August 14, 2017

Choosing a wig isn’t easy, here’s how to choose a wig for the first time.


When I was pregnant with my third child, I lost my hair. Over the period of a month, I noticed large quantities of it falling out till almost all was gone; my obstetrician and dermatologist did a battery of tests and ultimately I was diagnosed with severe alopecia areata, an immune phenomenon where your body mistakenly attacks your own hair follicles.

“Alopecia” in itself means “hair loss” and can occur for a variety of reasons including hereditary problems, autoimmune processes, systemic diseases like anemia or thyroid disorders, hormonal changes, stress, severe illness, or as a side effect to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In some cases, the hair will grow back and in other cases, unfortunately, it may not.

Whatever the reason for the alopecia though, it can change the way you view yourself because the person you look at in the mirror doesn’t quite look like the person you remember seeing before. This can affect your confidence and self-esteem, and lead to problems such as social anxiety and even depression. Thankfully nowadays there are options to help cover your alopecia and make you feel a little more like yourself, and one that I have found most helpful in learning how to choose a good wig.

Tips for choosing a wig

When you are buying a wig for the first time, you have to choose between buying online or visiting a store. I have done both and found there are advantages to either. Buying online gives you a lot of options; I would just be sure to review the return policy before purchasing – sometimes a wig doesn’t fit the way you thought it would based on the picture. Buying in the store helps you get an idea of not only the look of a wig but also the feel of it. You can buy wigs in different sizes and colors, though not every wig has every option available.

Wigs are made from natural hair or synthetic material. Usually wigs made from real hair are longer and more expensive. They look very natural and can be styled in different ways. If cared for properly, they can last upwards of a year. The major advantage to synthetic wigs is cost. The other advantage is they can be worn right out of the box if you so desire; the material has built-in memory so will usually look styled even if you haven’t done anything to it. The lifespan of a synthetic wig is shorter — somewhere around 4-6 months.

Whichever type of wig you pick, here are a few tips:

  • Pick a size that fits your head snugly.
  • Make sure the material feels comfortable on your head; wigs can be itchy.
  • Consider the options for wig caps, a layer of thin material that can go under your wig for comfort and to help with itching. Just be aware that this can make it fairly hot under your wig.
  • Be sure to take your wig to your hairdresser to get it cut to fit your face perfectly. Very rarely does one come out of the box fitting you exactly right.
  • Buy a wig-stand to hold your wig and keep its shape.
  • Make sure you care for your wig regularly to preserve its lifespan.
  • Lastly, wear it proudly. You are beautiful!


This post was written by Maya Neeley, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician specializing in hospital medicine at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She adores her husband and four young boys and loves spending time with family and good friends.