If you've lost all or most of your hair (for whatever reason—chemo, genetics, an autoimmune disease like alopecia areata), you might want to consider a wig. The good and bad news: You have hundreds of options. To sort through them, we called wig expert Linda Whitehurst, National Project Director for Look Good Feel Better and owner of Parasol Hair Studio in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here are three important things to consider:
1. Human hair wigs have the most swing and bounce and can be washed and heat-styled just like your old hair. They’ll last several years—but they can cost several thousand dollars. Today’s synthetic hair wigs are almost as authentic-looking, require less maintenance, and can start under $100. If you’re wearing one every day, it will last three to six months.
2. Think about how you usually wear your hair. If you like to pull it back, your wig’s cap should have lace at the crown for a natural-looking hairline.
3. Always have your wig cut once it’s on your head—even if you love the style. All wigs have too much hair (especially at the temples) and need to be cut back to fit your individual face shape. (If you have a synthetic hair wig, be sure the stylist who cuts or trims it knows how to cut synthetic hair; special shears must be used.)
A good place to start: Go to wigs.com to browse different styles from dozens of manufacturers. Whitehurst recommends wigs from Jon Renau, Henry Margu, and Aspen. To keep costs down, check to see if your health insurance covers a “cranial prosthesis”; your doctor can write you a prescription. And some local American Cancer Society offices have wig banks that offer free wigs for women undergoing chemotherapy. Go to cancer.org and click on Find Resources in Your Area to see if there’s one near you.