I know we got off to a dismal start but, I thought it would be best to get the bad out of the way so we can adjust our wigs and get to the good stuff! So, hair growth. Yes, your hair will grow in a protective style. It will also grow if you do absolutely nothing, just as it will grow in braids, twists and whatever other protective style you choose. The focus should not be on growth, which will happen anyway at your genetically determined rate, but rather on retaining as much of that growth as possible.
I mentioned in the previously that wigs are not a magical incubator that will ‘grow your hair’. What they can do is help you retain length by protecting your hair from frequent manipulation. So basically, if your hair is in cornrows under your wig, you won’t get to play around with it much, which means less breakage and more length retention. Assuming we have taken all the precautions and avoided the bad stuff mentioned in the previous post, the focus now should be on maintaining that health and retaining length… How?
1. Choose an appropriate ‘under-wig’ style
Cornrows are my go-to because they last the longest and are very low maintenance. They also lay flat so my wig sits well and looks as natural as possible every time.
2. Protect your ends
This is the single most important point. However you choose to do it, try not to leave your ends hanging loose. You can sew the ends of your cornrows down (as you would when getting a sew-in weave), or you can wrap them with thread (as in African threading). This is probably the best method and I promise you, it will help you retain the most length.
3. Wear a stocking cap under your wig
This will stop your wig from rubbing onto your natural hair, which can cause breakage, especially around your hairline and nape. It’s even more important if the lace on your wig is rough and scratchy (common with synthetic lace front wigs); a stocking cap in this case would make your wig feel more comfortable and prevent irritation along your hairline.
4. Oil your edges
How often you choose to do this is up to you. I oil by edges every other night and massage my hairline for a few minutes. I also oil my entire scalp twice a week
5. Moisturise often
Again, this depends on your hair. I always spritz my hair with water or apply a leave-in conditioner when I remove my wig at the end of the day. This helps to keep my hair moisturised and prevents unnecessary dryness and breakage.
6. Wrap your natural hair before bed
We already know this one. Satin scarf, bonnet, satin pillowcase… Whatever you choose to use, keep your hair wrapped and keep it away from cotton bedding which can rub and break your hair as well as sucking moisture out of it.
7. Wash and condition your hair (fairly regularly)
It’s tempting to stretch any protective hairstyle for months but honestly, the build-up of product alone should gross you out into washing your hair at least every three weeks. It will also give you the opportunity to detangle and remove any shed hairs which can accumulate and cause all kinds of knots. Remember, shed hairs are full lengths of hair, breakage is smaller bits. You should always look out and make sure your breakage isn’t excessive.
8. Take a wig-break
The say you would not keep braids for longer than 10 weeks (or whatever your upper limit), you should also give your hair a break every now and again. It will give you an opportunity to assess your hair’s health and adjust your regimen accordingly.
…and a couple of bonus points so we can get to 10, why not?
9. Take your wig off at night
Sleeping with your wig on may not necessarily damage your hair but it can damage the wig itself. If you want to preserve the style of the wig, take it off at night and place it on a wig stand. It will save you a lot of styling time in the morning.
10. …and don’t forget to wash your wig too
I’ve had some of my wigs for about three years now and that’s because I wash and condition them and care for them as I would my natural hair, except I use a lot more heat on them but that’s not the point… The point is, your wig is also your hair so take care of it and it will look good for a long time, and save you a lotta money in the long run.
At the end of it all, healthy hair is the goal. A wig shouldn’t make you forget your natural hair, which still needs a lot of love and care for it to truly flourish, but help you achieve your goals of healthier and/or longer hair. If you notice any damage to your hair, take some time to figure out what’s going on. Hair problems do not typically fix themselves.