4 Canadian Black Women Open Up About Wearing Wigs

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Cue: creativity, versatility and much more.

Design by Danielle Campbell

Welcome to Texture Talk, a weekly column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style. In today’s day and age, it shouldn’t be a secret that wig-life is alive and well, especially within the Black community, so this week we asked four local women who love rocking extensions on what wearing wigs means to them and their wig routines.

Sadé Powell, freelance writer and illustrator

Cue: creativity, versatility and much more.
Courtesy of Sadé Powell

On wig life:

“I’ve been wearing wigs on and off for six years. I love experimenting with colour, so I always purchase blonde wigs, which acts as a blank canvas for whatever colours inspire me that month. My favourite thing about wearing wigs is being able to change my style at a moment’s notice. If I’m bored of long pink hair, I’ll purchase and dye a short blue wig. It’s like being an avatar in a game! For me, hair is a means of expression. There are a lot of ways to transform hair to accentuate your style, but when you then start to incorporate wigs and extensions, things can get really creative. Being able to continuously change my hair colour using wigs, and without damaging my natural hair, has been such a fun hobby of mine. I love scrolling through Instagram for inspiration, buying the different colours I need to mix the perfect shade, or sometimes just using the colours I have at home, and experimenting. You can always cut your hair, grow it back, curl it, buy a new wig or add extensions.”

On her go-to protective style underneath:

“I typically cornrow my hair as a protective style.”

On the non-negotiables of her wig routine:

“Weekly washes and deep conditioning.”

On her hero wig care products:

“I just recently discovered Silicon Mix Bambu Hair Treatment. It’s great for restoring moisture into my wigs when they start to get frizzy.”

On her hair inspirations:

“It was @heathersanders_ who I first saw on Instagram rocking coloured wigs in blue, pink and ombre designs. She inspired me when I first started colouring my units back in 2015. Lately, I look to influencers like @nyane and @nikitadragun for colour inspiration. I love that they use wigs to create their own characters for that day, whether it’s for a party or just to grocery shop. These girls are constantly switching things up with their wig, makeup and outfit combos to create these striking fantasy looks that I really admire. They’re both very over the top and dramatic, but it reminds me to be playful with how I express myself through clothes, hair and makeup.”

Cue: creativity, versatility and much more.
Courtesy of Sadé Powell

On navigating mainstream beauty standards:

“I’ve definitely felt pressure to conform to Euro-centric beauty standards. Especially when you grow up not seeing girls like you represented on television or in advertising, you start to think that there is only one type of beautiful. You then, without even realizing it, adjust your outward appearance to fit in, and reject the parts of you that don’t. I feel like this was mostly true for me before high school, but I was lucky to be from a very diverse neighbourhood where I would see the older girls, especially Black girls, constantly experimenting with their hair. Sometimes the styles were bold and edgy, while other times they were questionable, but creative. Having their influence really helped me find my own style through hair and made me feel like I could try anything.”

Aurore Evee, bilingual communications and creative services specialist

wearing wigs
Courtesy of Aurore Evee

On wig life:

“I bought my first wig six years ago. They’re a way for me to push my fashion style even further and play. I see them as accessories, or like makeup, and wear them when I have a specific style in mind that I want to recreate. Nine of the ten wigs I own are synthetic, and I mostly wear them for a day or two in a row. I try my best to take care of them by not applying anything on them, by combing them only before and after wearing them, and by putting them back in their boxes before going to bed.”

On her go-to protective style underneath:

“Braids, always.”

On the non-negotiables of her wig routine:

“Moisturising my own hair before doing my protective style. That way I know that when I remove my wig, I can wear my natural hair as an Afro right away.”

On her hair inspirations:

“Influencer Ambrosia Malbrough. She has been such an inspiration since the beginning of my hair journey and is still my favourite. She is so good with her hair. I love that she does everything herself and changes her hairstyle very often. I wish I had the patience to do so as well!”

wearing wigs
Courtesy of Aurore Evee

On navigating mainstream beauty standards:

“My hair is everything to me, and I’ve had such a hair journey, like many Black women. I have felt the pressure to conform to a certain standard when I was in college; I remember wanting to have straighter hair. That’s probably why I started doing weaves back in college. Accepting my natural hair wasn’t easy, because I didn’t even know where to start. I didn’t have examples of women in magazines or on TV with their own natural hair. I didn’t know what products to use and how to avoid damage. I grew up in France where the Black community is big, but it was difficult to find hair products for my 4C curls. Some of the products I bought back then were even bad for my hair! But eventually I started going on YouTube and seeing all of these beautiful women rocking their natural hair, and I started having hope. When I started actually taking proper care of my curls, I understood that: the more I knew about my texture, the more I loved it. This has been my mantra.”

Chinenye Otakpor, rehabilitation specialist by day, fashion blogger by night

Cue: creativity, versatility and much more.
Courtesy of Chinenye Otakpor

On wig life:

“I have been rocking wigs for about 10 years now. I started in grade 10, buying my first bundle and watching tutorials on YouTube on how to make a U-part wig. My go-to wig style is always big and sassy, like my personality. I love curls, but I also wear straight hair looks that have volume. I love the versatility of wigs. They also have the ability to provide a certain kind of confidence you cannot explain. I’m sure other Black women understand what I mean by that. As a fashion blogger, my wigs complete my outfit most of the time, and allow me to project the attitude I want that outfit to give. The best part of wigs is it allows me to properly take care of my hair and maintain length without constantly exposing it to heat. The funny part that I also love is that wigs also gives me the ability to continuously confuse people in 2020. People who do not understand the concept of wigs and how it is impossible for me to be blonde today and jet black tomorrow!”

On her go-to protective style underneath:

“I normally have my hair in cornrows to keep my wig installs flat. And when I do not have my cornrows, I do Bantu knots to get that curl and volume for when I wear my hair out.”

On the non-negotiables of her wig routine:

“I would say securing my wig down with wig glue is non-negotiable. I cannot be out here getting my wig snatched and becoming a meme for the Internet! Another significant part of my routine is not over styling it or overloading it with product. My trick to refresh a stringy-looking wig is using dry shampoo.”

On her hero wig care products:

“I normally go for the Tresemme Volumizing Dry Shampoo. It adds the extra little boost my hair needs in those ‘refresh’ times. And my hero haircare product is the Giovanni Frizz Be Gone Super-Smoothing Anti-Frizz Hair Serum. I swear by this product because it leaves your strands so smooth and silky, especially when I straighten my wigs. It always makes my wigs so luscious and luxurious that I’m almost convinced it is my hair! Another product I use first after washing my wigs is the Beyond The Zone Turn Up The Heat Flat Iron Protection Spray. This is one of the best heat protectants I have tried in a while. My trick when using it is spraying it on my hands first and then working it through my hair. Because it’s an oil-based product, it can make your hair look greasy [if you apply too much].”

wearing wigs
Courtesy of Chinenye Otakpor

On her hair inspirations:

“First and foremost I would definitely let Neal Farinah, Beyoncé’s hairstylist, bless my head with his hands. Others are @anthonycuts and @tokyostylez for wig installs. No one can slay a wig like these two talented human beings! I wish I could get my hands on one of their creations but my bank account continuously tells me to relax every time that thought crosses my mind. @romeofashionfix is also a huge hair inspiration. She has made me want pink hair or just any bold signature colour for the last year or so. I love that she has a signature hair colour and it never gets boring.”

On navigating mainstream beauty standards:

“I have definitely felt pressure to conform to the mainstream definition of beauty because it provides comfort that does not always need to be disturbed or questioned. I love my natural hair, but I cannot lie and say that I do not notice the difference in the way people look and treat me with my natural hair versus a wig. There are days I do wish I never started wearing wigs because it has conditioned this insecurity in me that makes me question my beauty and self-worth when I do not wear one. It then becomes a moment of continuous self-affirmation: to remind myself that I’m born beautiful just like my mother and that wigs never defined her beauty during her time, so why should they define my image — my self-worth? I have not fully been able to overcome that feeling yet. I just maintain a balance, and continuously remind myself that my natural hair is my crown. I think it’s our job as Black women to continuously remind each other of the beauty in our natural states.”

Francilia Odame-Nyarkoh, elementary school teacher and entrepreneur

wearing wigs
Courtesy of Francilia Odame-Nyarkoh

On wig life:

“I’ve been wearing weaves and braids since I was ten and full head wigs since I was fifteen. For special occasions, I love to slip on my Brazilian lace front wigs. The hair is much softer and lighter, and it provides me with a look that I will never get on my own. For an everyday look, I love natural kinky hair wigs. I find that style blends in very well with my own hair. Plus, I don’t have people asking me if it’s my real hair. As a mother of four young kids, I never have time for my hair, so I love the convenience of wigs. I can just get up, slip one on and go. I don’t have to worry about pressing my hair, combing my hair, etc. Maybe in the future, when the kids get older, I will wear my hair natural.”

On her go-to protective style underneath:

“Straight cornrows to the back. Sometimes I leave a little bit of my own hair out to blend into the wig.”

On the non-negotiables of her wig routine:

“I always wear a cap underneath the wig before placing it on my head.”

On her hero wig care products:

Got2b Glued Gel. My lace front wigs can’t survive without it. I also love using natural oils on my natural wigs made with human hair.”

On the best wig tip she’s picked up from a hair pro:

“Unless your wig is human hair, only use products labelled for synthetic wigs. Using products for real hair will stress and damage the synthetic fibres.”

On navigating mainstream beauty standards:

“My mom first relaxed my hair when I was six years old, so that right away gave me the notion that Afro hair is not beautiful. As I got older, I began to have an appreciation for natural hair. There was one major experience that gave me that ‘Aha! moment’. I had a student in my class, a beautiful Black girl with amazing Afro hair. One day she drew a picture of herself with straight hair. When I approached her to ask her why she didn’t draw her own hair, she responded by saying, ‘Because, I wish my hair was like yours.’ I was extremely saddened by this experience. I literally came to school the next day with my natural hair and didn’t even care that it wasn’t done! But in all honesty, after wearing my natural hair for a few days I realized I wasn’t really comfortable with the maintenance and look of it. So, I went back to wearing wigs. But we did have a very thorough lesson on acceptance, and we had a discussion regarding what my natural hair looks like and why I didn’t wear my natural hair. This experience taught me that, as adults, we really need to be careful of the information that we put out there (even if it’s subconscious). Ever since then, I’ve developed an appreciation for more natural looking wigs as well.”

And if you missed last week’s column, click here.

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