Are wigs and/or hair extensions part of your female wardrobe? If not, they should be!
Even if you’ve grown out your own hair, a wig or hairpiece is a great way to transform your look and add some instant glam.
To help you get started, I created this guide to transgender / crossdressing wigs and hair extensions.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about selecting the perfect hairpiece to complete your MTF transformation or transition.
Human Hair Vs. Synthetic Hair: Which Is Best?
Wigs and hair extensions fall into two basic categories: human hair and synthetic hair. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
PROS: Not surprisingly, human hair is the most natural-looking option. It’s also the most versatile as it can be cut, styled, permed, or colored just like your own hair.
CONS: The biggest downside to human hair is cost – we’re talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a human hair wig or extensions. Human hair is also heavier than synthetic hair and requires more styling.
If you shop for a human hair wig, you are bound to run across certain “buzzwords.” Here’s what they mean:
- Virgin Hair – Virgin hair refers to hair that has never been permed, dyed, or chemically processed in any way.
- Remy Hair – Remy hair means that the hair cuticle has been kept intact as opposed to being stripped in acid. Remy hair is softer and less likely to tangle than non-Remy hair.
- Asian vs. Indian vs. European Hair – This refers to where the hair was sourced, with European hair being the most expensive.
PROS: The biggest advantage of synthetic hair is that it’s less expensive than human hair. It’s also lighter and come pre-styled, which makes it easier to use. Best of all, high quality synthetic hair can be virtually undetectable from human hair.
CONS: A major con is that you can’t heat-style most synthetic hair, so your style options are limited. Synthetic hair also has a limited lifespan of 3-6 months of daily wear.
Though not as common, there’s a third option: blended hair. Blended hair contains a blend of human hair and synthetic hair and offers the best of both worlds: It’s less expensive than human hair and looks more natural than synthetic hair. It can also be heat-styled.
How To Pick A Wig
The beauty of wigs is that they open up an entire world of hair options. Always wanted long, blonde hair? Or dreamed of being a sexy redhead? Wigs can make it happen in an instant.
Here are main things to consider when choosing a wig:
Color and style
Your wig should flatter your face and features, so the color and style are key. If possible, I recommend shopping for a wig in person so you can try it on before you buy.
Here are a few color and style tips to keep in mind:
- Stay within 2 shades of your natural color for the most flattering look.
- Wigs with highlights (vs. a solid color) tend to look most natural.
- Shorter wigs are easier to manage and maintain.
- Shoulder length hair is universally flattering for all ages and face types.
For more hairstyle tips, check out my article on The 6 Best Hairstyles for Crossdressers and Transgender Women.
Wigs come in 3 basic sizes: petite, average, and large. If you shop for a wig online, you’ll need to know your head size so you can choose the correct size. The video below demonstrates how to find your wig size.
Wig cap construction
A final consideration is the wig cap. Here are the different wig caps that are available:
- Standard Wig – A standard cap wig has a closed lace crown with the hair machine-sewn to the cap. This is the most common and affordable wig cap style.
- Capless Wig – A capless wig is similar to the standard cap, except that the hair is attached to vertical lace strips instead of closed lace. The open design makes the wig lighter and cooler than a standard cap.
- Monofilament Wig – Monofilament wigs are made with thin nylon or polyester mesh material at the crown to create the illusion of a scalp. This looks more natural since the hair can be parted or styled in any direction.
- Lace Wig – Lace wigs are made with a fine lace mesh that is custom fitted, trimmed, and glued (or taped) to the skin around the hairline. This creates a lifelike hairline, even with the hair pulled back.
Hairpieces: What You Need to Know
Hairpieces are designed to blend in with your own natural hair. They are a great way to transform your look without the hassle of wearing a full wig. Here are the most common hairpieces:
A half wig (also known as a fall or 3/4 hairpiece) is worn away from the hairline and covers the crown, sides, and back of the head. The half wig is either attached to the head with clips or worn with the hair pre-attached to a headband.
Wiglets are a great option for girls with thinning hair or receding hairlines. Wiglets have a small base that is attached to the front or top of the head, adding volume where you need it. The advantage is that they disguise hair loss, but are lighter than a full wig.
Looking for an easy updo? Try a ponytail hairpiece. Ponytail hairpieces are attached via a jaw clip, interlocking combs, or an elastic string. (Note: To wear a ponytail hairpiece, your hair has to be long enough to pull back.)
Clip-on bangs are a fast way to add some sass to your style. Just clip them on to the front your hair and voila! Instant bangs.
What About Hair Extensions?
All those Hollywood stars with impossibly long, gorgeous hair? Chances are, their secret is hair extensions.
Hair extensions add length and fullness to your hair – but keep in mind that your hair has to be thick enough to hide the base of the hair extensions. Hair extensions don’t work well with thinning hair or a receding hairline. (You’re better off with a full wig or a wiglet in that case.)
Here are the most common types of hair extensions:
Clip-in hair extensions
Clip-in hair extensions are fast, fun, and easy. The extensions are attached with clips and can be worn for a special event and then easily removed.
Bonded hair extensions
If you are looking for more permanent extensions, bonded hair extensions are the most popular option. Bonded hair extensions are attached with a special type of glue and last 3-6 weeks before needing to be reattached.
In theory, bonded hair extensions are not supposed to damage your hair. However, I’ve spoken with lots of women who claim that bonded extensions DID damage their hair. Bonded hair extensions are also expensive, typically ranging from $500-$2000.
Sewn-in hair extensions
With sewn-in extensions, your hair is first braided in tracks around your head and then the extensions are sewn to the braided tracks.
Sewn-in extensions also range from around $500-$2,000, but they last longer than bonded hair extensions. The disadvantage is that they can feel very tight and painful when first applied and can also damage the hair.
Where to Buy a Wig, Hairpiece, or Hair Extensions?
Now that you know what your options are, where can you buy a fabulous new wig, hairpiece or extensions?
Buying a wig or hairpiece in person has several advantages:
- You can try before you buy to see how it looks.
- You can receive professional advice and guidance.
- You can inspect the quality before purchasing.
If you have access to a beauty supply store or wig shop, I definitely recommend stopping in – even just to browse and become more familiar with these items.
Prefer the privacy and convenience of buying online? Here are a few trusted resources for wigs, hairpieces, and hair extensions:
- Wigs.com – The largest online wig store
- PaulaYoung.com – Wigs for older women
- Wigs Boutique – The UK’s favourite wigs and hairpieces retailer
- Luxy Hair – Clip in hair extensions
- Ebay – A good source for low cost wigs (Just be sure to check the seller’s return policy!)
Now Let’s Hear from You!
As you can see, the options for achieving full, feminine hair are almost endless!
Now I’d like to hear from you! Please take my poll and share your experience with wigs, hairpieces, and/or hair extensions. What worked for you and what didn’t? I’d also love to hear any extra tips you might have – as well as specific product recommendations.
P.S. After you’ve mastered your hair, the next step is makeup! Get started now with my FREE Male to Female Makeup Mini Course.
Hi all Lucille asked me to repost this from her Facebook page. Hope this helps! Well wigging out until I can save up for replacements, likely to go with extensions and some form of front cover initially. Btw any full or partial lace wig is not meant to wear part time. They are made to wear for weeks at a time, they wear quickly if you re taking them off all the time, no matter how careful you are. The lace is very fragile. Human hair is awesome and expensive but totally worth it. I wore my lace human hair wig all weekend once and it felt like my own hair when in the shower. they require alot of extra care though. Even more so than your real hair since wigs cannot repair split ends. I use the mayonnaise, eggs, and olive oil mixture to keep it as smooth and shiny as possible. Always remember to use cold water or you will be pulling egg out of the hair, since the hot water will cook the eggs. this is also great for real hair too! I have not had good luck with half and half mixtures. It seems like they use poorer quality human hair on them. Right now my wigs cost only 50 bucks apiece. You can get nice ones on a budget. Just try not to sleep in them or do ” anything else” so they do not frizz quickly. They go bad fast if you are not careful.
I have worn wigs for years, all synthetic, most of my experience came from a lot of trial and error, but I now usually know what colours and style will work with my face. Wish I could do that modelling for you but I don’t live nearby.
As an out and about T girl living the public life as much as humanly possible,I have more than one synthetic wig. However,over time,”it” becomes “your hairstyle” and one of the ways others identify Rogina from a distance…So,I find that when I am happy with a particular wig..it gets worn all the time..except for it’s “standin” while being washed..lol. Wigs are truly great fun,and even GG’s with great hair enjoy the quick change to their looks,as we T girls do.
Give me some insights on how to choose the best wig for me???? I still think that I look like me when wearing a wig and I want something that really changes my looks where people who know me, would not know me if they saw me… Help please
also, what the best razor to give the absolute closest shave, face and whole body.
p.s. I am totally shaven.. love to shave leggs, breast, and under arms… Jodie
Hiya Jody! I got that feeling lots of times, too, and in my experience, a few things make a huge difference for not looking like “you with a wig”:
– Get a high-quality wig from shop specialising in wigs for women who have been subjected to chemotherapy. Since women are already very shaken due to cancer, losing their hair is something that will make them even more depressed, so these shops tend to have very realistically-looking wigs, even when they’re synthetic hair and reasonably priced. Stay away from very outrageous styles or cheap Chinese wigs (I once bought one for just one dollar on eBay!). They might look very cool, but will always look very artificial — they’re great for genetic girls who are happy to be seen “in a wig”, but not for us T-girls. Also, they will get ruined much quicklier!
– Everybody wants to be a blonde 🙂 However, after several experiences across the years, I have found out that the best looks come from not straying away much from your real hair colour. Pick one that is two shades darker, or two shades lighter; or with a touch of red/auburn; or with highlights. It will look completely different on you but still match your natural skin tone and look better. I know, I know, those platinum blonde wigs just look awesome, but… it’s not always easy to wear them naturally 🙂
– Sooner or later you will really have to master some basic makeup tricks. While the body can be covered with appropriate clothing, the face is a problem if you have a thick beard, which will always leave that bluish “five o’clock shadow”, no matter how close you shave. My personal trick is to apply red lipstick (orange would be best, but it’s harder to find) on the beard area. You don’t need to overdo it, but make sure it gets uniformly covered: what I do is to dab the whole area and smudge with the fingers, let it dry (it takes a few minutes) and then get the excess off by simply using some toilet paper (don’t smudge it — just dab). Now it’s time to apply an opaque foundation. Most cosmetic shops will sell liquid, transparent foundations, but you should find a few brands that sell opaque ones (MAC has a good cover, and so does Vichy and Clinique). If you are comfortable enough to go to a shop, instead of shopping online, it’s best: you can ask for an opaque foundation to cover things like burns or so. A good shop will have exactly what you need. Online shops that sell opaque foundations tend to have too strong mixes for my taste (which will not look natural after dried, but “cakey”). When applying the foundation, I tend to do the top part of the face first, and only then cover up the bit over the beard, to make sure that the lipstick stays where it should. I know this feels weird at first, but it works admirably well. After the foundation dries (which also takes a few minutes) you can do the rest of your makeup, and then set it with powder. The end result is a beard shadow that totally disappeared, and will remain invisible until you remove the foundation — in my case (I have a rather dark beard shadow!) I can get away with it for at least 12 hours without anyone noticing.
– Smile! Smile a lot! Then smile even more! 🙂 This is a trick that I only figured out a few years after regular crossdressing. I tended to do a lot of sultry, serious looks, and they always looked “wrong”. After learning to smile all the time, my face simply changed completely. Smiling is the cheapest “face surgery” you can do to completely transform yourself 🙂
Hope this helps you somehow. All the best of luck!
Personally, I’ve found that razors are really a matter of personal selection as so much goes in to it: The texture of your skin, it’s sensitivity, how much hair and type, and even what you shaving aid you use. I will pass on a great tip that I received from another TGirl though. Use hair condition to assist you in shaving. Not only does it provide a better means of being able to feel the proper angle to take with each stroke, but it also provides a closer shave, and as an added bonus…it also gives your skin a treatment while you’re at it. just shave before you shower or bathe and then you can wash off the conditioner at in your bath or shower. I was shaving about every 3-4 days, but now that I use a good hair conditioner, I’m lasting 6-7 days.
Oh and in answer to the original question in this blog…I wear wigs, currently synthetic. I current one is from Ecstatic, or something like that. (I can’t read the tag, as I’m Totally Blind.
Hugs to all.
P.S.: I’ve been using my initials, SBC, the few times I’ve written in the past. I’m going to use Stephanie, my Femme name, from now on.
I highly recommend in shaving Venus Swirl with 5 blades in a set. It’s really like a Magic.
I really like your article on wigs. I’m just now realizing my femininity. I have very thin hair on top, and am thinking of hair transplants. Plus I would like to grow my own hair out as much as possible. This article has really helped me be informed before I buy my hair piece. Thanks
Thanks, Carla! I’m happy to hear that. 🙂
I’d love to hear more about your hair transplants experience if you decide to go that route.
I live in Houston, but don’t wear any head pieces. I just wear a hat.I am still working on my femme side, but most people can’t tell the difference. I hope to find a job soon so that I can save money again for my SRS,FFS and hair transplant. I hope to get my name and gender changed before then. I love reading your blogs like all the other girls that post here. Hope you find some nice looking girls for your show.
I now have long hair, longer at the side, going shorter and mussed up at the back with a sweeping fringe.
I have used clip in extensions for years now – matched exactly with my hair colour, which is also coloured. This created a whole new lease of life for me – i never felt completely right in a wig, the fact you have to spend so much money on a good one and even then most of the time.
Often i get jealous of girls around me who do wear wigs, as I do get bored of my appearance, then I think ‘don’t be silly’ you’re so lucky, so enjoy it – some tgals simply can’t grown their hair. or have it long/feminine.
My tip is to nearly always stay away from centre parted styles, I have a forehead like a Neanderthal (;-) but I play it down a lot.. I’d say your hair is a massive thing in feeling rights and looking as good as you possibly can as a woman.
wow! jessie your b–t full . dee
I had to comment on this posting because there are some inaccuracies.
The first one is that synthetic hair is lighter and more airy than human hair. Actually, the opposite is true. Not only is synthetic hair heavier than human hair, the fibers are thicker which makes the human hair wigs sit flatter and more naturally on the head. Synthetic hair wigs have much more volume than their human hair counterparts.
You also mention that synthetic hair cannot be heat styled. This is not entirely true. There are quite a few synthetic wigs on the market now that are able to be heat styled.
Thanks for your comments!
You are absolutely right that some synthetic wigs can be heat styled. I updated the blog to reflect this.
I’ve spoken with quite a few stylists and wig experts and the general consensus is that human hair wigs are heavier than synthetic wigs. I own both and wear synthetic wigs when I dance because they are lighter than my human hair wigs. Of course, it also depends on the quality and density of the hair fibers. Cheap synthetic wigs do tend to have heavy and rough hair fibers, but good quality synthetics should be light and silky.
I’d love to hear more about people’s experiences with human hair vs. synthetic hair. Thoughts, ladies???