You’re getting ready for a night on the town, and that one chunk of hair just won’t obey the flat-iron tonight. You know the one—that frustrating patch of too-fine, often frizzy, right-by-the-side-of-my-face-sticking-out-like-a-satellite strand that’s most noticeable when not behaving—which feels like every day lately. Wouldn’t it be great, you think, if I could have my trusty stylist—the only one who seems to be able to solve the magic hair crisis with any reliability—in your home, at your beck and call, right now!? As you scramble for clutch, lipstick, car keys, babysitter fare, you jot a hasty note to call that stylist tomorrow for a new hair cut—and maybe a color while you’re at it. You deserve it; fighting with this hair requires some pampering.
While this scenario is all well and good—and sometimes required—for those graced with endlessly deep pockets, a full cut/color/style is something that can’t be done on a whim, and often requires budgeting and at least six weeks to “see through” before a change is acceptable. But wouldn’t it be great if getting that perfect do were as easy some nights as choosing the perfect pair of shoes? Increasingly, it IS that easy. Whether for everyday use or a special occasion or for a night on the town with the girls, high-end wigs are the solution being tossed around and tried on.
“You always want to look your best. You want to look different for a party or just fashion fun,” says John Jay Dupay, owner of Christopher J Salon (2700 Annapolis Circle N.; 763.404.8606). “[Wigs] are easy for travel or as a way to see yourself in a certain look.”
Once predictably mousy brown or platinum blond, straight or curly with very little in between, wigs today come in every possible shape, style, cut, color and head size. Custom wigs are surprisingly affordable, too, given they last for years with minimal care (a biweekly rinse in a light shampoo solution, rolling in a towel before air-drying, and storage on a wig head should do it), and depending on your needs, range from $250 to $1,000 retail. Christopher J Salon carries several brands, including Raquel Welch, which offer both synthetic—ideal for occasional use for their always-perfect styling and minimal upkeep—and real-hair—think curl-able, style-able, changeable everyday styles—varieties.
Wigs are a necessary reality for many fighting cancer or those who have hair deficiencies like alopecia. For these individuals, the increased accessibility of good-looking wigs is truly a life-changer. Obtaining your custom wig is a simple process. “I’d definitely recommend going to a stylist who can fit it correctly and give some insight as to what color/style is best for your face shape and skin tone,” stylist Lori McCoy says. A one-time 30-minute appointment to try on wigs, measure your cranium circumference, and consider cuts (when was the last time your long tresses were tousled into a bob, or you considered bangs?) and colors is really all it takes, and costs the same as a typical cut/style at Christopher J and other local salons. (For those fighting cancer or another illness, the consult fee is often waived.) Once the wigs arrive, a final consult is optional, or customers can just pick it up at the store. Wearing the wigs is equally easy: McCoy recommends a mesh wig cap liner to trap any natural hair, and then the wig slips on and hugs the head naturally. “Many wigs have a lace front edge, a sort of out-braiding of the hair, which allows you to wear it up if needed without seeing the edge/seam,” stylist Tabitha Fredrichs says.
The Look: Emily
Original hair color: Medium brown
Makeup (all gloMinerals products): Matte foundation, “sun-kissed” bronzer, powder, papaya and “sweet” blush blend, lip liner with pink blossom gloss, a little brown shadow liner underneath smoky-eye base and smoky-eye crease, black pencil eye liner, and “show-off beauty addicts” mascara on false lashes
Why the makeup? “We are trying to be a bit more natural with her and still have her eyes pop,” makeup artist Kristine Fiereck says. “I liked the light, pale stuff with the color of her wig, so we went with more neutral and natural colors.”
Which wig? “Enigma”: A long, straight layered wig with bangs, colored light brown with blond highlights
Why the wig? The darker base still matches Emily’s skin tone, but switches things up with the highlights and the bangs.
Done with the wig: bobby pins easily tie up a messy side up-sweep, just like real hair.
What does Emily think? “I look weird. I don’t look like myself,” she says. “Yet I feel kind of glamorous, kind of like a super model.”
Done with the wig: Straight hanging, the wig can be teased to add some volume.
What does it feel like? “A little warm, but other than that, not bad,” Emily quips.
The Look: Sara
Original hair color: Medium-cool blond
Makeup (all gloMinerals products): Matte foundation, “sun-kissed” bronzer, papaya blush, “beloved” liquid lip, golden “twinkle” eye shadow with teal blue shadow and white shadow to help blend, ebony cream eye liner, and “show-off beauty addicts” mascara on false lashes
Why the makeup? “We really wanted to make her eyes pop, because she has those gorgeous blue eyes,” makeup artist Kristine Fiereck says.
Which wig? “Glaze fire”: An asymmetrical bob in red
Why the wig? The complete opposite direction of what Sara is naturally—just because you’re born with one hair color doesn’t mean you can’t go with another.
Done with the wig: Smooth or tousled, the asymmetrical-ness of this wig shows off itself.
What does Sara think? “You feel a little more playful; it’s like a mini escape or vacation,” she says.
What does it feel like? “I feel different, like a different person,” Sara says.
Done with the wig: Tucking one or both sides behind the ear create a new level of elegance.
What does it feel like? “It feels like an out-of-body experience, which isn’t a bad thing,” Sara says. “It just didn’t feel like me, which could be really fun. It was weird to see my coworkers’ reactions, and they had to do a double-take, even though they see me all the time.”
The Look: Ellen
Original hair color: Light blond
Makeup (all gloMinerals products): matte foundation, sun-kissed bronzer, powder, combination of “spice berry” and “papaya” blush, “regal ruby” lip crayon, smoky-eye base shadow with “bamboo” and “eggplant” shadows, ebony cream liner, and “show-off beauty addicts” mascara on false lashes
Why the makeup? “Ellen’s wig was darker hair, so we went with darker colors to bring out her features a little more,” makeup artist Kristine Fiereck says. “It’s a great night-out look.”
Which wig? A layered dark brown with red highlights.
Why the wig? The opposite of Ellen’s usual blond, the longer hair can still work with Ellen’s naturally long hair underneath.
Done with the wig: Tousled waves created with the addition of a little hair spray—OK on both synthetics and real-hair wigs (but don’t add heat to synthetics!)
What does Ellen think? “Long hair makes you feel more feminine, I think,” she says. “You have this perception of what you look like, and it gives you this other insight that you can look different.”
Done with the wig: Simply brushed to the side and bobby-pinned, then sprayed for a great night-time look
What does Ellen think? “I need to go darker!”
Meet the Artists
Artist for: Sara
Specialties: Cuts, specializing in cutting for straight, curly/wavy/textured hair
In industry for: 27 years
At Christopher J: 5 years
Words of wisdom: “I think that people shouldn’t get hung up on a particular style of the season; they need to understand that they should accent their features and their skin tone.”
Must-have salon tool: Neuma hairspray (a natural organic brand available at Christopher J)
Common wig misconception: “I think some people hear the word ‘wig,’ and it brings them right back to the ’70s wigs, which were way too much hair, big and bouffanty, and looked really unrealistic.”
Artist for: Ellen
Specialties: Color and cutting
In industry: 25 years
At Christopher J: 4 years
Words of wisdom: “Keep the passion in your life, and you’ll always be happy. I think if you’re happy in your personal life, it comes out in your outer look.”
Must-have salon tool: A paddle brush and the Kenra hot spray (excellent for any sort of heat styling, it helps keep the curl or hot ironing longer through humidity)
Common wig misconception: “That it’s only for people that might be going through an illness or disease—that it can’t be just for a fun night out, or if you’re traveling to Vegas and want a different look. Wigs are acceptable again!”
Artist for: Emily
Specialties: Fine-hair cuts and color
In industry: 18 years
At Christopher J: 4 years
Words of wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it’s something little that a stylist suggests.”
Must-have salon tool: A good dry shampoo (for finer hair); it gives texture without weighing down the hair and often works better than hairspray.
Common wig misconception: “That they look unrealistic. Even the clip-in bangs are amazing for how realistic they look, and they’re really fun.”
Artist for: All
Specialties: Bridal and more natural makeups
In industry: 8 years
At Christopher J: 2 years
Words of wisdom: “A little goes a long way.”
Must-have salon tool: Bronzers and blush