First it was toilet paper, then it was yeast, then exercise equipment. Now the latest quick-to-sell-out category spurred by the pandemic is wigs. The New York Times recently reported on the shortage of both hair and lace (which hair is sewn onto in order to make wigs), explaining that people — mainly Black women — have been stockpiling through quarantine. Wigs have long been lauded as a protective style, ideal for people who don’t want to manipulate their own hair every day, but they’re also a nice solution when you can’t see your stylist with regularity, a reality many of us are currently facing. With wig inventory still fluctuating, we spoke to a handful of experts to uncover the worthwhile still-in-stock options out there.
There’s a vast landscape of hair vendors and wig types to sort through online, but we’ve decided to focus on lace-front wigs — which are among the most natural-looking — here. But before we get into the ones our experts trust, there are some general rules of thumb to consider when shopping for a wig. “Some things we are looking for are virgin unprocessed hair, softness, minimal hair shedding, color- and thermal-safe, a transparent and thin lace, and density of 150 to 220 percent,” says Kadeisha Placide, manager and lead stylist at Brooklyn salon Classic Beauty Studio. Some of those details you will only be able to tell once the wig arrives, so be mindful of the return policy. The size of the wig is also important. Placide says that 13-by-4 is a practical size for a lace frontal and that an average cap size is 22 inches. However, sometimes wigs will come in multiple sizes, so measure your head and make sure you are getting the right one.
With that in mind, below are the (still in stock) wigs Placide and four other experts swear by.
Best lace-front wigs
Amazon might be an unexpected source for wigs, but it came recommended by two of our experts. “A reliable and affordable place to shop for wigs, as with a lot of your other necessities, is Amazon,” Placide says. She points out that Amazon, unlike many other websites, has plenty of reviews, which can help with the vetting process. “We find great units by doing our research and scanning through the seller’s listing details and previous customers’ reviews,” she adds. One of Placide’s favorite vendors is UNice, because the hair is easy to customize. This wig is made of 100 percent human, unprocessed hair, and it’s also single-donor hair, meaning the hair all comes from the same person (and will therefore look more consistent). It hits the density sweet spot at 180 percent, has adjustable straps and combs for a more custom and snug fit, and comes pre-plucked and with baby hairs, so you can skip that step during the install process. (Plucking the hairline of the wig before you install is crucial for a more natural look.) Beauty YouTuber Mikaela White, known as Pisces Finest to her followers, also recommends the hair from UNice because “the hair quality is supersoft, and the lace is actually really transparent and really goes on my skin seamlessly,” she says. “It’s really hard to tell that it’s even there.”
Jessica Hair is another Amazon vendor recommended by Placide. Like UNice, it’s a 100 percent human-hair wig, and it comes pre-plucked and with the baby hairs already cut. It has 150 percent hair density and comes with adjustable straps and little combs for a tight fit.
A’lea Malcolm-Young has over 400,000 followers on TikTok, where she spreads the word about good Amazon wigs (among other things), and this is one of her favorites. In general, she says, Amazon is great because of the fast shipping and the affordable price points. When it comes to finding a specific one, “the first thing I do is look through the description,” she says. “You want to make sure that it says 100 percent human hair, because a lot of times, they will advertise it as human hair but then you look at the material and I’ll see something different,” she explains. She also looks for at least 150 percent density, “because the wigs that are 130 and below are going to be very thin,” she notes.
Malcolm-Young says that AliExpress is another place to shop for hair. “I tend to stick to one vendor that I trust, which is Ali Coco hair,” she says. “They’re very, very good for an affordable price.” The wigs are made of human hair and are 150 and up density. Even better, the price starts at under $60, making it the cheapest wig on this list. Another detail to pay attention to is the color of the lace. Malcolm-Young says you want the lace to be as transparent as possible; sometimes, you’ll find a wig with lace that’s been tinted, and it might not match your skin tone. When that happens, she says you might need to add makeup or wig tint to get the right color.
Best full-lace wigs
True to their names, lace-front wigs only lace around the front of the hairline, while full-lace wigs have lace around the entire head. This allows you to wear the hair entirely up or part it wherever you want, because the entire thing will look like your own scalp. It’s a pricier option, not only because of the versatility but also because most full-lace wigs are made by hand. Aasiyah Abdulsalam, the founder of the Wig Fix, says Chia V Hair has an “amazing high-end lace selection.” Nicole Fulton, one of the co-founders of the Hair Closet, explains that HD, film, or transparent lace looks particularly good and is usually on the higher end, as far as cost goes, but since they are thinner and more delicate they might not last as long. For something more durable that also looks nice, she recommends Swiss or Korean lace. This particular one comes in classic HD lace as well as luxe Swiss lace.
For more unique colors and styles, Abdulsalam likes What Wigs founded by Noah Scott, who happens to be responsible for Khloé Kardashian’s short brown bob. These are the most expensive wigs on the list, but they are 100 percent virgin human hair. They also come with a glueless cap, which means if you don’t want to go through the process of adhering it to your head, you don’t have to. Keep in mind that you’re also paying for unique dye jobs — not to mention the celebrity seal of approval. For someone like Abdulsalam, who has had some of her human-hair wigs for five years, it might be a worthy investment.
This full-lace-wig recommendation from Abdulsalam is a fraction of the cost of What Wigs. The lace color is transparent, the hair is still 100 percent human, and they come in fun colors (this one is “pumpkin spice”). Abdulsalam thinks it’s a great pick for anyone new to wearing wigs. “They have a lot of content (mainly on Instagram) about the installation process,” and the brand’s large community gives each other tips about wigs, she says, which is especially helpful for beginners. Perhaps the only downside is that the density of this one is only 130 percent, but if you’re looking for something that isn’t so heavy, that might not be a deal-breaker.
Best synthetic wigs
INH Hair is another brand that Abdulsalam recommends for beginners. The hair is synthetic, which also means it’s cheaper — and therefore less of an investment if something goes wrong. All of the brand’s wigs are made ready to wear, so there is no need for a multistep install process. Synthetic hair has long been touted as a no-no when it comes to wigs and extensions, but Abdulsalam says, given all of the advancements in the market, that’s no longer true. “Synthetic hair is getting more and more realistic and wearable,” she explains. “There are even premium ones that you can dye and that hold more heat than real hair.” One notable downside to synthetic wigs is that you can’t typically repart them, restyle them, or change much about them. Still, for onetime wear that you can use out of the box, they’re a good option.
In addition to the aforementioned human-hair units, the Hair Closet also makes synthetic wigs — though they are technically a synthetic blend, meaning “there’s some human hair in there that allows you to do more of the things that you will do with human hair at a cheaper price,” Fulton explains. “You can use heat on these products, they flow like your natural hair, and they’re not too shiny or too plastic.” It’s also designed with the more durable Swiss or Korean lace, and is heat-resistant up to 375 degrees, so you can make minor touch-ups to it.
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