The story behind the resurgence of wigs

Wig sales soared during lockdown and show no sign of slowing down post-pandemic. We take a closer look at the growing trend.

Hair & Beauty

For the past decade, natural hair has dominated the black hair scene. But making its way back into the limelight are wigs. Since the pandemic wigs sales have sky-rocketed with hair companies reporting a 30% increase in sales. Spell Beauty Head of Content Jemima Cousins says: “With the closure of salons and hair shops, women needed a fast and effective solution. And that came in the form of wigs.” There are many pros to wearing a wig. You can change your length and hair colour without compromising your own hair. It’s considered to be a protective style which means it requires minimal styling, no tension or manipulation, and with the right care you can grow your own natural hair. Working from home mum Stephanie Dundle shares, “Wigs were my saviour during lockdown. I couldn’t get my hair relaxed and rather than struggle with managing two different textures on my head, I plaited my hair down and wore a wig. My hair grew a lot and I saved money on fewer salon visits.”

Here to stay

Market researcher Mintel reports that black women are the largest consumers of hair wigs and extensions, and in 2019 the industry was worth approximately $1.75 billion. Innovation has been a driving force and perhaps has been key to keeping customers loyal to brands. Synthetic hair wigs and extensions are manufactured from petrochemicalderived materials such as polyester, acrylic and PVC. These have been designed to mimic the texture of human hair, take heat up 180c and come in fashion-ready colours that are can be worn off the shelf.

When it comes to human wig extensions the textures have been expanded beyond Indian straight and Brazilian curl. Women can now wear curl patterns similar to their natural coils and kinks. “The choice for human hair is much more inclusive. My clients no longer have to chemically process their hair to match the extensions they’re wearing which makes their hair journey much more enjoyable,” says celebrity stylist Lorraine Dublin.

The (real) future for wigs

Despite the much-welcomed expansion in the human hair industry, which now produces hair to mimic all textures including Afro hair, in recent years there have been supply issues that have made it difficult for women to obtain their ideal human hair extensions in a manner that they are used to. Due to the pandemic, there has been a shortage of human hair stock from suppliers, which has driven up the price as demand outstrips supply. This has come about due to human hair importing countries like India, Thailand and Bangladesh halting trade with factories in China and it’s had a devasting impact on the human hair industry. Thankfully with the sophisticated production methods now being utilised with synthetic hair, many consumers are finding synthetic wigs are a great substitute. Not only do they now successfully replicate the look and feel of natural hair, but heat can be applied to many synthetic wigs and they are considerably cheaper than their human counterparts.

Where to shop for wigs in the UK

Depending on where you live in the UK, local hair shops specialising in black hair products are a shopping haven for wigs of every kind. For example, Catwalk in Brixton stocks over 2000 wigs and Paul’s Hair World in Manchester has a private room for fittings. To locate a store near you, turn to page 27. For an unrivalled selection of hair-enhancing products on the virtual shelves, look no further than The site is jam-packed with wigs and weaves from a range of tried and tested brands, offering options for every desired look from 100 per cent virgin remi hair to stunning ‘fros. What’s more, with an ‘excellent’ rating on Trustpilot, you can expect speedy delivery and outstanding customer service with every order.

Photo shoot credits: Photography: Michael Young; Hair: Gary Hooker & Michael Young; MUA: Megumi; Styling: Clare Frith

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