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Working with Wigs | Breaking the Stigma with Darrel Starkey

October 27, 2021

From the beginning of my hairdressing career, I made it my goal to learn about every aspect of hairdressing, ensuring that I was and am a hairstylist that caters to every client, every need and every request possible.

Working with Wigs | Breaking the Stigma with Darrel Starkey 1

However, it’s with no shame that I tell you that when it came to certain aspects, I found myself a little more nervous and slightly apprehensive. This was certainly the case when it came to wigs – for some reason, wigs had and still do have a stigma attached to them, with many stylists also feeling a bit nervous so try.

Having worked with wigs for a good amount of time, I have began using them within my creative work, as I feel this allows me to push the boundaries of my skills and it give me a chance to continuously try something new and a little different. It’s not something I would offer to my clients just yet, but I feel confident enough in myself to show off the work I’ve produced whilst learning.

The First Wig Experience

Its daunting, of course it is, it’s something new and you want to show off your skills. But always approach it with a positive and eager to learn mindset. Someone once told me that everyone is a beginner at one time and this has stuck with me ever since – even the greatest of hairdressers were beginners, so I rolled with it.

I thought of wig like a mannequin head at first, as a wig is so similar to this, something artificial that can be worked with. I remember doing my research looking at the best way to cut a wig, how best to colour it and the best way to make it work for your vision.

Once I got in the zone, the haircut just flowed and I was over the moon. It wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined it, but as they say – practice makes perfect, and with continuous persistence, I become much more confident.

Cutting Advice

When I know I’ll be using a wig for a shoot or creative work, I always have a vision in my head of what I want to achieve, this is always my starting block for any client or collection. Then when I source the model, the look is tailored to work to their jaw line and overall look – as it needs to work together to create the perfect finish.

For me preferably, I like to cut the wig when placed on a wig stand or mannequin, as this, I feel, gives the most even and balanced platform. I place several pins along the lace line to secure. Make sure the wig is secure and straight.

Secondly I take the time to gently brush out any tangles or knots – be as gentle as possible as wigs are delicate, being to heavy handed can result in damage to the wig.

Length cuts

Then, let’s get creative. Just as you would with a normal client cut, start at the back of the hair, working in small sections. I would recommend holding the hair as you usually would when you cut, flat between your middle and index fingers.

Cut the hair at a 45 degree angle, as this keeps the cut more natural. Remember take the cut slow, you don’t want to cut the hair too short too quickly. At the end, trim the hair to ensure the length is all even and natural.

Layer Cuts

Wigs don’t ever need to be plain and simple, I often get creative and play around with different lengths and layers to give myself more of a challenge.

Dependant on the type of wig you are styling, depends on the technique you would use – however all are pretty much the same as a regular client cut, except with a wig, you can be much more creative and daring if you wish. Remember it’s all about the elevation of the hair and the angle at which it is cut.

Cutting in Bangs

Again, much more simpler than it seems once you know how. Again, take your time and be patient!

Start off by gathering the hair over the forehead that you’d like to cut, ensuring the section is even on both sides where sectioned. Section off the rest of the loose hair, leaving your front section free. Taking a small section first for a length guide, cut at your preferred length. Then, gently pull down the further sections, cutting to the length – this is the beginning of the bangs. Remember to pinch the hair at your desired length to check the length is still suitable. 

Styling the Wig

Styling a wig is always so fun, as you are nearing the end of the style and the finished look is almost complete. When using a human hair wig, this can be styled in most ways, as it would in the salon.

However always style the hair when dry and not wet – if styled when wet, this can have a severe effect on the construction of the wig and cause irreversible damage. Oh and never, ever forget a heat protection spray – this is a MUST!

Final Advice on Wigs

  • Never be afraid to try something new – you never know, this could be the beginning of something so special and that you excel at in so many ways. 
  • Always ask questions, no question is every silly or too simple. We were all learners once and love nothing more than helping each other grow as stylists and work on our skills.
  • Use a human hair wig where possible. I find these much easier to work with.
  • Have fun and be creative!