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The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Human Hair Wig

Hair loss can be a difficult experience. Whether it’s temporary hair loss due to chemotherapy, or a longer-term condition like alopecia areata, it’s normal to feel upset, anxious, or even embarrassed by your hair loss. One study found that 74% of those with alopecia areata also have mental health issues like anxiety and depression [1].

When you feel low due to hair loss, it’s important to find ways that make you feel a little more like your old self. That’s where human hair wigs come in.

Lottie Rennie post chemotherapy and wearing a wig
Lottie Rennie following chemotherapy treatment (left) and wearing a wig (right).

Wigs have been shown to have a positive psychological impact on those with hair loss [2]. Wearing a human hair wig can help you start to accept your hair loss, while reducing some of the negativity associated with losing your hair. But if you haven’t worn a wig before, it can be tricky to know where to start.

In this ultimate guide to human hair wigs, you’ll learn:

  • Whether a human hair wig is the right choice for you.
  • The difference between human and synthetic hair wigs.
  • All about wig cap construction.
  • How to choose the right human hair wig for you.
Table of Contents

Is it the right time to get a wig?

It’s normal to feel conflicted about getting a wig. It may feel like you’re giving up on your hair loss improving, or make you feel self-conscious in case people notice.

But for many people, wearing a wig is a significant step in accepting their hair loss and feeling more confident in their day-to-day lives. Human hair wigs in particular can look very natural, so most people won’t realise you’re wearing one.

“Looking in the mirror for the first time wearing a wig, I felt glamorous, confident and my self-esteem soared through the roof. Without it, I don’t know where else I would have got the strength from [4].”

Wigs can also give you a chance to experiment with different hairstyles that might not have been possible with your natural hair. But there are other hair loss treatment options that may be preferable, depending on the cause of your hair loss.

The only way to tell if now is the right time for you to get a wig is to do some research, try wearing a wig for a while, and see how you feel. Here, find out how to get the right wig to make you feel your best.

Researching human hair wigs: where to start?

Before you start your research, set a goal: how do you want your wig to make you feel?

Many people seek a wig that makes them feel more confident and boosts their self-esteem. But setting your own specific goal will help you find the right wig from the off.

If you’re getting a wig on the NHS, or using insurance to pay for your wig, see if there are any stipulations or limitations to the type of wig you can get. Then you can start exploring the huge variety of wigs out there.

Here’s what you need to consider when looking for a wig:

  • Type — Human hair wigs vs synthetic hair wigs.
  • Comfort — Fabric and your local climate can affect wig comfort.
  • Style — Think about the cut and colour you want to try.
  • Brand — Choose a trustworthy retailer to provide your wig.
  • Cost — Consider wig prices, especially if you’re not getting a wig on the NHS.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at each of these factors to find your ideal wig.

Human hair wigs vs. synthetic wigs: what’s the difference?

Human hair wigs are made from — you guessed it — real human hair. Hair donation charities collect hair from volunteers, who can donate hair that’s at least seven inches in length.

Synthetic hair wigs, meanwhile, are made from fibres designed to look like human hair. These are usually made from acrylic, nylon, or another type of plastic. Because of this, they tend to feel less natural and move differently to human hair wigs.

the difference between synthetic and normal hair
Synthetic hair vs human hair wig

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of human hair and synthetic wigs [5]:

PropertiesHuman hair wigs

Synthetic hair wigs

ColourNatural hair shadesNatural and colourful shades
Styling optionsSame styling options as natural hairAvoid heat and product styling to prolong wig lifespan
Lifespan1+ years4-6 months
Wig careRegular washing, moisturising and conditioning are neededWash in cold water only with specific products designed for synthetic wigs
CostMore expensive than synthetic wigsCheaper than human hair wigs

Pros and cons of human hair wigs

In general, human hair wigs are more sought after than synthetic wigs, as they feel and look more like natural hair. But this also makes them more expensive.

Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of human hair wigs:


  • Hair falls naturally around the face and shoulders.
  • You have more styling options, including using hairspray, mousse, and heat styling tools.
  • Last more than a year (with good care and upkeep).
  • Human hair wigs are customisable, so you can cut and even colour them.
  • Less likely to fade in the sun than synthetic wigs.


  • Human hair wigs are more expensive than synthetic wigs.
  • You’ll need to style your wig on a daily basis, which can be a challenge if you feel tired or unwell due to chemotherapy or other treatments.
  • Hair is prone to become dry and brittle without the right care, so you’ll need to wash, condition, and moisturise your wig regularly.

Which type of wig looks most realistic?

Quality synthetic wigs can look like the real thing. But in general, you’re more likely to get natural-looking results with a human hair wig than with a synthetic wig.

human hair wig vs synthetic hair wig
Human hair wig (left) vs synthetic wig (right).

Human hair wigs are often more expensive, but if you’re worried about your hair looking natural, it can be a worthwhile investment in your self-confidence.

Wig cap construction 101

Now you know whether a human hair or synthetic wig is right for you, let’s move on to cap construction.

Beneath the hair, each wig is fitted with a cap. The cap is designed to fit securely over your head, keeping the wig in place. It’s made up of several panels:

informational graphic showing the parts of the wig cap
  1. Front — The panel that lies on your frontal hairline.
  2. Top — Lies on top of your scalp over your parting.
  3. Back — Covers the crown and back of your head.
  4. Stretch panels — Create a secure but comfortable fit.
  5. Adjustable tabs — Enable you to tighten or loosen the wig as needed.

When thinking about cap material, the front, top, and back are the most important sections. Each panel can be made from a different material to accommodate different needs.

Find out more about the different types of cap panel construction below.

Front of wig cap construction

  • Basic cap — The most affordable option, a basic front is a piece of material that’s hidden by the hair. It’s sometimes used for wigs with fringes.
  • Lace front — A translucent strip of lace across the hairline blends in with your skin tone. Hair is tied to mimic a real hairline, though there can be some variation depending on the quality of the wig.

Top of wig cap construction

  • Monofilament/skin top — A mesh-type material that shows the skin through the fabric, creating a natural-looking parting.
  • Lace top — Hair strands are attached to the lace, leaving knots at the top of the wig which add volume but may be more visible.
  • French top — Lace and monofilament are both used to create volume while hiding the knots of hair, offering the most natural finish. The most expensive type of cap top.

Back of wig cap construction

  • Hand-tied — Hair strands are knotted to the cap base individually, allowing the hair to move in the most natural way possible. 100% hand-tied wigs are usually much more expensive, but provide the most comfort and versatility for hair styling.
  • Machine-wefted — Hair strands are sewn onto tracks, which are then attached to the wig cap itself. This extra material may make the wig feel heavier and limit the hairstyles you can wear, but also provides extra security.

What to consider when choosing your wig cap

Hand-tied lace front skin top wig caps will give you the most natural-looking wig. But these are often more expensive, so it’s important to weigh up the type of wig you actually need.

Here are five factors to consider when choosing your wig cap:

  • Climate — If you live in a hot climate, breathability is important. Basic caps offer the most breathability, while machine-wefted French top caps offer more warmth.
  • Parting visibility — Wigs with a mesh top allow your parting to show through. Other types can use a technique called permateasing to camouflage the scalp and add volume.
  • Price — Higher quality wigs made with more expensive materials or time-consuming techniques (such as hand-tying) tend to cost more.
  • Styling — If you plan to style your wig in different ways, a hand-tied cap will give you more options than a machine-wefted cap.

Measuring your wig size

If you’ve never worn a wig before, it’s a good idea to go to a reputable wig retailer for a fitting. This will ensure you get a secure, comfortable wig you love.

If you can’t get to a store for a fitting, watch this video to find out how to measure your head for a wig:

Choosing your wig style

Now on to the fun bit. Choosing your preferred wig style determines how your hair will actually look, whether you want to stick to your pre-hair loss style or experiment with a new look.

Wigs are available in lots of shades and styles. Here’s what to consider when selecting your wig style.

Finding a wig for your face shape

If you’re looking for a style you haven’t tried before, you might want to choose a wig that complements the shape of your face.

For example, those with round or square faces may want a long wig that creates length. If your face is oval or rectangular, consider a fringe or a chin-skimming bob to create the illusion of width.

celebrity examples of face shapes

Unlike most synthetic wigs, human hair wigs can be cut, coloured, and customised to suit your styling preferences. So you always have the option of altering your wig to suit your face shape.

Wig length

Wig lengths vary depending on the texture of the hair. Curly, wavy, and straight hair that are the same length in inches will appear to be different lengths, due to hair coiling:

wig lengths based on hair types

Here’s an approximate guide to wig lengths:

Wig length (inches)Length on the body
8-10”Ears to chin
10-12”Chin to shoulder
12-14”Shoulder to upper back
14-16”Bra strap to shoulder blades
16-18”Shoulder blades to mid back
20-24”Mid back to waist
24-28”Waist to lower back
28”+Lower back

Wig style

Human hair wigs can be styled according to your preference. You can cut, colour, straighten, and curl your wig, giving you a new look every day.

That said, you can also buy human hair wigs in a variety of pre-cut styles and colours. If you want to experiment, it’s a good idea to visit a wig shop where you can try on different styles.

Men can also get wigs. Semi-permanent wigs are known as hair systems for men, and they’re an increasingly popular way to deal with male pattern baldness.

Wig colour

Human hair wigs are mostly available in natural hair colours, which will give you the most realistic looking hair. Colour can be difficult to determine online, so looking at wigs in-store is a good way to get the closest match to the colour you want.

For bold or bright hues, you may need to dye your human hair wig, or consider a synthetic hair wig.

Will people notice if I wear a wig?

It depends on the type of wig you choose. If you select a quality human hair wig in a natural colour, it’s unlikely most people will be able to tell you’re wearing a wig.

If anyone does notice your wig, it’s likely to be because:

  • You’re not moving naturally — Ill-fitting wigs may not feel secure, causing you to keep your head and neck more rigid than usual.
  • The wig fibres look unnatural — Bright wig colours and low-quality synthetic fibres can create a less natural look.
  • You change your wig often — Wearing multiple wigs can give the game away, especially if they’re drastically different styles, colours, or cuts.

Where to buy your wig: finding the right wig brand

Some wig companies have a better reputation than others. And because wigs are used for a variety of purposes, there are lots of different price points and wig qualities out there. So it’s important to find a trustworthy wig brand that offers the quality you deserve.

Here are some of the best wig retailers in the UK:

My Beautiful Wigs

  • Trustpilot score: 4.9* (139 reviews)
  • Physical or online store: Both
  • Wig types: Human and synthetic hair
  • Price for human hair wigs: £1,000-£4,500
  • Website:
  • Wig examples:
Examples of wigs from My Beautiful Wigs

Wigs Boutique

Trustpilot score: 4.9* (129 reviews)
Physical or online store: Both
Wig types: Human and synthetic hair
Price for human hair wigs: £800-£1,500
Wig examples:

Examples of wigs from Wigs Boutique

Eternal Wigs

Trustpilot score: 4.4* (59 reviews)
Physical or online store: Both
Wig types: Human and synthetic hair
Price for human hair wigs: £250-£1,000
Wig examples:

The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Human Hair Wig, Wimpole Clinic

Valentine Wigs UK

Trustpilot score: 4.4* (54 reviews)
Physical or online store: Online
Wig types: Human and synthetic hair
Price for human hair wigs: £600-£4,000
Wig examples:

example of wigs from Valentine wigs

Is it better to buy a wig at a shop or online?

If this is your first time buying a wig, it’s usually best to try some wigs in-store before you buy. This will help you find the best fit and style for you. You can also benefit from tailored consultant advice and a professional wig fitting service.

However, you may get a better price online. So if cost is a factor, consider shopping around for your wig.

How much should you pay for a human hair wig?

Human hair wigs are more expensive than synthetic wigs. Many human hair wigs cost £1,000 to £4,000, depending on the amount of hair used, the hair origin, and the techniques used to create the wig. High-quality and longer wigs tend to cost more than lower-quality or pixie-cut wigs.

Getting a wig on the NHS

The NHS offers financial support to buy a wig if you meet certain criteria. As of October 2023, NHS wig support costs are set at:

  • Partial human hair wig – £207.00
  • Full bespoke human hair wig – £302.70

You may be eligible for support to cover your wig costs if you’re under 16, under 19, and in full-time education, or receiving income support. Speak to your doctor about whether you’re eligible, and which wigs are available to you.

If you can’t get a wig on the NHS, private health insurance may help you pay for it.

Top tips for getting a wig you love

At the Wimpole Clinic, we help thousands of patients deal with hair loss every year. So here are our top tips for finding a wig that makes you feel confident and comfortable.

  • Try before you buy. If possible, head to a reputable wig shop near you to try on a variety of styles and colours before you buy. Think about how you feel when you try on each wig.
  • Get your wig cap fitted. Speak to a consultant to get a professional fitting to ensure your wig feels comfortable and secure.
  • Move around. Take a walk, shake your head, and tuck your hair behind your ears to see how your wig moves.
  • Shop around. Get the best quality wig — and the best prices — by checking out different wig brands and retailers.
  • Don’t rush the process. Try not to opt for a substandard wig out of desperation or impatience. You’ll find the right one — so take your time and experiment with as many different brands and styles as you need to find the right wig.
  • Speak to your doctor. If you’ve already consulted with your GP or a trichologist about your hair loss, ask for recommendations or personalised tips on choosing or finding a wig.

Alternatives to wearing a wig

Wearing a wig is a great short-term solution for hiding hair thinning and alopecia. However, some people prefer to opt for a more permanent fix, especially if your hair loss is irreversible.

Female pattern hair loss and frontal fibrosing alopecia can both cause permanent hair loss in women. So you may prefer to seek a hair loss solution that treats rather than hides your condition. Here are some of the most popular alternative hair loss treatments for women:

  • MinoxidilMinoxidil 2% is a topical solution formulated for female hair loss patients to minimise unwanted side effects and maximise regrowth in the desired areas.
  • Low-level laser therapy — A painless, non-invasive alternative hair loss treatment that concentrates beams of light on the scalp to stimulate follicle cell growth.
  • Hair transplant — FUE and FUT surgery offer the most permanent and effective hair restoration results of all treatments.

Is a wig right for you?

Before deciding whether a wig or another treatment is best for you, it’s essential to get a hair loss diagnosis. Women’s hair loss can have complex underlying causes, so hair loss blood tests and other assessments are often needed to diagnose your condition.

At the Wimpole Clinic, we work with women of all ages to diagnose and treat their hair loss. Whether you want advice on hiding your hair loss or treating your symptoms, our patient advisors can help. Book your consultation with our friendly, non-judgmental team to get started.

The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Human Hair Wig, Wimpole Clinic

The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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