6 Things to Know Before Installing a Lace Wig on Your Own

Installing a lace-front wig is a complex process on its own, so we understand it can feel especially stressful if you don't have a stylist around to help you out. If you're new to wearing wigs, a lace front is a unit that includes human or synthetic hair that's sewn to a piece of lace to make the hair look like it's growing out of your scalp.

There's a lot that goes into figuring out how to put one on, but thankfully, the helpful stylists over at the hair company Mayvenn and celebrity stylist Jazmin Kelly shared some tried-and-tested best practices. Read ahead for six helpful tips.

— Additional reporting by Holly Carter

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Tip #1: Pick a Quality Wig

"A quality wig will change your world," Kelly says. "If you get something of quality and it fits correctly, it can almost mimic a natural hairline." That level of lace front will run you anywhere from around $800 to $2,000, she says. Look for designs with Swiss lace versus the HD type, she suggests, as she doesn't recommend the latter for everyday wear. If you opt for something more reasonable from a beauty supply store, she suggests going to a wig maker to refront your wig and customize it to your hairline, if possible.

Tip #2: Pluck Your Wig

One thing that'll make a wig look more natural is a plucked hairline, since the lace underneath the hair is meant to look similar to your scalp. You can do this on your own by placing the wig either on your head or on a mannequin and simply grabbing some tweezers and picking out hairs along the hairline as well as the part. If there's no part already on the wig, you can make one by plucking. Ideally, you should space out the plucking to create a more natural effect, but just be sure not to damage the lace in the process. "With plucking, you can jeopardize the lace because you're pulling it," Kelly warns. "So it might look good for a little bit of time, but if you keep wearing it, you're going to get holes in it."

Tip #3: Make Sure the Lace Fits Your Face

Speaking of making your wig look natural, you should also make sure the wig fits your face by cutting off any extra lace it may have come with. Place the wig on your head first to get an idea of how you want it to sit, then start cutting the excess lace along the hairline and near the ears. Look at your natural hairline, and try to mimic it by trimming with an eyebrow razor or even a microblading tool (not scissors) to make it look more natural. Before you start, try Kelly's trick. "What I tell people to do is put your wig on, get a white eyeliner pencil, and trace your hairline on it first."

Getty | Roy James Shakespeare

Tip #4: Blend the Lace

Some lace fronts come with lace that isn't customized to match the color of every person's scalp. You can easily fix this problem by grabbing some finishing powder or concealer you already have and gently brushing it along the hairline and part. Kelly recommends using a really fine mineral foundation powder and dusting it on the underside of the lace, so it doesn't get on the hair. Another trick? Since lace is a fabric, you can use fabric dye to tint it.

Tip #5: Make Sure Your Wig Stays Put

Once your wig is good to go, it's time to install it properly so it stays adhered to your head. For everyday use, Kelly suggests using hairspray on your hairline. "Let it dry a little bit to where it's still tacky, and then press the lace into it." Then put in two pins in an X formation behind each ear to reinforce the wig. Know that you'll need to clean the lace by using 70 percent alcohol and a cloth and dabbing the lace to remove any buildup.

An adhesive is another long-wear option, but using it daily can compromise your wig. An adhesive will help you keep your wig on for one to two weeks, but be sure to tie a silk scarf around the hairline while sleeping and avoid excessive sweating. And it's not permanent, so touch-ups may be necessary, Kelly says. There are also elastic bands (fastened near the nape of your neck) on the market designed to prevent slippage, but Kelly isn't a fan. "I usually don't recommend wig straps, especially for everyday use, because that tension at the nape can cause breakage."

Last but not least, if you want the most longevity, you can sew the wig down around the perimeter. "That will give the wig the lasting result of two to three weeks," Kelly says.

Tip #6: Take Care of Your Wig

This should go without saying, but you should be taking just as much care of your wig as you would your natural hair, especially if the wig is made out of human hair. Wigs are convenient because you can just take them off whenever you want to, but if you do that, try not to leave it lying around where it can get tangled or dirty. Leave it on a mannequin, and pin down the edges. "Remember, lace is a fabric, and it will tend to roll back," Kelly explains. "And so, when you pin down the lace, it helps it to lie flat." Use sewing pins for the lace in front and t-pins for the back.

Additionally, you should also be regularly washing and conditioning your wig to keep it looking and smelling fresh. But be gentle. "You want to make sure you're not scrubbing it," Kelly says. "Mix shampoo in some water and dip your wig in, combing it through as you go." Then, let your wig air-dry on its stand.