We've discussed the basics about wigs and hairpieces, and we've compared the pros and cons of
synthetic hair versus natural hair. Now, we'll take a look at the factors that determine quality and cost of wigs. The bottom line
(as it usually is) is that you get what you pay for.
The most expensive wigs available are those that are made using real human hair. The cost of these is
dependent on the ethnic origin of the hair, and whether or not the hair has been treated with chemicals (colored or permed) previously. Here's
a general breakdown of natural hair wigs:
European Hair is considered top of the line because of its relative rarity, and the ability to have natural-looking color in a
variety of shades. Virgin hair of European origin will be the most costly, with chemically treated hair as a close second.
Hair from India and Asia are next in cost. These two regions provide most of the human hair that is commercially available. The
hair tends to be universally dark (black or near black) with some gray blends, and must be processed and treated to achieve other colors. Hair
from India is usually available in lengths from 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) and is naturally wavy. Hair from Asia is naturally straight and
can be found in lengths from 12 to 28 inches (30 to 70 cm).
Human Hair Mixed with Animal Hair is next. The human hair can be blended with lengths of hair from animals such as angora,
horses, yak or sheep. This offers a less expensive natural hair wig. Yak hair is particularly useful in making fantasy wigs. The hair from
yaks is harvested from the belly and is the purest of whites, making it ideal for fantasy colors. Such mixed hair wigs are often used in
theatrical and fashion shows.
Animal Hair is last, as wigs made from 100% animal hair are the cheapest of the natural hair wigs available. These make
relatively inexpensive wigs that are good as "fun wigs".
Other factors affecting the cost of natural hair wigs are:
Quality of the hair being used - If the hair is has been graded according to strength,
elasticity, and porosity (and is rated high in these traits) the cost of the wig will be greater.
Is the Cuticle intact? - Wigs made from hair with the cuticle intact are more expensive. In
these cases, the hair has been "turned" meaning that the hairs are arranged so that the root ends are all in the same direction. This prevents
tangling and makes the wig more durable and easier to style.
Fallen Hair - If the wig is made primarily of hair that has been shed normally from the scalp
and harvested from brushes or combs, the hair will not be turned from root to end and will have had the cuticle removed to prevent tangles and
matting. Hair with the cuticle removed cannot be conditioned (so that it will cause matting) therefore fallen hair tends to be less expensive.
Has the Hair been Colored with Metallic Dyes? - Hair that has been colored with metallic
dyes, cannot be permed, or colored with peroxide-developed haircolors as this will destroy the hair's structure. This type of hair will be less expensive.
Synthetic Wigs range in price based on how realistic they are in look and feel. Some higher-quality
synthetic wigs have human hair blended in with them for a more natural look. As advances in chemistry progress, more realistic synthetic wigs
are developed. Expect to pay prices equivalent to mid-level quality human hair wigs for a high-quality synthetic wig.