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How Do I Fix a Tangled Wig?

By Megan Shoop
Updated May 21, 2024
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Wigs get tangled, just like the hair growing out of a person’s head. Everyday wear and tear, such as the kind caused by rain and wind, can quickly create tangles. Fixing a tangled wig involves cleaning it, followed by careful brushing with the help of a detangler.

The first step to fixing a tangled wig is washing it to get rid of the dirt and oil that might be making the strands cling together. Synthetic wigs must be washed in cool water because heat will fuse synthetic strands together, making tangles impossible to remove. Lightly swirling the wig around in sudsy water is enough to clean it. Applying a little ordinary hair conditioner before the final rinse helps loosen especially stubborn tangles.

Allowing the wig to dry on a wig stand is the second step to fixing a tangled wig. Knots and tangles must be removed when the wig is dry. Wet strands are weaker than dry ones, making them more likely to break. Too much breakage can cause a very sparse or rough-looking wig.

When combing out a tangled wig, the wearer can place it on a wig stand or slip it on his or her head. Wearing the piece allows the wearer to style the wig to complement his or her face shape, and placing it on a stand gives the person access to all sides of the hairpiece. The wearer might also start with the wig on the stand or on his or her head and transfer it later for easier styling.

A mixture of about 75 percent cool water and 25 percent leave-in conditioner or fabric softener provides an inexpensive detangling spray. Holding the bottle about 4 inches (10 cm) from one of the knotted regions, the wearer should spritz the tangled wig once or twice. Too much detangler can make the wig feel greasy, so two spritzes should be plenty.

The wearer should gently pinch the hair right above one of the tangled areas with his or her first and middle fingers, smoothing the tangles over the ring and pinky fingers. With a plastic, stiff-bristled wig brush, the wearer must gently begin combing the ends of the tangled wig, smoothing the detangled hair over the ring and pinky fingers. When one section is fully detangled, the wearer should comb through it several times to fully separate the strands. After the wig is smooth, the wearer can style the wig with foam rollers and mousse or set it on a wig stand for safe keeping.

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Discussion Comments
By literally45 — On Apr 04, 2013

@SarahGen-- I'm guessing that you have a natural hair wig?

Wigs are prone to tangling because normally our scalp produces oil which naturally conditions and protects our hair. But with wigs, that's not possible. Many wigs have also been processed and dyed to different colors so they are damaged..

You have to moisturize your wig more than you do real hair. For this, I suggest doing hair masks with natural oils like coconut oil, jojoba or argan oil at least one to two times a week.

Each time, leave the oils on for at least half an hour and then rinse. This has worked very well for my wig. It rarely tangles now.

By SarahGen — On Apr 04, 2013

Are there any long term solutions for a tangled wig? I'm able to detangle my wig but it only lasts a few days.

By ysmina — On Apr 03, 2013

I'm a stage performer and I use wigs all the time. All of my wigs are made of real human hair. So when my wigs get tangled, I do the same thing that I do with my own hair. I first wash it with a mild shampoo. Then, I use conditioner and rinse with warm water. If the tangle is very bad, I detangle it slowly with warm water and conditioner. Conditioner really makes this process easier.

Finally, I towel dry and then apply leave-in-conditioner and style. Before I style, I always comb the wig thoroughly with a wide tooth comb. I only use a wide tooth comb for combing because it prevents damage to the hair and detangles better.

Some people try to do this without a wig stand but that's a bad idea. You need the wig to stand still in order to comb it and style it.

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