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HOME » HAIR FREE » WIGS - A COMPLETE GUIDE

WIGS - A COMPLETE GUIDE

 

Wigs, hairpieces and alternative hair replacements. The great thing about wigs are that you can try them on, take advice and get organised so that you have an image that you feel happy with in advance of losing your hair. It really can be a great confidence booster to know that when and if you need it, you are already prepared. The terms used and technical jargon alone can be a challenge but don’t worry because we are here to help you navigate your way through all the options.

Wigs and hair replacements can open up a whole new world of style and image for you. So let us introduce you to hair options that are best suited to your situation.

This is a large section of information. So may we suggest that you make yourself a nice cuppa and take your time to either click directly onto the question or subject area of interest or read through the entire section at your leisure.


Welcome to our in-depth section on wigs and hair replacements

Please choose a category:


• Encouraging reasons to wear a wig
10 of the most common misunderstandings and fears about wigs and hairpieces
• Chemotherapy - Wigs and hair replacement options for chemotherapy wearers
• Hair Loss Professionals - Understanding what services are available
• Understanding types of wigs and hair replacement systems
• What is a full head wig?
• The difference between a synthetic and real hair
• Choosing the right colour for your wig
• Finding a good wig supplier
Visiting your local NHS wig supplier
• Budgeting and paying for a wig and who qualifies for a NHS funded wig?
• VAT exemption on wigs
Wig care, washing and styling
Wigs and naked flames

• Radiotherapy to the head area and looking good and coping with long term hair loss


 


Encouraging reasons to wear a wig


Let’s take a look at some of the positive reasons to wear a wig or hairpiece:

• Look good and feel better – There is nothing vain in caring about your appearance and style. Our hair is just one of the ways we express our individuality and image and for most people styling it is part of their daily routine. So when our image is altered by hair loss, a wig or hairpiece helps you to continue with a look that feels comfortable and familiar. Most people who wear one agree that when they look good it helps them to feel better.

• "New you" make over – Do blondes, brunettes or redheads have more fun? Now is your chance to be as daring as you wish. Whilst you can often replicate your normal hairstyle, you can also have fun with trying different looks and styles.

• Flexibility – You can have several different styles, customise them to suit your face shape, wear them with accessories, try them on in advance and decide when and where you wish to wear them.

• Confidence - Covering your head with a wig or hairpiece can be a great confidence booster and help you to feel less self-conscious about the change in your image.

• Extra time in bed – You can pop a wig onto a stand overnight and hey, presto it is there ready in the morning. Most synthetic wigs are easy to take care of, only need washing occasionally and are left to dry naturally, returning to their style with very little effort needed from you. No need to get up half an hour early to wash and style your hair!

• Take control – If you are upset by hair loss then wearing a wig or hairpiece helps you to take control of the situation. You decide what style, make, colour and texture wig you wish to wear. Wigs and hairpieces have advanced tremendously in the past few years and the choice available is bigger than ever.


10 of the most common misunderstandings and fears about wigs and hairpieces
We have put together these top 10 as they are the most asked questions...take a look:

1.“I heard that NHS wigs look false and are low quality”
This is not true because the NHS simply do not make wigs. They outsource this to various companies who supply to the NHS and other customers including professional salons, fashion industry, film and TV, occasional social wearers and medical need customers such as yourself. If you qualify for a prescription the NHS provide help towards the full or partial cost of wigs, usually in the form of a voucher prescription that is exchanged with a wig supplier.

The term “NHS wig” has earned itself a bad name, but I think this is because unfortunately you don’t hear about all of the fantastic looking wigs. You just hear about the not so good ones. Let me be clear, there are plenty of good suppliers and masses of choice. Once you know a little bit more about wig choices this will make a huge difference to achieving a stylish wig.

“I’m so glad that I now understand the NHS doesn’t actually make wigs. I wasn’t even going to use my voucher because I thought ‘I don’t want one of those cheap NHS wigs’! It’s these little snippets of information that make all the difference” Jean 55, teacher from Glasgow.

2.“Does a real hair wig always look more real?”
If I start by telling you that 90% of wigs that I recommend to cancer patients are synthetic and not real hair, then I guess that answers the question. When I first meet people they often say “I don’t mind what it costs, I want a real hair wig” and this is, because they think it will look more real. But the simple truth is that a good quality synthetic wig is often easier to manage, has a wider range available and is more cost effective. The most important thing about any wig is that it is customised to suit you and that you know how to wear it well.

“My wig was just £97.00 and is synthetic hair…it’s long and wavy and was cut to suit my face and my glasses. When it first came out of the box I didn’t see how it could possibly look real but then once I was shown how to add some product in, it looked fantastic” Margaret 49, nurse from Hertfordshire.

3.“Is it true that wigs make your head sweat?”
Our heads naturally sweat but it is something that we don’t always notice because the normally the air and our hair absorb it. But when you wear a wig, a bit like wearing a hat, the heat and sweat from your head is normally increased slightly and there is a simple way to help deal with this. You just wear a “wig cap” (which looks like the foot piece from of a pair or tights) under your wig and it will help absorb sweat and hold your wig in place.

“I didn’t realise that the wig cap would help absorb the sweat. I had thought it was something you used if your head itched, so when I found out it made a big difference” Tessa 39, Mum to four kids.

4.“How does a wig stay on your head – is it true that you have to tape a wig to your head or it will fall off?”
Wigs and hairpieces can be held in place with a tape commonly referred to as “Toupee tape” but the majority of wigs are held in place by small adjustable elasticised belt straps (a bit like a bra strap) that are inside the wig. These can easily be tightened to make the wig sit snugly and securely. The other way wigs or hairpieces can be held in place is with a thin glue, but because most cancer patients experience temporary hair loss, the type of wig most recommended will be secured with a belt strap. I would also recommend a wig cap, mentioned in the previous question, as that helps to hold a wig securely so that it does not move around on your head.

“It’s those little things that you forget once you leave the wig shop, like tightening the belts inside the wig to make it fit tightly. Those tips gave me the confidence to know that my wig would stay in place.” Bonnie 41, who happily drives around in her convertible with her wig on and a head scarf!

5.“Do you need to spend a lot of money to get a good wig?”
The majority of the wigs I recommend are under £150.00, and once customised they look fantastic. You do not need to spend a massive amount of money to get a good wig and as a cancer patient you will be exempt from paying VAT but must fill out a VAT exemption form when purchasing your wig. You should also consider other costs related to your wig such as products and accessories.

“My husband and I had agreed that we would find the money to get a wig that looked real. I couldn’t believe that the price covered the wig itself,  having it fitted and customised, the wig stand, products and brushes so that altogether it came to just under £250.00. I thought that was amazing, and that’s about what I would have spent on my hair in 6 months any way! It was a pleasant surprise as we had expected to pay around the thousand pound mark.” Lynn 67, grandmother to two girls

6.“Is it true that a hairdryer will melt a wig?”
The basic rule of thumb is that you should not use direct heat on a synthetic wig but can generally use direct heat on real hair wigs. On synthetic hair direct heat such as straightening irons, hot rollers, hotbrush, tongs and hairdryers will melt the hair. Sometimes if the guidelines allow, you can use a hairdryer on a low heat setting (or cool button) to waft air through a synthetic wig but unless you are absolutely sure it is ok, avoid this. Synthetic hair wigs can be washed, then left to dry naturally and will return to their styled state without the need for additional work on your part. A real hair wig will need the same amount of attention as your own natural hair so generally needs to be blow dried or set into a style and you can normally use most direct heated appliances on them. For all wig types, always check the manufacturer’s advice label about how to treat them.

“Yes that was me! I threw the advice label from my wig away. I decided to try and give my wig a new look and used my straightening irons on the fringe – needless to say they got stuck and melted the front! Well at least I can share that with you!” Elizabeth, 36, fashion clothes buyer, Leeds.

7.“Will a good wig last for ever?”
In my experience, many people are fine with just one wig for a period of up to a year, but if you are wearing a wig every day for six months or more, then most manufacturers advise that you may need two wigs. The reason for this is partly that when worn every day most wigs will become a bit saggy, a bit like a pair of bikini bottoms or swimming trunks that are regularly worn. Wigs can also become frizzy at the ends because they collect static, it’s called friction build-up.

So generally, most manufacturers recommend you have your wig checked after six months to see if it needs to be replaced. However, I have found many people especially those with shorter wigs are fine with just one for up to a year and some people keep their wigs for a lot longer.

“I had a real hair wig, and I had no idea that it would frizz up and it made the style look dry. I had to laugh to myself because even wigs get bad hair days!” Judith 37, from a little village called Aston.

8.“Can wearing a wig slow down the regrowth of new hair?”
There is no evidence to suggest that wearing a wig will prevent new hair from growing and some people wear them 24 hours a day, even in bed. Personally, I would suggest that you allow periods without your wig to allow air to circulate and you can do this at night with a cotton hat or cap on instead. It is sensible to take some time and care to ensure that your scalp remains healthy.

“When my hair grew back it was strange, because at first it came through really quickly, then it seemed to slow down a bit. I blamed it on my wig, but was relieved to find out it’s just normal that it takes a while. After nine months I had a short textured style and a few blonde highlights, and getting the colour back was great” . Sandra 59, who two years after recovery still keeps her hair short because she likes it!

9. “If my hair is long before I lose it, can I cut it into a pony tail and have a wig made?”
Generally speaking, the collection of human hair to be made into wigs is a very specialized area and there are currently only around 12 people in the UK who specialise in this. If your hair is more than shoulder length, long, in very good condition, and you have plenty of it, then you may like to ask if your hair could be made into a wig. But most of the time the answer will be ‘no’ and even if it is a ‘yes’ then it would take at least 10 weeks to make and would be very expensive.

“Sometimes it’s just good to know what can or can’t be done. I spent ages thinking about having my own hair made into a wig because a friend said she was sure that’s what people did! In the end I went for a really nice graduated bob style, nothing like my own hair at all but a bit of fun” Tina 41, PR, London.

10. “Will people be able to tell I am wearing a wig?”
If you chose a wig that is similar to your style prior to hair loss and learn how to wear it, many people have told me that no one ever knew they were wearing a wig. But naturally if you allow hair loss to be exposed, or go for a new style, then those people with whom you interact are likely to notice your new look. As over half a million wigs are sold every year in the UK, it is likely that someone you know must be wearing a wig and you have no idea! Whatever option you decide on, there are ways to distract from your hair loss and emphasize on other areas of your image and style.

“I’ve never thought of myself as a stylish man or a follower of fashion but losing my hair made me feel really self-conscious. I had a wig fitted that looked like my own hair, it is even grey, and not one of my colleagues knew that I was unwell or had any hair loss. After treatment my hair grew back and no one was any the wiser, this suited me and meant I could keep my life private.” Lionel, 62, legal firm office manager.


Chemotherpy - Wigs and hair replacement options for chemotherapy wearers

With a little care and time spent on selecting the right wig, it can be customised to look like your current style or you may opt for a complete new look and embrace the opportunity to have a whole new image.

When dealing with hair loss as a side effect to chemotherapy we always plan for the hair to grow back – as this really is normally the case. It’s true to say that your new hair may be a different texture and colour but expecting it to grow back is the right way to plan.

This means that when choosing a wig, you will need a "temporary” wig option (6 months to a year). In other words this is something that you are not going to wear long term. I know that this may not seem temporary to you as 6 months can feel like a long time. But it’s good to know this as it may define the type of wig you buy. For example some wigs are for long term wearers and are either very expensive or require complete baldness to be glued to (thus not suited to you). As we take you through the many options you will see that there really are some fantastic choices of wigs and something to suit everyone.


Hair Loss Professionals - Understanding what services are available

There are some truly talented and dedicated professionals waiting to offer you specialist hair loss services.

Until faced with dealing with hair loss many people have never visited a professional wig supplier or are unaware of professional hair loss services. From specialist hair extensions designed for hair loss to custom made wigs that you can swim in, there are some amazing products, services and ideas to help with hair loss.

It’s really important to understand what may be suitable for you at this time. For example some custom-made wigs take up to three months to make or a specialist volume hair extension system may need a commitment of both your time and finances.

For that reason, it’s important to find a professional who is experienced in offering services to people wishing to disguise hair loss.

Below is a list of hair loss specialist services:

• Specialist salons who advertise wig customising services
• Wig suppliers (NHS and private)
• Hair loss specialist
• Hair loss clinic
• Hair replacement specialist
• Trichologist

Always check that the service you are looking at has someone with experience in advising people with hair loss caused specifically by cancer treatment.


Understanding types of wigs and hair replacement systems

There are some fantastic professionals who provide excellent ideas and solutions for covering hair loss, however, the world of wigs and options for covering hair loss may seem a little daunting. Terms such as "hair replacement system", "surgical options", and "custom made suction wigs" can seem like a world unknown.

There's no need to worry because we will take you through the options available so that you can see if there is something suitable and helpful to you. Take a look through the subjects below to gain a good overview of this subject.

Different types of wigs and hair replacement systems

• Ready made Synthetic wig
• Ready made Real hair wig
• Custom made wigs
• Hair Replacement Systems

Ready made Synthetic wig

Ideal at any stage of hair loss as can be worn with or without hair and whilst waiting for new hair growth – this is the most popular choice of wig worn during treatment.

A few key points:
• NHS funded with a prescription – click here

• Easy to care for, wash and leave to dry as they reform their shape naturally

• Don’t use heated appliances - hair dryers, hot irons and so on as heat may melt the wig)

• You may need a new wig every 6 months as if worn every day for 6 months they will naturally get a static build up which may produce a frizz to the hair - this is normal

• Cheaper than real hair - Price is between £80.00 to £300.00 (and upwards)

Most wigs and pieces will come in a variety of either synthetic or real hair. The most popular choice for people during chemotherapy is a wig made from synthetic hair.

Synthetic Hair (may also be called Modacrylic Fibre or Acrylic)

Synthetic hair is a man-made fibre which is produced to look and feel like real hair. But unlike real hair you cannot use a hairdryer (or any heated appliance) or it will melt the wig. The styles and textures are designed to be washed with a special shampoo and conditioner (a bit like a fabric wash and softener). You then simply place on a stand and allow to dry naturally - very easy.

Nowadays the quality of synthetic hair is so good, that most people choose synthetic wigs over real hair. They are easier to take care of, more cost effective and with a little practice can look every bit as real as human hair. They cost from £60.00 with an NHS prescription or privately from £80.00 to £300.00 (upwards for custom made or long hair).

Synthetic hair is used for wigs and a large range of hairpieces, extensions, weaves and other hair replacement options.

Until faced with hair loss most people’s experience of a wig is one used for parties. Don’t be put off by bad quality “fancy dress” wigs that feel like dolly hair. No good supplier would offer you this type of thing for covering hair loss.

Synthetic wigs are the most popular choice and most widely recommended type of wig for cancer treatment wearers. This is because they are easy to take care of, cost effective, NHS funded (with prescription), and look and feel every bit as real as real hair. They are available in hundreds of styles, textures and colours.

Ready-made Real hair wig

Ideal at any stage of hair loss as can be worn with or without hair and whilst waiting for new hair growth

A few key points:
• Only NHS funded IF you have an allergy to synthetic hair

• More expensive than synthetic. Most of the time you must fund privately. Prices start from £200.00 upwards

• Treat as your own, can be coloured, styled, use heated appliances (e.g. heated rollers) with guidance from wig supplier

• Some care and time is needed to wash and style ( just like natural hair needs styling)

• You may need a new one every 6 months as if worn every day for 6 months they will naturally get a static build up which may produce a frizz to the hair

Real (Human) hair

Real hair is human hair. The majority of hair is collected from women in Asia who have long, good quality hair. The hair is then treated and dyed into a range of colours. But hair is collected from all around the world so textures and colours vary.

Because the hair is natural it means that it can be coloured, permed and enhanced as real hair is. This also means that a real hair wig needs more care than synthetic hair, as each time it is washed (just like your own hair) it normally needs blow-drying and styling to look good. Wig suppliers often offer a “cleaning” service whereby real hair wigs can be cleaned and restyled – but this does mean organising.

There is often the perception that human hair will offer a better quality of wig. However, over the last few years we have seen synthetic hair take on a new lease of life; the quality is now fantastic and offers a truly good alternative. However when integrating your own real hair with hair extensions and weaves, to cover areas of hair loss or with new hair growth, it is normally better to use real hair for optimum blending.

People often ask if they can have their own hair made into a wig. Generally speaking, the collection of human hair to be made into wigs is a very specialized area and there are currently only around 12 people in the UK who specialise in this. If your hair is more than shoulder length, long, in very good condition, and you have plenty of it, then you may like to ask if your hair could be made into a wig. But most of the time it would take at least 10 weeks to make and be very expensive (£2500 upwards).


Custom made wigs
There are two types of custom made wigs. Custom made with weft base (that can be worn over hair and new hair growth) and custom made with a base that needs to be glued to your scalp. Below we look at both types in more detail:

Custom made with weft base (that can be worn over hair and new hair growth)
Ideal at any stage of hair loss BUT you will have to wait a minimum of 10 weeks for your wig to be made and it will be expensive.

• These wigs are tailor made to exactly fit your head and to any style, colour and cut you desire

• Can be worn with or without hair and whilst waiting for new hair growth

• A very worthwhile investment for those needed long term cover

• Can be made of real or synthetic hair

• Will take at least 10 weeks to make

• Expensive - Costs starting from £2000 upwards

• Not funded by NHS (but in some occasional cases of permanent hair loss - Meaning the hair will not grow back at all, you may be able to seek help through your Primary Health Care Trust )

• You will need to learn how to wear and style these wigs more intensively than ready-made ones

Custom made with a base that needs to be glued to your scalp

A suction/vacuum fit wig is ideal for those needed to cover long term hair loss. The scalp must be hair free at all times so not suitable if you still have some hair or are waiting for new hair growth. In other words you must have no hair or must be willing to keep your scalp shaved in order to achieve a near perfect fit. This secure fit is designed to ensure a good seal and is often attached to the scalp using a hypoallergenic and specialist scalp glue.

• Some of these specialist wigs can be worn whilst swimming, showering and doing almost any activity as you would with your own hair

• These wigs are tailor made to exactly fit your head and to any style, colour and cut you desire

• Can be made of synthetic hair or real hair

• Will take at least 10 weeks to make

• Expensive - Costs starting from £2500 upwards

• Not funded by NHS

• You will need to learn how to wear and style these wigs more intensively than ready-made ones

More information
The following hair loss specialists offer various brands of custom made wigs:

Trendco
Trendco is one of Britain’s leading wig suppliers and has branches throughout the UK. Your nearest branch is in London.
Address: 229 Kensington Church St,London, W8 7LX and nationwide
Tel: 020 72212646‎
Web site: www.trendco.co.uk

Lucinda Ellery
Lucinda Ellery provides a beautiful, luxury and very caring hair loss salon experience. She can provide you with most fantastic hair extensions and specialist hair loss concepts.

Address: 312-314 King Street, Hammersmith, London, W6 0RR
Tel: 0208 741 8224
Web site: www.lucindaellery-hairloss.co.uk
 



Hair Replacement Systems

What is a hair replacement?
A hair replacement is a relatively new term that describes a hair loss system other than a regular wig. This may be a specialist custom made hair piece or wig, a specialist extension system or other technique to disguise hair loss. It is very important to ensure that these systems are relevant and suitable for you at this time.

Over the last few years we have seen masses of hairpieces, extensions, half wigs and specialist hair loss hair replacement systems and even surgical options come into the spot light. This is due to the increase of demand in fashion, fun and medical wearers. They are often featured in makeover programs, media and magazines.

There are loads of amazing techniques to create excellent options to cover and camouflage hair loss. But depending on what stage of hair loss you are at will determine what type of hair replacements may be suitable for you.

Most of the time hair replacement systems are only suitable for:
Extending the length and volume to new hair growth (only if growth is stable)
Adding hair in amongst your own hair or for bulking up thinning hair
Covering smaller areas of hair loss such as radiotherapy to the scalp
 

Below is an overview of various hair replacements -Do remember to avoid disappointment we recommend that you find out if suitable for you at this time:

Hair loss specialist extensions/weaves/clip in pieces

• For covering partial areas of baldness
• For extending the length and volume of new hair

Prices are normally from £100.00 up to hundreds and they are available from specialist salons, clinics, hair replacement specialists and wig suppliers.

The specialists who work offering this service are used to working on both a practical and emotional level with people who have lost their hair from cancer treatments, medical conditions and other reasons. Because they specialise in hair loss, some can offer you extensions on as little as just a few inches of new hair growth.

They normally use human hair which is customised to the colour and texture you wish. There are various techniques used to attach the extensions. They use glues or special plaiting and bonding systems. This normally means that once applied you can wash and style your hair as if it was your own (sometimes even swim in them). Many have developed special techniques that they will give a brand name too and may have trade marked for example “Medi connect – Lucinda Ellery” or “Be kind to your hair – White Cliff Studios".

You will need to consider the financial and time commitment required. For example some options will mean a regular visit to remove and reattach the extensions and trim the ends of the hair. Others may offer clip-ins – but you can discuss all of this with your specialist. Most specialists will also recommend a range of products to use.


Hair replacements/volume systems

These are normally of use if your hair has thinned and is not completely lost, or after treatment to attach to new (but stable) hair growth. The term hair replacement is relatively new. In general it is a system that has been created to offer special hair attachments in various forms to improve the volume and length of the hair to cover hair loss.

These systems normally rely upon there being some of your own hair available to work with.

An example of one of these is a Volume system. Normally a fine mesh is placed over an area of baldness/thinning and hair is added and connected to new or existing hair growth. The finished result can be treated as your own hair, swimming, showering and treating as normal. You will normally have to return to the salon every 6 – 8 weeks to have this process repeated.


These are sometimes custom made or readily available to help cover an area of baldness or thinning. Hair pieces rely upon there being some of your own hair available to work with. Some need to be glued into place and others are attached to your hair using tiny clips.

Hair pieces are a bit like a wig but not designed to cover the entire head. So ideal for helping to add length and volume to new hair growth or cover areas of thinning or patchy hair loss.

Ideal for covering patches of hair loss due to radiology to the scalp.

Surgery/ Hair Transplants

We have included surgery as we are always being asked about hair transplants and surgical options. The bottom line is that during treatment for cancer surgical solutions are often not an option. Normally this sort of thing would only be considered by those facing long term hair loss (for example some radiology or surgery to the scalp). We have decided to provide information about this so that in the case of long term hair loss you can consider your options.

As with any surgical service you must always consult with your doctor.

For people experiencing long term permanent areas of hair loss surgery may be an option. Hair transplants must be considered with the agreement of your doctor and as with all surgery should be considered as a major decision. Surgery is not normally available within the NHS so would need to be funded privately. As you would imagine, it is not cheap, and prices start from £2000 upwards.

Hair Restoration Surgery – or “hair transplants” is a basic operation whereby the physician takes “donor hair” from the backside of the head and moves it to area experiencing Hair Loss.

Hair Restoration Surgery or transplants do not solve all hair loss conditions and are not suitable for everyone. It is not something to consider unless you are experiencing long term permanent hair loss. You will need to schedule a consultation at a specialist clinic to see if surgical treatment is considered the best approach for your unique Hair Loss situation.

More information:

Lucinda Ellery
Lucinda Ellery provides a beautiful, luxury and very caring hair loss salon experience. She can provide you with most fantastic hair extensions and specialist hair loss concepts and discuss surgical hair solutions.

Address: 312-314 King Street, Hammersmith, London, W6 0RR
Tel: 0208 741 8224
Web site: www.lucindaellery-hairloss.co.uk

 

Foley Court formally White Cliffs
Foley Court offer a wide range of hair loss services. They have clinics in London and have consultations in various cities around the UK.

Web site: http://www.foleycourt.co.uk

Want to recommend someone?
If you know of any specialist companies please do let us know so that we can spread the word.
 


What is a full head wig?

A full head wig covers the entire scalp and is the first choice for most cancer patients. It is a very good way of disguising loss of hair at any stage of treatment, and it can be worn over a complete head of hair, which is ideal to get used to the situation before hair loss sets in. Equally a wig can be worn to cover partial, patchy or full hair loss and hair thinning.

There really are hundreds to choose from in a range of styles, colours and textures. Most wig suppliers hold a stock of wigs for you to look at and try on and also have catalogues to order from.

A good wig fitter will ensure that your wig sits snugly and firmly in place. Nowadays most wigs are held onto the scalp by tightening two small belts inside the wig. These are like a bra strap and are easy to use. Additionally, hypoallergenic double sided wig tape can also be used for additional support. It is also often recommended to wear a wig/skull cap under your wig. This helps to absorb sweat and help keep your wig in place.

You may have heard about some custom made wigs that are glued onto the scalp and removed with specialist products. These tend to be specialist wigs for long term and permanent wig wearers. In order to use this glue and style of wig the scalp has to be completely hair free (so no good when you are planning for your hair to grow back after chemotherapy) but ideal for those who are looking at a long term option.
 



The difference between a synthetic and real hair
Most wigs and pieces will come in a variety of either synthetic or real hair. The most popular choice for people during chemotherapy is a wig made from synthetic hair. But the choice is yours:

Synthetic Hair (may also be called Modacrylic Fibre or Acrylic)

Synthetic hair is a man-made fibre which is produced to look and feel like real hair. However, unlike real hair you cannot use a hairdryers (or any heated appliance) or it will melt! The styles and textures are designed to be washed with a special shampoo and conditioner (a bit like a fabric detergent wash and softener). You then simply place on a stand and allow to dry naturally - very easy.

Nowadays the quality of synthetic hair is so good, that most people choose synthetic wigs over real hair. They are easier to take care of, more cost effective and with a little practice can look every bit as real as human hair. They cost from £60.00 with an NHS prescription or privately from £80.00 to £300.00 (upwards for custom made or long hair).

Synthetic hair is used for wigs and a large range of hairpieces, extensions, weaves and other hair replacement options.

Until faced with hair loss most people’s experience of a wig is one used for parties. Don’t be put off by bad quality “fancy dress” wigs that feel like dolly hair. No good supplier would offer you this type of thing for covering hair loss.

Synthetic wigs are the most popular choice and most widely recommended type of wig for cancer treatment wearers. This is because they are easy to take care of, cost effective, NHS funded (with prescription), and look and feel every bit as real as real hair. They are available in hundreds of styles, textures and colours.

Real (Human) hair

Real hair is human hair. The majority of hair is collected from women in Asia who have long, good quality hair. The hair is then treated and dyed into a range of colours. Hair is collected from all around the world so textures and colours vary.

Because the hair is natural it means that it can be coloured, permed and enhanced - just as real hair can be. This also means that a real hair wig needs more care than synthetic hair. As each time it is washed (just like your own hair) it normally needs blow-drying and styling to look good. Wig suppliers often offer a “cleaning” service where by real hair wigs can be cleaned and restyled – but this does mean organising this.

There is often the perception that human hair will offer a better quality of wig but over the last few years we have seen synthetic hair take on a new lease of life. The quality is now fantastic and offers a truly good alternative. However, when integrating your own real hair with hair extensions and weaves, in order to cover areas of hair loss, or with new hair growth, it is normally better to use real hair for optimum blending.

People often ask if they can have their own hair made into a wig, the collection of human hair to be made into wigs is a very specialized area and there are currently only around 12 people in the UK who specialise in this. If your hair is more than shoulder length, long, in very good condition, and you have plenty of it, then you may like to ask if your hair could be made into a wig. It will commonly take at least 10 weeks to make your wig and be very expensive (£2500 upwards).
 


Choosing the right colour for your wig

Choosing the right colour for your wig is really important. The right colour should complement your features and skin tones. A common mistake for all skin colours and tones is to choose shades that are too harsh or dark so may not bring out the best of your natural features. A good way to get a variation of colour is to opt for a mix of colours and tones such as a wig with highlights/lowlights.

All NHS recommended wig suppliers (and most leading suppliers) will be able to show you a colour chart with swatches of various hair colours. Some wigs even have roots that have a darker colour at the roots. This clever idea makes your wig look as if your hair is ready for a colouring, thus a very natural look.

A wig supplier will be able to help you decide on colour choices. You should ask to see styles in various colours until you feel comfortable with your choice. If you go for a change from your regular colour then you may like to think about your make-up and clothes, as you might sometimes need to rethink the tones and colours you are wearing.

If you have had your hair cut or your hair has fallen out prior to your visit to the wig supplier, then it may be a good idea to take a recent photograph with you, so that the wig supplier can easily see your most recent colouring.

"New You" makeover – Do blondes, brunettes or redheads have more fun?
Now is your chance to be as daring as you wish. Whilst you can often replicate your normal hairstyle if you wish, you can also have fun with trying different looks and styles.

Darker skin tones
All NHS recommended suppliers should be able to offer you an extensive range of wig colours and textures such as afro-hair, or wigs that look like afro-hair that has been relaxed. Equally Asian hair types are very well catered for.

Darker skin tones - Check the colour of the "scalp" of your wig
The inside of a wig is commonly a weft of fabric that is a similar colour to the hair on the wig. However, some wigs have a so-called “natural scalp" attached. It is true to say that this “natural scalp” is normally white and therefore suited to paler skin types or people with a naturally pale scalp.

There are some wigs with darker scalps. A professional wig supplier would spot this and ensure that any coloured scalp is suited to your skin colour. However, if you choose to mail-order or buy from a regular (non hair loss specialist) wig shop then it may be helpful to be aware of this in advance. There is no reason why you should not wear one of these wigs with a white "natural scalp", but you may feel the scalp colour doesn’t look natural on you.



Finding a good wig supplier

There is a large variation of wigs available so that whatever your hair type, skin colour, age and style there is something out there to suit you. While it’s possible to buy wigs from the following places - some department stores, high street stores, mail order, hair salons and online shopping sites - a professional wig supplier is the person who will have most experience to offer you the widest variety of options.

NHS
Did you know that there is no such thing as an NHS wig?…the NHS do not make wigs - they outsource the supply to various wig shops. You are most likely to be given a prescription (letter) which refers you to a local wig supplier. You normally have to pay around £60.00 towards the cost but you may also be entitled to a free wig and pay no charges.

Private wig supplier
You can also visit a private wig supplier. As wigs are becoming a more mainstream fashion item, it is important to find a supplier who has experience in advising people with hair loss and those going through cancer treatments (as it is completely different from being just a fashion accessory). These individuals are trained to offer this service and normally do so with care, passion and empathy for your situation.

Most hair loss wig suppliers will provide the following services – but do check:
• A private area
• Allow you to bring a friend
• Offer cutting and colour services for preparation for hair loss and your new growth
• A return service – if your wig is unworn (within a certain time frame) for an exchange
• Some, but not all, offer a choice of NHS funded wigs – (click here for more on NHS funded wigs)
• A variety of real and synthetic hair wigs
• Customising of your wig to suit your face shape (cutting is normally included within the wig price)
• A return visit - after you have been wearing your wig for a few weeks to make any adjustments and recommendations
• Cleaning and styling of real hair wigs
• Sale of specialist headscarves and head wear
• Sale of accessories and wig care items
• Hair pieces, extensions and clip in pieces
Other hair loss services – such as permanent make up eyebrows (only suitable after chemo treatment and approved by your doctor)

There are five main ways to find a good wig:

• Visit your local NHS wig supplier
• Visit a wig supplier, salon or hair loss clinic
• Visit a hairdresser or department store who supplies wigs
• Mail or web order
• For those staying in hospital ask your care team


Some suppliers:


Bespoke Wigs
Bespoke wigs are a truly caring and skilled company who will create a style for you by mail order. All you do is send them some pictures and have a chat about what you want. Your wig will arrive via post cut and ready to wear in around 5 days. Prices start from £75.00 and a % is given to charity.

Web: http://www.bespokewig.com
Telephone: 01923 639 366 or 07956496518

Trendco is one of Britain’s leading wig suppliers and has branches throughout the UK. The London branch is below:
Address: 229 Kensington Church St,London, W8 7LX
Tel: Please book in advance 020 72212646‎
Web site: www.trendco.co.uk

Do remember that if you wish to use your NHS prescription then you will have to be referred to your local contract NHS supplier (click here):
 

Independent wig suppliers
Whilst each hospital will recommend an NHS approved wig supplier there is nothing to stop you from visiting a private independent store. There are some excellent wig suppliers are truly dedicated to offering you a great service.

Just check that your supplier is used to offering services to people experiencing hair loss because of cancer treatments as you will need advice on this matter.


Visiting your local NHS wig supplier

Speak to your nurse or consultant about your referral letter and details of your local supplier.

It may be that you will qualify for help towards costs of a wig from the NHS because your hair loss is due to a side effect of medical treatment. If so you will normally be limited to using a supplier that is recommended by your local NHS authority. These are suppliers who have the contract agreement with the NHS to supply you a wig. You will normally receive a referral letter which will tell you the details of agreed suppliers.

Most NHS wig suppliers will offer you a range which you may choose from that is covered by your NHS prescription. You may have to pay a prescription charge normally £60.00 - but the rest is funded by the NHS. They will normally also have other ranges which are not available within your prescription and so need to be paid in full privately.

Alternatively if you are happy to pay in full there is nothing to stop you from buying a wig from any supplier you wish. You may decide to do this if you don’t like the options offered to you by the NHS supplier, if you want a real hair wig, or if you decide to go elsewhere.

The good thing about your local supplier is that they will have a vast experience of helping people dealing with cancer with wig choices.


Budgeting and paying for a wig

Most people will qualify for some help towards the cost of a wig from the NHS to cover hair loss. But there is nothing to stop you from choosing to buy a wig privately if you wish. Below we explain payment options and ideas.

Budgeting
As well as your wig, don’t forget to budget for the items below as these will not normally be covered by your NHS prescription so you will need to fund these costs yourself.

• Wig stand From £4.99 upwards
• Care and styling products From £3.00 upwards
• Wig brush and styling aids From 3.00 upwards
• Wig/skull cap From 0.50p Upwards
• Accessories From £1.00 upwards

Private payment – meaning that you pay in full
You may not be offered an NHS prescription. Therefore, you may decide to select a wig that is not covered by your NHS prescription such as a real hair wig or a wig outside of the NHS range on offer.

Private Health Insurance
If you are having private treatment then your oncologist may ask you to visit your GP in order to be referred as part of the NHS wig prescription service. It is well worth calling your local NHS wig supplier to ask for their help as they can often point you in the right direction.

You will be excempt from paying VAT -

Why aren’t all wig suppliers able to accept an NHS referral or prescription service?
The NHS referral and prescription charges system works though your hospital's surgical appliances department. This department follows a strict code of conduct for regulating wig referrals. Many wig shops simply don’t have the infrastructure, availability of services or resources to be awarded NHS status. This does not mean that they do not offer a good service. Each health authority will have selected one or two shops (or services) as its main referral partners – this is just the way the system works.

NHS support
Speak to your nurse or consultant about your referral letter and details of your local supplier.

It may be that you will qualify for help towards costs of a wig from the NHS because your hair loss is due to a side effect of medical treatment. If so you will normally be limited to using a supplier that is recommended by your local NHS authority. These are suppliers who have the contract agreement with the NHS to supply you a wig. You will normally receive a referral letter which will tell you the details of agreed suppliers.

Some helpful points:
The NHS may be able to offer you help towards the full or partial costs of a wig. The NHS only funds “Synthetic (acrylic) wigs” unless you are allergic to these. In other words if you prefer a human hair wig then you would need to fund this in full privately.

If NHS funded then most wig suppliers will offer you a range which you may choose from that is covered by your NHS prescription. They will normally also have other ranges which are not available within your prescription and so need to be paid in full privately.

Many people ask why wig suppliers won’t allow them to use their wig prescription to purchase a wig that is not within the NHS prescription range. Unfortunately the wig suppliers have a limited resource and strict regulations and so can’t offer a top up system. In other words you need to choose a wig from the NHS covered range or pay in full yourself.

Remember to ask your nurse or contact the NHS to find out what you are entitled to.

Free wigs
If you quality for full payment of prescription charges from the NHS, you may be entitled to a new wig every 6 months.

Briefly, you may be covered in full for the cost if:

• You are staying in hospital as an inpatient and you are in hospital when the wig is supplied

• You or your partner are claiming particular benefits such as income support

• You have an NHS tax credit exemption certificate

• You are named on a HC2 certificate

• You are under 16 years of age or aged between 16 – 19 and in full time education

• The NHS will only fund a synthetic wig unless you have an allergy

If you do not qualify for full costs you may be given an NHS prescription and will need to make a "part payment" – see below

Other suggestions - Non NHS
• Ask your Macmillan nurse for help with financial support
• Talk to your medical team and make sure you are receiving what you are entitled to within the NHS


Part payment
• NHS prescription (This means that you will pay a prescription charge – around £60.00) You will be entitled to a new wig every 6 months.

• Your consultant will give you a prescription normally in the form of a referral letter. You may then be asked to take this to another department such as “Surgical appliances” who will send you a letter with details directing you to the local supplier/s who offer a NHS prescription service.

• You will normally need to book an appointment with the wig supplier.Commonly to visit the wig shop or the wig fitter may offer a service at the local hospital.

• You will need to pay a prescription charge which is normally around £60.00, the remaining cost of the wig is covered by the NHS

• There is normally a range of wigs offered to you that are available within the budget of your NHS prescription. This means that most suppliers will also have a range that are not covered by prescription and would require you to pay a full private payment

• You will normally be directed to a particular supplier that hold the NHS contact in your area. If you wanted to go elsewhere you would need to pay in full

• The NHS will only fund a synthetic wig unless you have an allergy

 


VAT exemption on wigs

In brief:
If you pay privately for a wig (and are not using your NHS prescription) then check whether or not your supplier has deducted the VAT charge. You will be exempt from paying VAT on a wig that is necessary for medical reasons as a result of treatment. However, not all wig shops offer this service.

In detail:
If you pay privately for a wig (are not using your NHS prescription) then you shouldn't have to pay VAT on this item. You are exempt from paying VAT on a wig that is a necessary for medical reasons as a result of treatment but this depends on the wig supplier.

This is because they must deduct the VAT at the time of the purchase.Unfortunately you are unable to claim this directly from HM Revenue and Customs after purchase. In other words the necessary paperwork, which is commonly called a “VAT exemption form”, must be completed by your wig supplier at the time of purchase (the supplier should provide this). As previously mentioned, not all wig suppliers are able to offer this.

Why don't all wig suppliers offer this VAT exemption?
All NHS referral wig suppliers will offer you VAT exemption. Most independent or private wig shops that specialise in wig wearing for hair loss will offer you a VAT exception form and thus discount. However
some smaller companies, web sites and wig suppliers who supply for mainly fashion wearing may not. So do check before you buy.

At the time of purchase
The wig suppliers that do offer VAT exemption will have a VAT exception or zero rating eligibility declaration form that you need to fill out at the time of your purchase. They will deduct the VAT immediately so you won't pay for it at all. They then claim so the cost and paper work is down to them.

Head scarves and other fabric and hair care support
At the time of writing there is currently no exemption for other hair care items such as head scarves, hats and other necessity items - just wigs and "fabric support" - hair pieces (not extensions or weaves).

Questions about VAT
HM Revenue and Customs Direct.

The HM Revenue and Customs advice service can explain this to you in more details and discuss any other items that you may be exempt from as a result of your cancer treatment.

HM Revenue and Customs have given us this direct number for you to call - 0845 302 0203, this is the Bootle Helpline that specialises in this area which is called disability relief and specialised clothing.

The web site is www.hmrc.gov.uk and the reference for this exemption is “701/7 section 10.1” if you put this into the web site search engine it will bring you to the section about wigs and exemption.



Wig care and styling tips - Taking good care of your wig

It’s really important to wash your wig in the right way as taking good care of it will help your wig to stay fresh and keep you looking good.


Washing and styling – Synthetic hair
It is well worth handling the washing of you wig with great care as rough washing may make the wig frizz, become matted, lose hair and generally disturb the style. You should be given advice from your supplier how to best wash and style your wig. But here are some general tips:

• Its best advised to wash your wig at the end of the day as you will need to leave it to dry naturally. This will take around 6 - 8 hours (remember no heated appliances or it may melt!)

• Brush your wig gently to loosen any tangles and product

• Fill a basin or wash bowl with lukewarm or cold (but not hot) water. Add a few drops of your shampoo for synthetic hair into the water and mix into the water

• Swish your wig gently into the water – DO NOT RUB, Swish the wig backwards and forwards a few times and leave to soak for 5 minutes

• Then holding your wig out of the way empty the wash water and fill the bowl with clean water

• Once again swish your wig through the water to rinse off any shampoo (holding under a very gentle running tap is fine)

• Now, with a fresh bowl of water add your synthetic hair conditioner and mix into the water – now swish your wig through a few times and gently use your fingertips to glide the conditioner through – do not comb through, tug, squeeze or brush

• Gently wrap and pat and blot your wig in a towel to remove excess water. Do not rub or role up and squeeze

• It is best to hang your wig to dry over a narrow cylinder such as a hairspray bottle or vase or on a wig stand that your supplier has recommended for drying. It is not recommended to place the wig onto a head sized wig stand as this may stretch it. You may have some pins to fix it or it may just hang

• You may have some other products such as leave in conditioner or styling products – check whether these are applied wet or dry and do so accordingly

• Do not brush or comb until dry – your wig will reform it’s texture and shape

• When styling remember to do so when the wig is completely dry

• Adding styling products (designed for synthetic hair) can help to enhance the style and make the wig look more real

• Remember never use a hair dryer or heated appliance as it may melt the wig!


Wigs and naked flames

When wearing a wig take great care to avoid naked flames – such as candles, open fires and BBQ’s. Be extra careful when opening the oven (especially gas). Most wigs are highly flammable. It is best advised to avoid open flames. Perhaps try wearing a headscarf as an alternative when exposed to naked flames.
 


 

    Videos

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