Glossary of Wig Terms
Terms are listed alphabetically. Please scroll down to view.
ADHESIVE: A liquid product, which is medically approved for use in attaching wigs and hairpieces to the wearer's scalp.
ADJUSTABLE TABS: Allow you to adjust your wig with hooks or Velcro (at the nape section) up to 1" larger or smaller for a better fit.
ALOPECIA: A common cause of partial or complete hair loss. At the present time, medical science has not been able to come up with one specific cause for this condition, nor is there an effective cure.
ASIAN HAIR: Generally considered hair that is obtained from people who live in Asia. Also called Oriental hair, most Asian hair comes from China and Korea. The physical structure of Asian hair is thicker and coarser than European hair. It is more plentiful and less expensive than European. Asian hair is naturally dark so the hair must be chemically processed to create blonde and auburn colors. See also EUROPEAN HAIR.
AURA CUSTOM WIGS: Superior wigs expertly made, just the way you want.
BABY HAIRS: Fine, short, sometimes curled hairs, which are placed around the perimeters of the wig to hide the edge of the cap.
BANGS: The shorter hair on a style, which covers the forehead from the hairline to the eyebrows. The term used outside the USA is "fringe".
CAP (WIG CAP): The foundation or base of a wig to which the hair is attached.
CONDITIONER: Usually refers to a product used after shampooing the wig, to smooth the hair or fiber and make it easier to comb out. Available in both wet versions and leave-in sprays.
CRANIAL PROSTHESIS or EXTRA-CRANIAL PROSTHESIS: Another name for a wig, but is a term generally used as a description for high-quality, hand-tied, pre-designed and custom units made for individuals who have extensive or total hair loss. A cranial prosthesis can be made from a combination of fabrics, mesh, silk, silicone, or polyurethane, which are used to re-create natural hair growth patterns, and give the illusion of hair growing out of a scalp. All materials used in the prosthesis are designed to provide maximum comfort and natural appearance.
CUSTOM-MADE WIG: A wig where a choice of any combination of cap construction and size, type and quality of hair, length, hair texture, and color are used to create a wig which is unique for the individual. Fully custom wigs may take up to 2 months or more to be handmade from scratch.
CUTICLE: The surface of a human hair strand is naturally covered by overlapping plates like scales. Virgin hair (and Remy hair) is carefully harvested with the cuticle going in the same direction so the hair remains soft and silky. This hair moves in a more natural way. The cuticle of cheaper human hair, which is not so carefully harvested, may run in opposite directions causing the hair to bunch up so it is usually removed by chemicals to minimize tangling.
DETANGLER: A spray-on, leave-in product, which is used to smooth the hair or fiber in a wig, facilitating the removal of tangles in the hair after washing.
EUROPEAN HAIR: Generally considered hair that is obtained from people who live in Europe. More specifically, European hair is differentiated by genetics rather than geography. It really refers to Caucasian hair. The physical structure of European hair is flatter and smoother, for example, than Oriental or Asian hair, so it is softer and more desired. It is also less plentiful and therefore more expensive.
FALL: A partial wig which is most often used to add length to the style. There are three basic types: full falls, headband falls and hat falls. Full falls allow the front of the wearer's own hair to show and be blended into the hairpiece. Headband falls, also known as 3/4-wigs, are worn with a headband to hide the wearer's hair in front. Hat falls, also known as 1/2-wigs, have a bare cap on top to which the hair or wefts are attached. These must be worn with a hat or scarf.
FAUX HAIR: Literally "fake hair" generally refers to synthetic hair.
FOUNDATION: Cap or other base to which the hair is attached.
FRENCH TOP/FRENCH PART: A silk (or other fabric) lining is placed under the cap area, simulating the color and appearance of a natural scalp. A French Part wig will have the silk in a one inch strip just under the place of the part. (This lining may be darkened with tea to accommodate darker complexions.)
FRINGE: See BANGS.
FROSTED COLOR: This is a color effect, which usually uses two contrasting colors in a 50%-50% equally distributed proportion throughout the wig to create a soft, blended blonde effect. The pattern is usually a checkerboard or alternating colored wefts.
HAIRPIECE: Generic term for any unit of faux hair which is worn in place of growing hair. Specifically refers to a partial piece or add-on, which is used to create more volume or length on existing hair.
HAND-TIED, HANDMADE: A wig or hairpiece into which the hair has been knotted by hand into the base, usually some kind of mesh or lace, and which creates a more naturally flowing direction of hair. A wig with a HAND-TIED or HANDMADE TOP may have a machine-made cap but the top of the cap is hand-tied to allow more versatility in the style.
HIGHLIGHTS: This refers to using contrasting colors of hair to create a sparkling, sunlit appearance. Highlights may be light or heavy streaks or blended throughout the entire wig or just in the front. Highlights are generally used in less than a 50-50 proportion.
HUMAN HAIR: Hair, which has been obtained from actual human beings who contract with the factories to grow hair specifically for use in making wigs. Most of the hair used for making wigs comes from Europe, Asia, Indonesia, and India, and must be grown under very specific conditions in order to make it strong enough to make it suitable for commercial wig making.
HUMAN HAIR BLEND: This is a combination of human hair and synthetic fiber, which gives the wearer the best of both worlds. The synthetic tends to hold its shape after washing, and the human hair looks natural and is more durable. In addition, this combination gives the wig more versatility and flexibility in styling. Human hair is mostly used in 25%, 35% and 50% ratios to synthetic fiber.
INDIAN HAIR: This is hair from India, which is generally similar in texture to European hair. People from India are Caucasians, and therefore their hair is finer in texture than most Asian hair. This hair is in high demand for making high quality wigs because of its length, fine texture, softness, and lower cost than European hair. Indian hair also tends to be stronger and more durable because the Indian women have not had their hair dyed or permed. See also KOSHER WIGS.
INDO HAIR: Human hair which comes from Indonesia. Like INDIAN HAIR, this hair is in demand because of its fine texture and softness, which makes it resemble high quality European hair.
INSURANCE COVERAGE: May be available to those suffering from medically related hair loss. For more details, visit CaringAndComfort.com.
KANEKALON: A trademark for a Japanese-made synthetic fiber, which is used extensively in the manufacture of synthetic wigs. It's popularity is due to its ability to retain its shape after washing, and also to the fine texture of the fiber, making it a desirable choice for simulating the texture of human hair.
KOSHER WIGS: These wigs contain no hair from India. KOSHER CERTIFIED wigs are manufactured with rabbinic supervision verifying that no hair from India has been used. Some authorities have questioned how Indian hair was being supplied through religious temples and whether the hair is considered an offering or a tithe. The particulars of the halachic (legal) rulings on hair from India vary widely according to the understanding and opinions of the leaders in each community. Please consult with your rabbinic authority for individual guidance in all halachic matters. For more details, see Kosher Wigs vs Indian Wigs.
LACE FRONT: A wig which is made with, a mesh insert in the front, into which individual hairs are hand-tied. This is designed to create a realistic looking hairline. The lace front usually has extra un-ventilated mesh so that the front can be custom-ventilated or trimmed to resemble an actual hairline. When properly worn with special adhesive, the hairline can be so realistic looking as to be undetectable that it is not the wearer's own growing hair. Lace Front Wigs are more expensive, more difficult to manage and do not last as long as other wigs.
LONG WIGS: Refers to wigs whose length falls below the shoulder.
MACHINE-MADE CAP: The hair is attached to the wig foundation on a special sewing machine. Most inexpensive wigs are machine-made.
MEASURING: It is important to measure your head to determine whether a wig's cap will fit you properly. This is done with a cloth measuring tape. Click here for detailed instructions.
MEDIUM LENGTH: Wigs whose length falls from just below the earlobe to the shoulder.
MONOFILAMENT or MONO TOP: Fine, breathable nylon or silk mesh with hairs individually hand-knotted into the mesh. Allows the hair to fall naturally and gives more versatility in styling. Recommended for hair loss patients, it allows for comfort and excellent ventilation.
MULTIDIRECTIONAL: These higher quality skin top wigs can be combed and parted in any direction just like your own. They allow you to change the position the part to right, left or center.
NAPE: The area at the back of the neck, just under the little bone that protrudes at the base of the skull (occipital bone), where the bottom of a wig fits against the head.
OPEN EAR TABS: These are perfect if you wear eyeglasses, as the flexible material allows for the ear tabs to adjust and contour to the face, around the temple area.
PART: Refers to a break (usually in the top) in the hair, where the hair on each side of the parted area takes the generally opposite direction. In the case of a skin or mono top, the hair may be parted all the way to the base and resemble the natural appearance of a scalp between the hair strands.
PETITE WIG: Wigs which have a cap, which is designed to fit those with small size, heads, usually about 20" to 21" in circumference. Petite wigs do not only refer to short styles, there are petite size wigs in many styles and lengths.
PRE-MADE or PRE-DESIGNED WIG: A ready-made wig, which a supplier has in stock, and which is available immediately. Pre-made wigs are available in all types.
PRE-STYLED WIG: This term can be confusing, because it implies that the wig will arrive at your door styled and ready to wear. Actually, it only means that the wig has been cut, shaped and/or curled at the factory. Most wigs will require some cutting and styling to suit the individual wearer.
PROCESSED HAIR: This refers to human hair that has been chemically treated after harvesting. Hair that has been dyed, for example, is processed. It most often refers to hair which has had the cuticle chemically removed so as to allow the hair to be used without concern for the direction the hair is being put into the wig. See also CUTICLE HAIR.
NOTE: The hair used by AURA Custom in their Classic Silver Line is slightly processed. Even this hair is 100% European human hair. Most processed hair is Oriental hair that has been treated with harsh chemicals to mimic European hair. Since AURA starts out with European hair, the chemicals they use for processing are similar to those one would use to dye or perm their own hair.
PROSTHESIS: See CRANIAL PROSTHESIS.
PROFESSIONAL STYLING: Most wigs will require some cutting and styling to suit the individual wearer. In some cases brave souls can handle it themselves. A professional wig stylist is preferred but expensive and not always available, especially in smaller communities. The next best option is an experienced hairstylist. Just remind them to trim in smaller increments (Whatever they cut will not grow back.)
READY-TO-WEAR, OUT OF THE BOX: Generally only cheaper wigs come fully pre-styled. That means what you see is what you get and you save the cost of professional styling.
REMI/REMY HAIR: Refers to human hair (usually Indian in origin), which has been harvested from root to end, with the cuticle all going in the same direction. It differs from Virgin hair as it may be colored or permed. It is generally soft and silky, and is used in making higher quality wigs, extensions, and hair systems.
SAVVY: Well-informed and shrewd, practical understanding; intelligent, common sense.
SAVVYSHEITELS.com: The smart place to find great styles at great prices.
SEMI-CUSTOM WIG: These wigs are handmade with the same high standards and care as custom, but not to the specifications of a particular individual.
SHEITEL: The Yiddish term for a wig or covering.
SHORT WIGS: Refers to styles whose length falls above the chin line.
SKIN PART: This refers to a strip of white fabric, usually silk, along the part into which the hairs are threaded. This gives the appearance that the hair is actually growing from the scalp. This part cannot be changed.
SKIN TOP: These wigs have a piece of thin latex or polyurethane inserted into the top of a wig, with hair implanted into it, in order to create the appearance of hair growing out of a person's scalp.
SYNTHETIC FIBER: Three types of synthetic fibers used in the manufacture of wigs are polyester, acrylic, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The quality and life expectancy of a wig fiber is usually measured by its similar appearance to human hair and also by its tolerance to heat.
SYNTHETIC WIG: Any wig made from synthetic fiber. They are available in a multitude of styles, lengths, colors, and qualities.
TAPE: In the wig business, this refers to thin plastic or cloth tape, which is sticky on both sides for securing a wig to the scalp. Most effective when used with a TAPE TAB made of a non-porous material (like thin polyurethane) that is welded or sewn into the cap of the wig. Double-sided adhesive tape works best when secured to bare, smooth skin or scalp. This is sometimes referred to as "toupee" tape.
TAPE TAB: This is a strip of non-porous material, which is sewn or bonded to the underside of a wig in order to create a surface to which to attach tape or adhesive.
THINNING SHEARS: This is a tool used in cutting hair which resembles a pair of scissors, but has tiny blunt teeth along one edge. They are generally used for removing bulk from the hair, but are also recommended for use in doing a full cut on wigs.
T-PINS: Small, T-shaped metal pins, which are used to secure a wig or hairpiece to a Styrofoam or canvas head.
UNDERLOOPING or UNDER-VENTING: The process of adding strands of hair just under the front edge of a wig to hide the cap. This hair may be the same wave pattern and length as the rest of the wig, or may be shorter and curlier than the hair in the body of the wig. Underlooping may be done just at the front hairline, or can be done completely around the perimeter, depending on the effect needed for the hairstyle. See also BABY HAIRS.
UNPROCESSED HAIR: See VIRGIN HAIR.
VELVET FRONT: A small piece of soft, velvety material, which is inserted into the front of a wig to create a more comfortable fit at the hairline.
VENTILATION: A term used in the wig industry to describe the process of tying or knotting individual hairs by hand into the cap of a wig. Hand ventilating is a very time-intensive process and requires a steady hand, a sharp eye, and a level of skill which may take years to master. This is the reason that most hand-tied wigs cost more than their machine-made counterparts.
VIRGIN HAIR: This term refers to human hair, which is still in its original state as harvested from the grower, and which has not been permed, colored, or chemically processed in any way. It is carefully cut from the grower with the cuticle going in the same direction and preserved to maximize its special quality. Harvesting the hair in this manner takes more time, which contributes to the premium price. In spite of the high cost, top-quality Virgin European hair wigs are in high demand.
VOLUME: The amount of hair or fullness in a style. Most wigs are made with a medium density, which creates a natural volume effect. If more volume is desired, the wig may be set in rollers, blow-dried, or curled with an iron. Volume can also be added by using a styling product such as gel or mousse.
WEFT: An amount of hair or fiber, which is doubled over and MACHINE-SEWN along the top to create a long strand of hair. Wefted caps can be cooler and more durable than handmade caps.
WIG CAP: The foundation or base of a wig to which the hair is attached.
WIG LINER: A lightweight, stretchable cap worn under a wig that holds the existing hair flat and helps keep it from slipping on the head. Caps can be made of nylon (like a nylon stocking) or various types of porous material.
"This wig is FANTASTIC! I've gotten compliments every time I wore it, and people didn't even believe me that it wasn’t my own hair! This wig is super comfortable, airy, and light, and the hair is very soft."
"My husband adored it. It was a hit with entire family. It was so comfortable to wear and I received many compliments."