Making a Wig: How are Wigs Made?

 In Blog

Everyone seems to want to know where the things they use come from. We totally understand that! So, we wanted to explain a bit about how wigs are made. After all, this is the thing that some of you are wearing every day…it’s only natural to want to know all about making a wig!

How wigs are made

Wig Cap Sizes - petite, large and average. Making a wig takes more steps than you may expect!

Our retail store display in McMinnville, OR

You might be making a wig at home, which is great! Do know, though, that the homemaking process is a bit different from the general custom or hand-made process. At home, it’s entirely doable, but can be time-consuming depending on how natural and comfortable you want the finished product to be.  

That said, wigs are made either by hand or machine. Millions of people wear wigs, which means there are a lot of heads to cover. Understandably, machines are the more efficient method. Hand-tied wigs are more time-consuming, but produce a more natural look with less tangling.

Forming the wig base

All wigs start with a measurement (we described this in a previous post). It’s then marked by lining a ribbon around a mannequin, which mimics the hairline.

The foundation is laid over the ribbon, which is either net, lace or cotton. These are available in different colors and styles. The most sought-after is “lace front wigs”, which is flesh-colored and means there’s little visible distinction between the scalp and wig.

Choosing the hairHuman Hair High Profile Wig Raquel Welch Lace Front MonoTop -right side

One of the most common questions we get is, “where does the hair come from?”

Most wig hair is human, but others can be made from synthetic fibers, or a range of animals like goats, yaks and rabbits (also note that animals are not harmed in this process). It’s also rare that a wig is entirely made of animal hair – it’s typically a combination.

The hair is chosen here by the maker based on the length, color, style and thickness.

Preparing the hair

Once it’s been chosen, the hair is pulled through a “hackle”, a bed of upraised nails. This removes any tangles or broken strands. It’s then sorted and pulled into lengths. If this is done by hand, it’s extremely labor-intensive, but preserves the cuticles and results in the most natural-looking outcome.

The hair is then carefully cleaned before being put to use. Lastly it’s placed between drawing mats, to keep the hair straight.

Making a wig: Next stepsAdd 18 Hairpiece by Tony of Beverly 

Select your instrument

Making a wig is very similar to how a rug is made, which probably owes to the nickname.

This part is started with a ventilating needle. These come in different sizes, which are determined by the amount of strands you want in each knot (meaning, how full or flat do you want your wig?). For more strands and a fuller look, pick a larger needle; for less strands, choose a smaller one.

Now comes the real work

This process is always started at the neck area. The hair is folded in the root, making a loop, then taken through the lace, tied at each individual lace stitching (you can see why we said it’s “time-consuming”!). Wigmakers use a single or double knot, but always make sure to keep the hair tense at the bottom.

It’s started from the bottom and sides, and moved inwards. The “apex” here, or finishing point, is making the swirl and parting.

Time to finish

Imagine a head of hair being grown for the first time. It comes in rough and scraggly, despite all the initial care. So, it’s time to clean up!

The hair is wetted and left to dry. Now, it’s given some style, as well as the final cutting. At this point, the wig is ready to be donned!

As you can see, making a wig is quite the process! What we said in a few paragraphs is the summary of hours of hard work. We used to order custom wigs and know firsthand about the process. If you want to see the finished product, or have any questions about it, come by the store and try one on!

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