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This Is The Way To Properly Care For Your Hair While Rockin' A Wig

Here's how to keep your natural hair as fly as your wig is.

Hair

One day, while peeking into the social media world to see what was going on, I was tickled when I saw a sistah post a brief exchange between her and her cat.

After I chuckled, it crossed my mind that while a lot of us do indeed rock wigs, we hadn't done an article on how to care for our natural hair while wearing one. Because whether you wear a wig like an accessory to your outfit, to grow your own hair out, or for any other reason, those fly looks are going to work against you if you're not making sure that your hair and scalp are handled with extreme care while you've got them on.

Now let me just give a heads up that, if you are a true wig connoisseur, then you already know that a topic like this really does deserve its own series. So, please just look at this as a CliffsNotes version; something that can, at least make you feel sure that, whenever you put a wig on, you can be confident that your hair is doing just fine until you take it back off again. And with that being said, let's get into the 10 tips that I've got, shall we?

Choose a Quality Wig

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Before even getting how to take care of your natural hair, it's important that you put a quality wig on top of your head to begin with. As far as human hair wigs go, they do tend to look extremely natural however, they can also run you a few hundred dollars (at least). If money is tight, there are some synthetic ones that are much cheaper and are pretty impressive on the appearance tip too. If you opt for a monofilament wig, they really do look like the hair from your wig is literally growing from your scalp while a hand-tied is less dense and also look more natural than machine-wefted or stitched wigs. Just make sure to keep in mind that the less money you spend on a synthetic wig, the less likely you'll be able to use heat styling tools (because they will melt the hair). Also, please avoid wigs that have that crescent moon type of hairline; the more natural the hairline the better.

If you opt to go to an actual beauty supply store, the customer service agents there should be able to assist you with finding a wig that best fits your hair and personal style. But if you'd prefer to order a wig online, there are plenty of naturalista pros out in YouTube world who can totally help you out. Some videos worth checking out are located here, here, here, here and here.

(Oh, and if you're looking for some real-looking affordable wigs, check out these videos here, here and here.)

Wash Your Hair and Scalp Regularly

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What if you had a hat on, all day, every day, for days or weeks on end? Wouldn't that make you want to wash your hair on a consistent basis? This is the mindset you need to have when it comes to how to care for your hair and scalp when you're constantly wearing a wig. Because it's natural for your scalp to sweat when you're wearing a wig, not only can that lead to clogged hair follicles, but the dampness can also lead to your hair and wig not smelling very great. Plus, bacteria can start to form too. This is why, words cannot express enough, that it's super important to shampoo your hair and scalp, no less than every 10-14 days.

Also, while we're here, what's the point in keeping your hair and scalp clean if your wig is gonna be nasty? Isn't that a lot like putting dirty underwear on a clean body? Exactly. So, when it comes to how often your wig needs to be washed, every 30 wears or 4-6 weeks is a pretty steadfast rule.

You can wash a human hair wig with regular shampoo but a synthetic one? Eh. Either go with a synthetic shampoo or even a fabric softener like Downy. For tips on how to properly wash your wig, check out this video here.

Super Deep Condition Your Tresses

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When I decided to get serious about length retention, it wasn't until I applied this particular tip that I started to make some real progress. So technically, this is a step that you should apply to your hair, no matter what. But when it comes to wig-wearing, you are going to REGRET IT (and yes, I am yelling that!) if you put yours on without deep conditioning your tresses first. Deep conditioning does everything from moisturize your hair and add some much-needed elasticity to it to smooth your cuticles and reduce your chances of getting split ends.

So, before you put your wig on, shampoo your hair, apply a deep conditioner, let it sit for no less than 30 minutes (a few hours is even better) and then rinse, dry and braid your hair before putting your wig on. It's a great way to keep extra moisture in your hair until your next wash day (which again, should be no less than 10 days later).

Oil Your Cornrows

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If you want your wig to lay down as flat as possible and your hair is past the TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) stage, it's best that you put it into cornrows. Not only will that help your wig to fit really closely to your scalp, but it's also a great way to protect your ends too. Just make sure that before you braid your hair that you apply a carrier oil like avocado, sweet almond, grapeseed, coconut or jojoba to your hair to keep your braids extra protected and your scalp well moisturized. Also, you might want to apply a little bit onto your braids, every time you take off your wig as well. In fact, if you want to keep your natural hair and your wig smelling nice, you can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your carrier oil of choice. Lavender, orange and jasmine oil all smell amazing.

"Baby" Your Hairline

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There are many people who end up with bald edges because they skipped this point. There's no way around the fact that your edges (and nape) are probably the most fragile parts of your hair. And when you've got a wig on, the pressure from the wig can start to weigh down on your edge's follicles, potentially causing irreversible damage. That's why it's best to pull out some of your "baby hairs" before putting your wig on. Not only that, but make sure to baby your hairline too by gently massaging them with Jamaican black castor oil (which is loaded with nutrients), not using alcohol-based edge control gel (that can dry your edges and nape out) and making sure that your old toothbrush is wet before applying product to it or brushing your edges down; otherwise, the roughness of the brush can wreak havoc on your baby hairs too. By the way, if you're looking for a good edge control, one that I enjoy is by Arcani Coil Care. It's a sistah-owned company and the product is long-lasting.

Watch the Straps and the Combs

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Two of the most underrated reasons why natural hair ends up being damaged, especially around the nape and edges, once we take our wigs off, is we don't adjust our wig straps or pay attention to how our combs fit on our head. While your wig straps need to be secure, make sure they aren't so tight that they cause friction on the most fragile parts of your hair (your hairline). As far as your wig combs go, make sure they have rounded ends and that you place them into your hair gently. It's also important to not put them exactly in the same place every time (that can result in breakage and, eventually balding). Oh, and it's a good idea to massage the areas where your straps and combs were when you take your wig off. It will bring blood to your scalp and nourish your hair follicles, so that those vulnerable areas won't cause your hair to become extremely vulnerable and damaged.

Take Your Wig Cap Off at Night

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Whether or not you go with a wig cap that you choose yourself, you cut up an old pair of stockings or you opt to use the wig cap that came with your wig installation (because more and more wig companies are including those), it's imperative that you take off your wig cap every night. Remember that the reason why you wear them at all is so 1) your natural hair can get as flat as possible; 2) your natural hair can be protected from the potential snagging that could come from your wig and 3) so your wig looks as natural as it possibly can (which is why it's a good idea to go with a wig cap that is nude rather than black).

Sleeping with a wig cap on keeps your scalp from getting an opportunity to breathe and that is another way for bacteria to form and for our hair follicles to weaken over time.

Detox Your Scalp Once a Month

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Earlier this year, I wrote an article for the site entitled, "Treat Your Scalp To A Little Bit Of Detoxing This Weekend". The reason why it's so important to detox your scalp is because it removes build-up and it can also rebalance the pH level of your scalp too. Your scalp is really going to need this if you're someone who wears a wig on a consistent basis, so make sure that a thorough scalp detox is a part of your monthly hair care routine.

Take Breaks

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Too much of a good thing can easily turn into a bad thing when there is no balance and moderation. Wigs aren't exempt from this fact. So, definitely make sure to take a break from your wigs from time to time. If you wear the kind that you can take off every day, consider going a weekend without one. If you opt for the kind that you can keep on for 4-6 weeks easily, give your natural hair at least a couple of weeks before installing a new one. Air, Vitamin D (from the sun) and the lack of stress and pressure that can come from wigs is necessary if you want your hair to be healthy and to thrive.

If It's a Lace Front...

Wash the Wig Right When You Take It Out of the Package

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To tell you the truth, this particular tip should apply to any wig that you buy. The reason why you should wash your wig(s) before applying it/them is because you have no idea who handled the wig before you got it. Plus, not all wigs are packaged equally, and it would suck if there was dirt, debris or…whatever in the wig; especially since you probably plan on wearing your wig for at least a couple of weeks at a time.

As far as how to properly wash a lace front, put a mild shampoo (remember that it needs to be synthetic or some type of fabric softener if it's made out of synthetic hair) into your sink or a basin of water. Put the wig into the water and allow it to soak for about 10 minutes. Use your hands to gently massage the wig (do not use a comb or brush). Then rinse the wig in lukewarm water, lightly dry it with a T-shirt and then apply a spray that's made of half distilled water and half hair conditioner. Let that sit for about five minutes and thoroughly rinse it again with lukewarm water. Use a T-shirt to gently wring the excess water from your wig and allow your wig to air dry on a wig stand with the weft of the wig exposed to the air. Once your wig is completely dry, you can then gently comb or use a wig brush.

Use a Good Adhesive Brand

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A bad lace front adhesive can be the absolute devil when it comes to damaging your natural hair. It's kind of a science class, trying to figure out which brand is best (especially if you're looking for a brand that is gentle on your hair but is also super long-lasting at the same time), but Oprah's site did an article on the best wig glues for lace fronts (you can check it out here) and this is another topic where the YouTube queens can definitely hold you do. Check out this video, this video and this video from some cool recommendations.

Give Lace Fronts No More Than 5-6 Weeks

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I'll be the first one to say that some of these lace front wigs out here are absolutely mind-blowing when it comes to how real they look! But no matter how close to the real thing they might appear to be or how securely you're able to install yours, even the best of the best have an expiration date in the sense of how long you should wear them before it's time to take them off and take a break.

The standard? Somewhere around 5-6 weeks is when you need to remove it so that you can do all of the things that I just shared to your own hair and so that you can properly clean and condition your lace front too.

Again, while there is a lot more info that can be shared on wigs and wig maintenance, if you apply these suggestions, you can feel pretty confident that your own hair will thrive while you're out here being a baddie in your wig. And that truly is the best of both worlds when it comes to hairstyles—ain't it?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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