Can You Use Regular Shampoo and Conditioner on a Wig?

Can You Use Regular Shampoo and Conditioner on a Wig?

December 15, 2021

There’s no question wigs are here to stay – people wear them to protect their real hair through fashion trends, as well as to keep looking good through medical problems that result in hair loss. Similar to hair growing from your scalp, wigs need regular cleaning to stay in good shape and last. Generally speaking, as you clean your wig, you’ll have to forgo “regular” hair care products and buy cleansers and conditioners made especially for wigs.

Your Hair Versus a Wig

When you have real hair growing from your head, oil from your scalp (and to some degree, your face) gets on the strands. This isn’t all bad, because the oil smooths the outermost layer or cuticle of the hair. This makes the strands look shinier and makes it easier for the hair to regulate its moisture content, minimizing breakage. When you wear a wig, however, the natural oils from your scalp don’t get on the wig as much.

Accommodating Less Oil

Regardless of whether your wig is made from synthetic fibers or real hair, you should not use regular hair care products for cleaning the wig. Regular shampoos are designed to cut through more oil than you’d find on a standard wig, so using regular shampoos can dry out the strands or fibers severely and cause them to break. Traditional conditioners usually have more oils than a wig needs to stay flexible and shiny. They tend to build up on wigs and make a sticky, gooey mess. This is especially true for synthetic wigs, because synthetic fibers often have a fairly flat, non-absorbent texture compared to real hair. Some ingredients in traditional products also can deteriorate synthetic fibers, so even if they don’t cause buildup, they can shorten the life of the wig.

What to Use

Wigmakers recommend light wig shampoos and conditioners for hairpieces. These products are usually made from substances such as silicone instead of oil and have much gentler surfactants (detergents). Wig shampoos and conditioners will not weigh down the strands of the hairpiece or make it look dull and lifeless. A little baking soda added to the wash water minimizes odors.

How Often to Use Wig Conditioners and Shampoos

Wigs do not collect as much oil as hair that grows from the scalp, so they usually don’t need to be washed as often. Wigmakers advise washing wigs as little as possible to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. For most people, a wash and condition every 12 to 24 wearings is okay, depending on the environment in which wearing occurs.