Guide to Five Major Wig Types

May 26th, 2017          Written by a Staff Member of Hair Loss in Women

Hair loss can be an overwhelming experience for even the strongest of women. Often, the events or causes that preceded and brought about the hair loss may have been devastating and trying circumstances in-and-of themselves – whether it was stress, menopause, chemotherapy, an auto-immune disease or any number of other causes. For some women, regrowing hair is a perfectly viable option. But for many others, the only solution is to wear a wig. Rest assured that the process of buying a wig does not have to be overwhelming too.

There are a number of different structural wig designs and virtually limitless colors and styles you can choose from. There are also many different ways to keep wigs on including elastic, clips, tape, glue and vacuum. Your look is 100% in your control! Here is everything you need to know about wig construction when buying a wig for the first time.

Wig Base Types

There are five major wig types: basic/classic, monofilament, lace front, 100% hand-tied, and vacuum/silicon. There are pros and cons that will need to be considered on an individual basis for each wig type. Things like lifestyle, budget, and preferred hair style/look will be factors contributing to your final decision.


Wig types - classic wig

A view of a classic wig turned inside out.

1. Classic (standard/capless) wigs

…are low maintenance and ready to wear out of the box. The construction of the classic wig is comprised of strips of hair that are sewn together by a machine. The strips of hair are known as wefting. Capless wigs have open wefting in 20-75% of the base. Full capless wigs have open wefting in more than 90% of the base. The more open the wefting is, the cooler and more comfortable the wigs tend to be. Style wise, there typically is no part because the base construction would be visible. Bangs or side swept hair are most typical to hide the front edge of the wig on the forehead. Classic wigs are typically the most affordable of all the wig types.


Wig types - monofiliament

A view of a monofiliament wig turned inside out. Note the area of monofilament on the left.

2. Monofilament wigs

…have similar construction to the classic wigs with machine sewn open wefting on the sides and back. It is the monofilament top/front that differentiates it from the simpler classic wig. The monofilament base is made of an ultra fine mesh fabric that blends with the skin tone of any wearer. Style wise, wearers have a small amount of freedom to move their part depending upon the size of the monofilament area and whether it has synthetic or human hair. Choosing a wig that parts where you want it in the first place in highly recommended. The additional feature of the monofilament area typically means a higher price compared to classic wigs. If you find that wigs are out of your price range the American Cancer Society offers brand new FREE wigs at wig banks and cancer centers around the country.


Wig types - Lace front

A view of a lace front wig turned inside out. Note the monofilament and lace front on the left.

3. Lace front wigs

…are much like the monofilament variety with a monofilament top/front but with the added feature of, you guessed it, a lace front. There is no longer an abrupt transition of wig to forehead.  Monofilament lace in the hairline creates the most natural and smooth transition from wig to skin. The additional feature of a lace front allows more options when it comes to styling. A wearer can wear bangs or have a swept back look with a very natural looking part. The lace front does mean another step up in price in comparison the the prior wig types.


4. 100% hand-tied wigs

Wig types - 100% hand tied

100% hand tied wig – light weight and comfortable

…depart from the previous wigs designs by eliminating the use of the machine stitched wefting. Each individual hair is painstakingly hand tied to the monofilament base. The process of hand tying individual hairs to the base greatly affects the price while the smoothness and softness of the base greatly affects the comfort level. In addition, styling options a little more open to possibilities due to the extensiveness of the monofilament base but again will be dependent upon the type of hair on the wig. Styling opens up further if the 100% hand-tied wig also includes a lace front. Finally, the method used to tie the hairs allows for the strands to stand straight up from the base much like the way our hair naturally grows. This typically makes for the most natural and realistic look.


Wig types - Vacuum wig

A view of the inside of a vacuum wig.

5. Silicone/Vacuum wigs

…are better described as prosthesis rather than wigs. The base is constructed of medical grade silicone that grips tightly to the wearer’s skin.   100% silicone wigs with a true vacuum require either a plaster of Paris mold of the client’s scalp or a laser scan to insure a custom fit. The vacuum prosthesis is best for women suffering from complete hair loss. Women with such extensive hair loss that they decide to shave their head should consider this option. The key is that the grip is established by silicone to skin contact. In addition, the tight grip established by the silicone base and skin can open the door for wearers to participate in activities that they may have been sitting out, such enjoying windy days, riding a roller coaster and even swimming! Silicone wigs are highly styleable and should be worn to a salon for the hair cut you want.  Finally, keep in mind that silicon wigs are more expensive due to the additional step up in features and fitting process.


Wig Types Conclusion

Clearly there is a lot to consider when buying a wig, and the types of synthetic and human hair have not even be touched on! Keep in mind that these are the five major wig types – the amount of wefting, monofilament, and silicone can vary from wig to wig. The 100% hand-tied wig is the clear winner focusing solely on the comfort and appearance of the base. The 100% hand-tied wig top of class in regards to styleability with the added feature of a lace front. Yes, it will be expensive, but you get what you pay for! Women with complete or near complete hair loss who lead an active lifestyle and have a more flexible budget should seriously consider the vacuum wig with a silicone base. The confidence you will have in your wig staying in place may be life changing, and you deserve it!


Comments 2

  1. Will these caps stay on good/tight?
    What if there are lots of wind?
    We live in the dessert…hot and yet get high winds.
    Would appreciate advice.
    Thank you,

    1. Cynthia,

      There are a variety of different methods to choose from when applying a cap. We would suggest seeking a hair stylist who has experience with applying caps and wigs so they can show you different methods. This way they can be assure you they will stay in place and you can feel comfortable and confident with them on 🙂

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