I don’t see it as such but recently I was told I have an obsession with wigs and synthetic hair. There might be something there as I started my world trip with a black wig in my luggage, later bought a pink wig in a Japanese cosplay shop (and wore it while getting lost in Tokyo and carrying a shrine) and on African safari near Cape Town I was wearing waist-long synthetic hair in a myriad of braids. So yes, I guess I do love my synthetic hair, who would have thought? And travel with a wig is not that hard either!
But that got me thinking, did I treat it right? I certainly didn’t and to rectify that, I have done my research on how to travel with a wig and am sharing it with you now in case you would like to embrace a wig or to yourself for whatever reason. Or wear braids. And just to clarify, there is nothing wrong with doing any of this, it is just another way to decorate the top of your head and we are all guilty of wanting to do that, aren’t we?
Packing It Right
Wigs are practical in that they are light and don’t take up much space. They can be squeezed and stuffed and here lies the danger. They can break. Not such a good thing. So to not damage your new hair, turn your wig inside out (unless it’s heavily styled or spiked – such as with cosplay wigs), carefully curl up your wig or plait (if long) and put in a hairnet. Now, put it in a zippable plastic bag to avoid moisture or at least put it in a (silky) scarf for protection. If your wig is near and dear to you, pack it in your carry on. Or on your head. Just saying.
Keep It in Shape
If you are staying in one place for a longer time or use your wig daily, you might consider investing in a portable plastic stand to retain the shape. When staying in hotels, you might want to get creative by using lampshades or turned over ice buckets, edges of TVs and the like. Maybe even an inflatable ball?
Keep It Fresh
Nobody wants a wig that either looks like a wig or like a bad hair day. That is also true when you travel with a wig. So wash it before you leave to get that shine down (if you bought it new especially) and invest in special hair care products. These are different from your regular products and you might not find them at your destination or wouldn’t want to spend time looking for them (unless they are really cheap maybe). Fill them into travel size bottles and seal pace cling foil between the bottle neck and cap to avoid a spilling on the plane. It does happen. I speak from experience.
Have a Safety Net
Quite literally you should not carry just one wig cap but two. Who knows, you might lose it with all the packing and unpacking or just damage it? Better safe than sorry. And wearing a wig without a cap is not good at all. I didn’t want to believe it but when you feel your hairline slipping away while you’re having a conversation you suddenly feel like wearing one of those toupees you swore had a life of their own when you secretly fixated them from afar.
Don’t Forget the Extras
Bobbypins can be lifesavers and can change your hairstyle just like with normal hair. To get them travel ready and avid losing them (though I feel like they want to get lost all the time), pack them in tiny plastic zipper bags (such as the ones you get extra buttons in when you buy blouses), a tic tac box or pin them onto a small cardboard cutout. For styling, always pack a wig suitable comb or brush and maybe even a travel sized straightener to get those fuzzy ends out, straighten your hair or get a curl back in. Just make sure the hair is up for that and in any case, always use low heat.
Bonus: How to Travel with Braids
Braids are very different as you won’t take them off unless you are done or need them redone. On the plus side, you only need to wash your hair every week (or max every two weeks), which is such a big time saver until you realise that you need to wash row after row on your scalp, they hurt a lot when they are pulling you down when soaked with water and drying takes about 5-6 hours. But they protect your hair and make you look like an African Queen (so I’ve been told) or King.
To keep them looking mighty fine, carry a silk(y) scarf with you to use for your neck (otherwise prepare for frizziness) and to place on your sleeping pillow. Carry a medicinal and moisturizing spray and other hair care products you need with you in travel sized bottles (again, use cling foil) and don’t pull them too hard when you have to wrap up and unwrap yourself throughout the flying process. Aircons can be awful and you might already be stressed.
If you are carrying a backpack, make sure you pull up your hair to avoid getting caught in the straps and causing even more frizziness when you travel with a wig. However, don’t ever use a rubber band! Use a hair band with fabric around it or a smooth plastic band (even though they can be terribly annoying as they don’t stretch too well).