Beginners guide to wigs

My sister started chemotherapy last week and we’ve got lots of questions about wig choices so I’d be very grateful for any advice. She’s got one synthetic wig on order from the hospital but would like to look at other options too.

Can you tell the difference between synthetic and human hair? Is synthetic hotter than human hair? Is synthetic more or less comfortable than human or no difference? Is it OK to buy a wig without having a fitting? Do wigs come in different head sizes? Are there different sorts of linings in the wigs, and if so, which are better/more comfortable? Do you need to stick them on with something? Some wigs seem to include a scalp, would you recommend that? Jargon - what’s a ‘natural hairline’? ‘monofilament top’?

Don’t know if the style is relevant but my sister has a chin length straight bob, centre parting with a thick fringe, mid-brown. She’s not on the UK mainland so I think internet shopping or me buying it on her behalf are the only options.

Please add in anything else you think is relevant when choosing a wig. And apologies if I’ve posted this in the wrong place - new to this but the forums seem great and so helpful.

Many thanks

I think human hair wigs are a disaster…really hard to look after.

I also think monfilament wigs are best…look more natural…but know people who disagree.

Most wigs have masses too much hair in them so unless you have ‘big hair’ they will look odd, so get a hiardresser who can cut wigs to do this for your sister.

Tremco on the internet have a reasonable range and 100% returns policy.

good luck


Human hair is expensive, takes time to get and is a pain to look after. Artificial fibres these days look exactly like hair and are much easier to take care of. Wigs do vary in size, and a good sales person will be able to advise on what is best. I did not need to use anything to keep mine on, but some people do find that it makes them feel more secure. The advice I got was to get the wig that looks nearest to your own style, then have it trimmed on the head so that it looks natural.

However - one thing with wigs - you can have fun with what you get. Want something to party in - no problem!

I would try and get one that nearly matches your original hair (if that is what she wants). I had very curly thick hair and was immediately told they had nothing for me! I was sold a very short style (which everyone says looks good) but now the winter is coming I am freezing. There is no insulation! My neck is cold. I am bundled up in hats and scarfs. I have now privately ordered a longer thicker wig. I personally havent found the wig i was supplied by hospital had too much hair in it. Quite the contrary. As I say it depends what you are used to. Even after I finish chemo I estimate (and from seeing others) it will take approx a year to get back to what I had. Losing your hair is quite the worst part of chemo in my experience so get the best wig you can afford.

Thanks for all your comments - passed them onto my sister and she found them very helpful

Don’t bother with a human hair wig, they are expensive and they have to be professionally cleaned and cared for.

Synthetic ones are very good and wash and dry virtually overnight (depending on the length). You can wash them in ordinary shampoo and use liquid fabric conditioner, although I preferred to buy wig shampoo/conditioner, and use a large upturned jar or vase on which to dry it - not a wigstand or polystyrene head, as these stretch the base. The only thing I didn’t like was that they looked unnaturally"shiny" in flash photographs.

Go for a monofilament wig, these are more open weave and cooler to wear.

The wigs I had were adjustable - with two inner “bra-strap” like adjusters so that you could tighten/loosen them to fit.

I often wore mine with wide headbands or narrow scarves for extra security and for a less “wiggy” appearance.


When I was fitted with my wig the stylist (?) recommended the synthetic wigs for all the reasons outlined above. I was very happy with mine and wore it happily for …oh about … 5 times in all.
I ended up just wearing my Buff ( available from outdoor stores and online) -but when the wig was called for I just kept the buff on underneath to stave off the scratchiness and keep out the breeze! It also helped the wig stay in place.


Hi…my late wife had a lot of stress due to ‘wigs’,if I were you I would start off with turbans etc,thats what Monica recoursed to after spending many £’s on wigs,or do what a lot of girls do…go ‘buff’ as a badge of honor.It can look very appealing.

Hello again…Macmillan web site…SHARE is worth a visit.

I visited “Headstrong” (look on this website for info) the volunteers who saw me were GREAT. This was before I started chemo and they gave me lots of ideas for head coverings to wear with and without wigs. I wonder if you could get info and post it to your sister? When I got hospital leaflet and realised that I would have to pay a £55 prescription charge for a wig i decided to buy Buffs instead like Wynn. In the end I wore the buffs while I got used to my hair loss and to cover up when my kids’ friends came round as I didn’t want my kids to be embarrassed. I also bought a soft cotton sleep cap from one of the masectomy bra companies which I could whip on my head quickly if I wanted to cover up to answer the door. After a while I just went out bare headed; people too polite around here to stare or say anything! I tried to wear a bit of slap and big earrings; I probably looked like Katherine Tate’s character Les but I felt OK. I feel more self concious now my hair is coming back and I look as if I’ve chosen to have a very bad hair cut. I’ve met several women who have bought wigs , prescription and expensive, and then not used them as they get hot and itchy. I also met someone who abandoned her wig after watching her son play football on a windy day and it blew off along with the hat she was wearing on top! An advantage of going “naked” is there is nothing to hide, no stress about does the wig look OK, has it slipped etc. My BC nurse suggested looking in afro hair accessory shops as they stock a range of wigs that are cheap. I would buy a cheap wig and see if your sister wears it before investing in an expensive one.
You are a kind sister.
Take care

Hi: Just read all this - agree with the comments about monofilaments - they do look like real hair and move in the wind, etc. Mine have never come off. I have been working all thru my chemo - only two more to go - and needed to look like a real person in the office. I had one from NHS - would have been £200, second one from US site Headcovers. Yes they do come in different sizes - they have sizings on the details and tell you how to measure to get good fit. Really great - lots of styles and dellivery is 2/4 days by FedEx. As they are counted as medical supplies you don’t get charged duty. The site was started by woman who had BC and lost her hair and thought the options around were useless so she started own company. They also have great hats, etc. I have two by Raquel Welch, one short and one longer and fuller but had to have both of them cut - I have also taken out some hair from the roots, but they are great. My hair is coming back now - started chemo at end of May, had hoped for hair for Christmas but don’t think that will happen.

Human hair is awful - v expensive, heavy and hard work. I used to work for solicitors where one of the UK’s biggest importers of human hair was client - you don’t want to know where it comes from!

Best of luck to your sister.


I take it all back about monfilament wigs.

After getting yet another ‘big hair’ disaster I tool myself off to Tremco in Brighton on Thursday. Bought a basic wig called Zoe…had it cut even shorter and it actually looks good, and only cost £71. For anyone who has short hair and doesn’t want to look like they are in drag Zoe is great! Thanks to the lovely young woman who cut my hair (oops wig) and wasn’t patronising…


Hi girls…having experienced wig probs via my late wife Monica,I instigated a complaint against my local trust,Dorset County Hospital,as a result of which they will review their wig procedures,create a proper salon and introduce an explanatory leaflet with my input.They want to be a national leader in this field.Its early days yet,but it pays to be a pain in the bum.I’ve been at it for 16 months,with one rejection.