All About Wigs
Everything you need to know about wigs!
GLOSSARY OF TERMS Printer Friendly Version

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ADD-ON: Refers to any hairpiece which is meant to be added on, or attached to, your own hair to add length, volume, or texture. Temporary attachment methods may be barrette clips, banana clips, wing combs, butterfly clips, or small comb-clips. Extended wear pieces, such as weaving hair or extensions, may be braided or sewn into the hair, or bonded onto the hair with special adhesive.

ADHESIVE: A liquid product which is medically approved for use in attaching wigs and hairpieces to the wearerís scalp. A light application of a good adhesive provides a secure, worry-free attachment. Most adhesives require a special solvent for removal, but our MAX LIQUID ADHESIVE ģ can be removed with common 99% alcohol, which can be found at your local pharmacy.

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. For more information, please CLICK HERE

ATTACHMENT: Any process which uses a method of affixing the wig or hairpiece to the wearerís existing hair for security. Attachment may be temporary or extended wear, depending on the particular type of method or accessory used. Popular attachment methods are combs, clips, beads and loops, thread, or special adhesives.

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BACKCOMBING: The process of lacing hair together at the base to create fullness to a style. The hair strand is pulled away from the head, and held firmly but lightly while the comb is inserted into the hair and pushes some of the hair backward down the strand toward the root area. Hair is then gently brushed or combed over the backcombing to smooth out the style.

BABY HAIRS: Fine, short, sometimes curled hairs which are placed around the front of the wig to hide the edge of the cap.

BANANA CLIP: A long plastic hair clip with teeth on the inner side of each half, which grasp the hair between the two parts and snap closed at the top and/or bottom. Many wig companies attach hair to these clips in various lengths and curl patterns. When a personís own hair is pinned up or pulled into a short ponytail and the banana clip is snapped closed over it, it creates the illusion of a ponytail or bustle effect down the back or side of the head.

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".

BLOCK: 1) A durable styling head, usually stuffed with cork or sawdust and covered with canvas, which is placed on a styling clamp and used in the process of styling a wig or hairpiece. The piece is pinned to the block with T-pins. 2) The process of shaping a cotton cap wig to the size and shape of a personís head. Human hair wigs with cotton caps will shrink to fit, and require stretching and pinning on the proper size block after washing to ensure a proper fit.

BRAID: 1) The process of taking at least three strands of hair and plaiting them together to create one strand. There are many different fashion effects which can be achieved with this process. A tiny braid may also be used to create a secure anchor against the head for attaching wefted hair extensions using a needle and thread to sew the extension to the braid. 2) A hairpiece with a longer length of hair which may be purchased with the braid already in it. Braids come in many different lengths and thicknesses.

BRAIDING HAIR: Generally refers to loose or bulk hair which has not been sewn into wefts. Used to create length by braiding the loose hair into the clientís own hair.

BUTTERFLY CLIP: A two-part, plastic clip with teeth on each half and a spring that holds the two halves together. When the top wings are pinched, the teeth open up and are placed over your hair. When you let go of the wings, they close on your hair creating a very secure attachment. There are butterfly clips available with hair attached, in several different styles, lengths, and curl patterns.

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CABLE: Refers to a system of thread or line attached together within certain types of better quality hair integration units, to create the base on which the integration in made.

CAP (WIG CAP): The foundation or base of a wig to which the hair is attached. To see examples of wig caps, please refer to CAP CONSTRUCTION.

CAPLESS WIG: Typical wig cap which is made by machine, and has vertical, elastic lace strips to which wefts of hair are horizontally sewn. The term "capless" means that there are open spaces between the wefts.

CLAMP: A plastic or metal appliance with a tapered spindle on top that holds the styling block and which has a threaded screw underneath that attaches it to a table or other flat surface. The spindle may be securely adjusted to accommodate many working angles. There are also types of styling holders that use suction instead of the screw-type attachment. We carry both types and they may be found in the STYLING TOOLS section on our site.

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: 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 or fiber, length, curl pattern, and color are used to create a wig which is unique for the individual. The price of a custom wig depends on the options you choose.

CUTICLE: The outside surface of a human hair, which contains "imbrications" or overlapping scale-like features. In wigs, this layer is usually removed by chemical means to minimize tangling. Remi (Remy) hair and Virgin hair are harvested with the cuticle going in the same direction, and the cuticle remains intact during the wigmaking process.

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DEMI-WIG: A partial hairpiece which covers most of the hair, and which allows you to wear your front hair pulled out over the cap and mixed with the wig hair to create length and/or fullness in the style. See also 3/4-WIGS and FALLS.

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.

DOUBLE-DRAWN HAIR: This is human hair that has been cut at both ends for even length. (see also SINGLE-DRAWN HAIR)

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ELURAģ: A brand of synthetic fiber which is used to make wigs. This fiber generally has a higher heat tolerance than most other synthetics, and is more durable. Wig companies may place a tag in the back of their wigs which says "ELURA", which confuses many people into thinking that ELURA is a wig brand name.

EUROPEAN HAIR: Hair which is obtained from people who live in Europe. This hair is available both as virgin and processed hair, and may have various textures depending on the ethnicity of the growers. All European hair is not created equal. Like any other human hair, European hair can vary in degree of fineness or coarseness, and the price depends on the quality. A high quality European hair wig may cost well over $2000.

EXTENSIONS: See HAIR EXTENSIONS.

EXTENDED WEAR: In hair replacement, this refers to a process which uses attachment techniques which allow the wearer to wear the unit for an extended period of time without having to remove it. There are various processes which allow this, which include sewing, weaving, bonding, and beading.

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FALL: A partial hairpiece which generally has a round or oval shaped base, which is used at the back of the head to add length to the style. A fall allows the front and sides of the wearerís own hair to show and be blended into the hairpiece. Or it may also be worn with a scarf or headband to hide the wearerís hair. Available in both human hair and various synthetic fibers, falls are also known as 3/4-hairpieces.

FIBER: Generally refers to the fine plastic filaments known as synthetic hair. There are various qualities of fiber used in the manufacture of wigs and hairpieces. Some synthetic fibers are more expensive to produce because of their texture, heat resistance, durability, and resemblance to human hair.

FOUNDATION: Cap or other base to which the hair is attached.

FRENCH TOP: A monofilament top is an area in the top of the wig, through which each individual hair is pulled to create the natural appearance of a scalp. In a French Top, there is a silk lining under the monofilament area, simulating the color and appearance of a natural scalp. This silk lining may be darkened with tea to accommodate darker complexions. For more information, see CAP CONSTRUCTION in the ALL ABOUT WIGS menu.

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.

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HAIR EXTENSIONS: Generically, any type of hairpiece which adds the illusion of length to existing hair. Specifically refers to wefts of hair which are hand-stitched or weaved onto a tiny cornrow braid on the head. Another method uses adhesive to bond the extension to the existing hair in order to add length.

HAIR ENHANCER: See HAIR INTEGRATION.

HAIR FIBER: Synthetic, human hair, or a combination of human and synthetic hair.

HAIR INTEGRATION: A hair integration is a system of nylon or polyester thread, which generally resembles a hairnet with hair attached. This allows you to pull your own hair through the spaces between the netting to add volume and/or length to thinning or fine hair. They are available in various sizes and base constructions--both partial and full coverage--to accommodate different patterns of hair loss. Hair integrations come in both human hair and synthetic fiber in various qualities and price ranges, and may be ordered with custom options such as size, hair length and color, and base construction.

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 has a machine-made cap but the top of the cap is hand-tied to allow more versatility in the style.

HAND-TIED WEFTS: Human hair extensions using a method of wefting the hair along the top by sewing the strand with fine thread by hand. Obviously, this takes more time and expertise than machine-sewing the weft, and so is higher in cost. The purpose of hand-tying the wefts is so that when the hair is attached to growing hair, the weft is less noticeable, and has the added benefit of being lighter in weight for the wearer.

HIGHLIGHTED COLOR: This refers to using contrasting colors of hair to create a sparkling, sunlit appearance. Highlights may be light or heavy, scattered throughout the entire wig or just in the front, chunky or blended. Highlights are generally used in less than a 50-50 proportion.

HONEYCOMB WIG or HAIRPIECE: This is a full-head or partial hairpiece which has an open cap design with spaces through which your own hair can be pulled to create more fullness. A less expensive type of hair integration unit.

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 withstand the chemical processes necessary to make it suitable for commercial wigmaking. In general, American hair is not considered strong enough to withstand these processes, and therefore, is not in demand by the manufacturers.

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.

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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 and hairpieces because of its length, fine texture, softness, and lower cost than European hair.

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, see this subject in the ALL ABOUT WIGS menu.

INTEGRATION: The process of pulling oneís own hair through a hair integration unit to achieve more volume and/or length.

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KANEKALON: A trademark for a Japanese-made synthetic fiber which is used extensively in the manufacture of wigs and hairpieces. Itís 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. There are different qualities of Kanekalon fiber.

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LACE FRONT: A wig or hairpiece 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 wearerís own growing hair.

LONG WIGS: Refers to wigs whose length falls below the shoulder.

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MACHINE-MADE CAP: See also CAPLESS WIGS. 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 wigís cap will fit you properly. This is done with a cloth measuring tape, and complete instructions may be found by going to "MEASURING, the importance of" in our ALL ABOUT WIGS menu.

MEDIUM LENGTH: Wigs whose length falls from just below the earlobe to the shoulder.

MICRO-SKIN TOP: See MONOFILAMENT TOP.

MONOFILAMENT or MONO TOP: Fine, transparent nylon or silk mesh with hairs individually hand-knotted into the mesh. Allows the hair to fall naturally and gives more versatility in styling. Very suitable for persons with extensive hair loss, as the color of the scalp underneath shows through, creating the illusion of hair
growing out of your scalp.

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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. Many Jacquelyn wigs have little stays at the nape which can be bent in for a better fit at the nape.

NATURAL TOP: May refer to either a mono- or microfilament top, or a French or skin top. A Jacquelyn wig which is made with a top that approximates the look of a scalp.

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OCCIPITAL BONE: The little bone that protrudes from the bottom of the back of the skull. The nape of a wig fits just below this bone.

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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.

PARTIAL: Refers to a hairpiece which only covers part of the head. Used to create volume or length in a specific area.

PETITE WIG: Wigs which have a cap which is designed to fit those with small size heads, usually about 20" to 21" in circumference. Most people are under the mistaken impression that this refers only to short, styles. There are petite cap wigs in many styles and lengths, including medium and long styles, in both synthetic and human hair.

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. In reality, it only means that the wig or hairpiece has been cut, shaped and curled at the factory, and then folded up and placed in a little box for shipping to the wholesaler. Typically, this is the way you will receive your wig when you order it from most mail order wig companies. You then have to either comb it out and style it yourself, or take it to a local professional to have it styled for you. See PROFESSIONALLY STYLED WIG.

PROCESSED HAIR: In the wig business, usually refers to human hair which has had the cuticle removed by chemical means in order to minimize tangling, and to allow the hair to be used without having to be concerned about which direction the hair is being put into the wig or hairpiece. VIRGIN HAIR must be added to the cap with the cuticle going all in one direction. PROCESSED HAIR is used extensively in the manufacture of wigs and other hair goods because it is cheaper to produce than virgin hair.

PROFESSIONALLY STYLED WIG: When a new wig is ordered professionally styled from us, it is cleaned, conditioned, cut, shaped, set, and styled like the picture of that style in the catalog, or otherwise as the customer requests, so that when it is received itís ready to put on and wear. This is essentially a custom style.

PROSTHESIS: See CRANIAL PROSTHESIS.

PROFESSIONAL STYLING: This is the process in which we take the wig out of the box, wash and condition it, cut and shape it if necessary, and set and arrange the hair in the style requested by the customer. The prices on the wigs on our website include professional styling, but if you wish to receive your wig unstyled, please contact us for details.

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QUALITY HAIR: This term refers to the characteristics of hair or fiber used in making wigs and hair goods. The grade of fiber or hair used to produce the piece determines its price. Quality depends on texture of the hair or fiber, durability, comfort, and construction of the piece.

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REMI/REMY HAIR: Refers to human hair (usually Indian in origin) which has been harvested from root to end, with all of the cuticle going in the same direction. It is different from Virgin hair as it may be colored or permed, but has not had the cuticle removed. It is generally soft and silky, and is used in making higher quality wigs, extensions, and hair systems.

RESTYLING: Any wig which has been purchased from us styled may be sent back for restyling. This means that the wig will be washed, conditioned, and arranged in the style requested by the customer. There is a charge for this, based on the complexity of the style. Please contact us for details on your particular style.

ROOT-TIPPED COLOR: This is a color effect which uses a blend of light and dark colors to create the appearance of hair which is darker at the root area and lighter on the ends.

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SHORT WIGS: Refers to styles whose length falls above the chin line.

SILICONE BASE: This is usually a partial hairpiece with a foundation which is made from silicone. Silicone resists discoloration and resembles human skin to the touch, but can be hot to wear. It is a good but expensive choice where the natural look and feel of a scalp is desired.

SINGLE-DRAWN HAIR: This is human hair that has been cut only at one end, leaving free ends as it was taken from the grower. (see also DOUBLE-DRAWN HAIR)

SKIN TOP: 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 personís scalp.

STEAMING: The process by which most synthetic fiber is curled at the factory. The curl pattern in a synthetic wig or hairpiece may be changed by setting it in rollers or clips, and using an ordinary hand-held clothing steamer on them. After steaming the curls, let the fiber get completely cool before removing the pins or rollers.

SYNTHETIC FIBER: Any fiber that is man-made and created from chemicals. Examples of synthetic fibers are nylon, rayon, orlon, and polyester. There are three types of synthetic fibers used in the manufacture of wigs and hairpieces. They 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. There are many different levels of quality in synthetic fibers, even within one type (such as Kanekalon). Some fiber is very cheaply produced, has an unnatural sheen, and will not tolerate heat well. Other synthetics appear much more like human hair, and will tolerate more heat, sometimes over 300F degrees. This accounts for the wide variation in the price of synthetic wigs.

SYNTHETIC WIG: Any wig made from synthetic fiber. They are available in a multitude of styles, lengths, colors, and qualities. The prices can range from very inexpensive (under $20) to very expensive (over $600), depending on the quality and construction.

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TAPE: In the wig business, this refers to thin plastic or cloth tape which is sticky on both sides for securing a wig or hairpiece 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 "toupeť" tape, as it has been traditionally used as one method of securing men's hair replacement units to the head. However, in recent times, it is widely used by anyone who wants extra security but does not prefer a more permanent attachment.

This type of tape is available in 1/2", 3/4" and 1" widths in rolls. The roll allows the wearer to cut and shape the tape to accommodate his or her own needs. It is also available in pre-cut strips, either straight or with various curve patterns, depending on how and where on the head one is using it.

TAPE TAB: A strip or small section of polyurethane or other non-porous material, which is sewn or bonded to the underside of a wig or hairpiece in order to create a surface to which to attach tape or adhesive to the piece.

TEASE: See BACKCOMBING.

THINNING SHEARS: A tool used in cutting hair which resembles a pair of scissors, but has tiny teeth along the cutting edge which only remove small sections of the strand of hair being cut. They are generally used for removing bulk from the hair, but are also recommended for use in doing a full cut on wigs. Wig hair is different from growing hair, and different techniques must be used in its preparation. Cutting wig hair with regular hair cutting shears will leave the wig hair too blunt, so that the hair wonít lay or move naturally. I use only thinning shears when doing a cut and shaping on a wig or hairpiece.

TIPPED: See ROOT-TIPPED COLOR.

T-PINS: Small, T-shaped metal pins which are used to secure a wig or hairpiece to a styling block. T-Pins are available in different lengths, depending on which type of wig one is working on. 2-inch pins are used for machine-made wigs, and 1-inch pins are used for hand-tied wigs that have polyurethane or silicone areas in the base.

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ULTRA-PETITE WIGS: These are wigs with extra-small caps for children and adults whose head has a circumference of 19" to 20". There is not a large number of pre-made wigs which will fit this head size, but there are a few. Generally this is a custom size.

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.

UNSTYLED WIG: 1) This is a wig that is folded up in a net, and comes in a little box or plastic bag. When you order your wig unstyled, you will have to either style it yourself, or take it to a professional in your area. Most mail order wigs come in this condition. 2) A wig which comes in an unfinished condition, and requires a professional cut, shaping, and style to customize it for the customer.

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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 partial or full-coverage unit. The cap may be made of fine silk, monofilament or polyester mesh, thin polyurethane or silicone skin-like material, or a combination of both. 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 of this hair. Virgin hair can be of any ethnic origin, but the best quality hair used in making wigs today is of Russian, Ukrainian, Belgian, and Turkish origin. This is the most expensive hair of all because it is not as plentiful as lesser quality hair. In spite of the high cost, top-quality Virgin European hair wigs are in high demand by those who wish to wear only the finest.

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.

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WEAVE, WEAVING: Refers to the process of sewing, braiding, or crocheting synthetic or human hair (either loose or on a weft) into a personís own hair to create more volume and length.

WEFT: An amount of hair or fiber which is doubled over and MACHINE-SEWN along the top to create a long strand of hair. This is also the type of hair strand used for hair extensions and weaving. HAND-TIED WEFTS are also available for use as hair extensions, but not generally used for making wigs.

WIG: The term used to describe any hairpiece with a full cap which covers the hair on the head, or the entire area where hair normally grows, as a substitute for hair. The ideal purpose of a wig is to create
the illusion that the wig is actually a personís own hair.

WIG CAP: The foundation or base of a wig to which the hair is attached. To see examples of wig caps, please go to the ALL ABOUT WIGS menu and click on CAP CONSTRUCTION. See also WIG LINER.

WIGLET: A small hairpiece which is used to create more volume in a specific area.

WIG LINER: A lightweight, stretchable cap worn under a wig, that fits over the scalp and holds the existing hair flat, and keeps the wisps from peeking out from under the wig. Gives the wig a base to hold onto to keep it it from slipping on the head. May be made of nylon material (like a nylon stocking) or various types of mesh.

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YAK HAIR: Long, coarse hair which is obtained from a special breed of ox called a Yak. Since white and silver hair is rarely found in its natural color in usable lengths and quantities in human hair, Yak hair is substituted in making wigs and hairpieces in which the customer wishes to have real hair in white or light grey shades.

YAKI HAIR: Hair which has a slightly rough or coarse texture, like African American hair which has been chemically straightened. Hair may be soft to the touch, but appears as a very light kinky texture. Also called Kinky-Straight or Perm-Straight hair.

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ZEBRA: A white, horse-like animal which has black stripes. Or is it a black, horse-like animal with white stripes? Usually they have buck-teeth and they love honeydew melons. (OK, so YOU come up with something for "Z"!)




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