetic even when just sitting around by the pool!)

Speaking of sun bathing, sunhats can be difficult with helper hair, so a visor is a good way to keep the sun out of your face. You’ve probably seen these visors—they don’t close in the back so they are easily adjusted no matter how much hair you are wearing on your head.

Also, since I wear longer hair, I’d probably do a cute side-braid or something to keep cooler.

If you are wanting to do some sort of water sport or fully submerge your hair, then you need a few tools to keep that puppy secure.

Even though it might seem a little cumbersome, I’d recommend the WiGrip under your wigs to make sure it does not slip back—especially if the force of the water via swimming threatens to push your wig back (you may recall reading about this product in my post about wearing wigs in a ponytail).

If you’re worried about how the hair will look after it gets wet, particularly at the hairline, you could always wear a cloth headband or a bandana over the hairline. A sport headband might be a good solution, and I’ll talk more about this in just a minute.

Can You Swim in a Topper?

There are considerations to take into account with swimming in a hair topper as well.

I still recommend synthetic hair, since chlorine and salt can be very damaging to any kind of hair fiber. Preserve that human hair, and only take risks with synthetic!

Splashing around or sunbathing is super-easy in a topper. I’ve done this a zillion times.

If you want to go underwater or doing any sort of water sport, you MUST secure your topper with something.

Why?

Not only do you want the extra security that your hair won’t fly off the second a wave hits you, but, your bio hair is extra fragile when it’s wet.

You want to be 100% sure that the topper clips will NOT pull on your delicate hair. So, it’s necessary to use something to ensure the topper doesn’t budge.

One good solution is a sport headband.

There are several different ways to wear this product (it’s so versatile!), including like a headband/hairband.

This will work to both keep your hair out of your eyes, help with any hairline issues, and ensure your topper stays in place in the water.

Hair Under Hat Products

There are some products worth checking out if you’re looking to have the look of hair under a hat. These would work if you’re 100% bald, or they can be placed over your bio hair.

Milano makes “hat falls“. These hats have human hair attached to them, so it just looks like you are wearing a hat. With this particular product, you can wear any hat.

These are great for vacations!

Milan also makes velcro hat falls. Basically you pick the hair, then pick the hat. The hair is attached to any of their special hats with velcro.

Hip Hats with Hair is another company that will use human hair under a hat…the site is a bit difficult to navigate but their products come recommended by other hair-wearers.

How to Swim With Wimpy Bio Hair

Prefer to forgo the wig or topper while swimming? You can always make do with a stretchy headband and a ponytail bun…I’ve done this before for a cute, casual look.

They are really inexpensive, so if it gets ruined, no big deal!

There you have it, friends. My semi-ultimate guide to swimming with helper hair.

It does take some planning, but you can enjoy all the summertime activities you are used to, even if you wear hair.

Those that wear hair, how do you get around this issue?

Those of you considering hair, do you think any of these solutions could work for you?

41 thoughts on “How to Swim in a Wig or Topper (Yes, It Can Be Done!)”

  1. A while back I got a job working at a beach resort for the summer. Basically the job entailed (pun intended) wearing a long, rainbow-colored synthetic wig and swimming in it hardcore using a monofin and sequined lycra mermaid tail for two four hour long sessions per day as a fun spectacle for the guests. I inexpertly cornrowed my own hair which was about shoulder length at the time and then sewed the required wig to my cornrows. That was also what my fellow mermaids did except one who was bald by choice who used spirit gum or something similar. I washed and rinsed my wig, hair, and scalp as best I could every night in the shower to combat the chlorine, salt water, and grime but unsewed/ resewed the wig every week, leaving it off for my two precious days off. Wig-free was such a relief after a week of work! Plus no one recognized us without our crazy mermaid hair- also a big relief. Just figured I’d share this story with anyone who might need to anchor a wig for active swimming for days at a time for whatever reason.

  2. What’s the best place to buy synthetic topper what should I be looking for to get a good one and how do you get some of the shine out of it

  3. I have worn hair for about 4 yrs. I have been wearing medium length so I have been able to wear a ball cap to swim in. Now I am going pixie. How do I keep my wig on in water. I will be submerging my head. Do I use tape, glue, pins, clips….
    I know you mentioned a sports band. Would you please explain with a pixie cut.

  4. Hi! So what does the synthetic hair look like if you submerge your head in the pool? Does it get dry and clumpy? Even if it’s pulled back, I think it might look obviously fake… I just am sick of not going all the way under and am curious. Anyone have any pics of their hair right after jumping in the pool?

    • No pics, unfortunately…do you have a wig to try? Maybe a quick shower is in order to test it out. 🙂 The biggest issue in my mind is going to be the hairline, depending on the wig.

  5. Yes. I’m talking about human hair. I am thinking of shaving my head and bonding a wig. I would braid it, put it in a baseball cap and surf away if it was bonded. Then, i would rinse it immediately, condition it, and oil it at night. I’ve heard women do this and it works. Obviously, my wig will need to be replaced quicker than the average woman. So, I’d like to find a human hair wig that isn’t thousands. But, do you know anyone that has done this. Surfing is really important to me.

    • I think you should be ok since you understand it’ll wear harder. You’ll need to experiment – I’m not sure if maybe tape would hold better in the water than glue. I think it could be done, though! I don’t know anyone personally that does this but I have heard of avid swimmer doing so, I just can’t remember the attachment method.

  6. I’m curious about getting hair wet too. I”m getting my first topper on Thursday. I’m going to clip it in for now. I’m hoping my hair will grow back, as I’ve been on medication that I’m hoping was the cause of thinking. I still have enough hair that when I surf, I can go without my topper and just wear a baseball cap. I normally surf in one anyway to keep the sun off my face. However, I get thrown under and tossed about in the water. I’m wondering about surfing in a full wig. Part of me really wants to just shave all my hair and go the wig route. I’d get it bonded, and all. But, I’m curious if I could surf in it. I spend hours in the ocean. I know I could spray in a conditioner, braid it, put it under a hat, and rinse it immediately when I get out. Has anyone done this? I can’t believe that everyone who wears wigs stays out of the water. That doesn’t seem fair in this day and age. If the hair stayed on, and I rinsed, brushed, and oiled it every night, is it doable???

    • Are you talking synthetic or human hair? Helper hair gets extremely heavy when wet, much heavier than our own hair…so that’s one (annoying) limitation.

  7. Hi Lauren, I have a question. For wigs and/ or toppers in the pool, what does it really look like when it’s fully immersed? I.e. does it look just like when a person normally has wet hair? I guess my biggest worry is that for a topper, if the hair gets wet and sort of “shrinks” and sticks to the crown, the base of the topper will immediately become very obvious… not that I plan on doing the whole full immersion experience, but I think a fear of what it COULD like makes me hesitant to be near water at all… any comments or suggestions would be appreciated! 😛

    • Hi M. Longish time no talk!

      The hair will look normal as you emerge from the water…the only thing that might look “off” is the hairline, unless you incorporate your own hair into it. With human hair, you probably would worry a bit less but with synthetic hair, it will probably dry all funky against the “scalp” and look strange. I definitely suggest pulling it back/braiding it and wearing a headband. Plus, with either synthetic or human hair, if it does dry in a way that the hair separates you might see the topper base or wig cap. Too many risks to wear the hair down while swimming. 🙂

      • II am going to ask a stupid question But can you tell me that How does the tape work and how do you make it stay on your head for 2 to 4 weeks like was written in some that I was looking at I have my head shaved cause of Botox treatments and it is for a medical procedure for Migraines and we had had several in our family That had Cancer and instead of all thinks I started using the Clippers And can you use a blow dryer and a curling iron on the synthetic ones And if you have it on with the tape or glue whichever you think is best can you wash it like just when you take a shower I will say I have had my wigs for almost 2 years and I love them Though sometimes and I have gotten them Both from Amazon thank you for this sight

        • Hi there,

          1) The tape is double-sided so you apply one side to the piece and the other side to your scalp. Some strong tape can last that long (2ish weeks – I do not have experience with that).
          2) A blowdryer or curling iron should not be used on most synthetics – if you want to use these you should get a HD (heat defiant) synthetic.
          3) Yes, you can shower with your pieces if taped/glued but will only want to do so with Human Hair, definitely not synthetic. I don’t have direct experience doing this so you might want to get a bit more info on this from the places you buy your current wigs.

          Hope that helps!
          Lauren

    • If you’re wearing a topper, the headband will go all the way around your head (whereas the topper just clips to the top), so the headband will help to anchor it to your head. For both a wig and a topper, the headband can be placed right at the hairline so you don’t have to worry about how it looks with wet hair. I hope that helps!

  8. I’m still in phase where I can wear my hair in a ponytail to cover up the hair loss (it’s mostly around the crown). But, since I’m 32 and the hair loss is progressing, I’m sure I’ll need some help by next summer. Are all the boosters and hair powders a no-go for swimming? I assume they would run pretty badly…

      • I’ve used dermatch! It is waterproof, but not perfect. I noticed towards the end of the day it would look kind of clumpy. My hair is too thin to carry it off any more. I’m going to get a cheap topper for swimming and give this a try with a headband. I know this coming summer there will be some trips to the beach and the water park!

  9. Not wearing hair yet but it is in my future and I’m very concerned because my two favorite activities are swimming and yoga. I swim (an hour) at least 2800 yards (over 1 1/2 miles) 6 or 7 days/week. I currently wear a cap into the pool area and do not remove it until I am in the shower. Don’t know how I will manage this in the future. Any ideas?

    Currently wear a very thick headband to yoga but wondering how down dog will work with topper or wig.

    Worry about these two problems a lot.

    Would appreciate any recommendations.

    • For swimming, what part are you most concerned about? Putting on hair post-shower? Or something else? Do you change at the pool or do you arrive there with your cap already on?

      A topper will easily work for yoga as it’s secured on top by clips, plus depending on your hair style you can wear a headband over it to help secure it further. Even downward dog would be no match. With a wig, same concept applies. I’ve tried wigs before that have a clip sewn in at the nape to help give it extra security, as well.

      • I change when I get to the pool and shower afterwards in the pool locker room. I wear some kind of hat/cap to the natatorium and put on my swim cap before proceeding to the pool area. I guess I am wondering whether to wear a wig/topper with latex swim cap over it or to continue what I’m doing. I guess I would feel uncomfortable putting a topper/wig on in the locker room.

        • If it was me, I’d definitely try the cap over hair just to see if I could make it work. I’d imagine it would take some finagling but once it’s on, IT’S ON and you probably wouldn’t give it a second though. Taking off the cap might be difficult? I have no experience with swim caps. I’m not sure how everything would look under the cap, but I’d definitely try (if you do, can you please let us know?).

          • Thanks. Sorry I haven’t been on recently with the busyness of the holidays. You asked what part I was concerned about and, although changing is one aspect, I’m also concerned that swim caps (even wearing two) are not leakproof and wondering about damage to “hair” for someone in the water seven to ten hours/week. Would synthetic be better than human? This is just all so new to me. My husband tells me that Bruce Willis and Sean Connery are in movies swimming with hairpieces but I imagine they are out of the price range for normal humans.

          • Synthetic would be a better option, yes, in my opinion. If it gets ruined it’s much cheaper to replace. That, and human hair gets really heavy while wet. I’d imagine a swim cap (or two) would keep the majority of the water out?

  10. I much prefer lounging in the sun or floating in a tube to submerging my head under water, but these are great tips!! My wet hair looks beyond awful (not to mention I need to be careful of sunburns!) so come summer I’ll probably have a designated beach topper that I can just throw back in a ponytail.

    • I started wearing my custom topper in February of this year. It took four months to get it, and I had a lot more hair loss in those four months due to family trauma, so now it is really time for a new piece. I wear human hair though I do have a Amore Stevie wig from which I removed some wefts and wear on weekends. I stopped swimming about five years ago because my hair is so thin. At that time, I would put my hair up with cute plastic clips to mask the hair loss. No way I can do that now, so I really love the ideas.

      I am replying to your post because you mentioned sunburn. An unexpected awesome advantage to wearing helper hair is that my scalp is no longer sustaining further sun damage. We all have varying degrees of skin cancer in my family (no melanoma!).

      Another plus. I am not crazy about hats so this winter, I am looking forward to going outside – without a hat if I don’t feel like it – because my head is covered!

      Love to all.

      Valerie

  11. I know this isn’t a swimming activity but it got me to think of it as an option for swimming. I did a color run a couple months ago and didn’t want my precious wig to possibly be affected so I got a really pretty and lightweight scarf and used it as a head wrap. You could coordinate it with your beachwear. I’ve played with turban style and just wrapping it like a bun. Gives you the illusion of a ton of hair. Paired with sunglasses you look very 50’s glam.

  12. Thanks so much for this post Lauren. I’ve only been wearing a topper for a couple of months so haven’t had too many different experiences with it yet but definitely have thought about the swimming thing. I love to snorkel and swim in the ocean and really don’t want to do it with just my bio hair. I have a smaller topper in a darker color that would probably be perfect for this type of thing so as not to damage my regular helper hair. My friends and I were talking about going skydiving the other day (something I love to do) and it occurred to me that I have NO idea what I’d do under those intense circumstances. Or even rollercoasters, something else I love to do. Have you worn your topper on some of the crazy upside down coasters?

      • Thanks Lauren – that’s so good to know about the rollercoasters! I probably won’t be jumping out of any airplanes till spring, will let you know how it goes when I do though. That’ll definitely be a time to wear a cheap topper in case it flies off! 🙂

  13. Hello all!

    I bought a very cheap synthetic hair topper (maybe $150 if that) and went swimming in the pool and salt water and it’s still in great condition! I threw it on with a wide hair band, put my bio hair and the topper in a messy bun on top of my head and didn’t even think twice about it falling off! Granted it was a smaller topper (meant for parts only) not my every day Noriko so it was easier to secure.

    I am 23 years old and for once felt happy this summer. So if I can go swimming in a topper, so can you!

    Hope this helps!

    🙂

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