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Can I Use Normal Shampoo on my Wig?

Every day, millions of men and women put on a wig for a variety of different reasons. For some, it is to conceal hair loss or protect their natural hair from damage. For others, it’s a way to express their individuality or to experiment with different looks without making a long-term commitment.

A good quality wig can cost hundreds of dollars, which is a major investment for some people. Most people understand the importance of taking proper care of a wig and using the appropriate products to preserve it. Still, many others are using regular shampoo and styling products and hoping for the best.

In this article, we’ll explain what you can expect to pay for a wig, as well as answer a few maintenance questions to help you properly care for your wig.

How Much Does a Good Wig Cost?

When shopping for a wig, it’s important to note that there is a wide range of price points from around $100 to $2,000+. While you can get a decent wig on the lower end of the price spectrum, you can expect to pay a much higher price for a higher-quality wig. In other words, you get what you pay for. That being said, when you pay a higher price for a wig, you want it to last.

What Factors Determine Wig Cost?

There are several factors involved in determining wig cost, including:

  • Hair type
  • How the wig is made
  • Length of wig fibers
  • Wig cap

Natural Hair is Different from Wig Hair/Fibers

When considering what you should use to wash your wig, it’s important to understand that your natural hair and wig hair/fibers are not the same. This will help you to understand why normal shampoo should not be used on your wigs.

There are a couple of very important differences between natural hair and wig hair/fibers:

Human hair wigs are typically dyed or otherwise treated before they are sold. This allows the wig companies to be consistent with coloration and texture. Unfortunately, these processes can weaken the hair fibers.

Synthetic wigs are made of plastic fibers, which require an entirely different cleaning method than natural hair

Since wig hair is not attached to the scalp, it will not be replenished with natural skin oils and nutrients. This means that specific products are required to preserve the structural integrity of the fibers.

Wig Shampoo VS Normal Shampoo


Point of Comparison Wig Shampoo Normal Shampoo
Formulated For Synthetic or human hair wigs Natural hair on scalp
pH Level Balanced for wig fibers Balanced for scalp
Residue Minimal Varies
Cost Typically more expensive Generally cheaper
Availability Specialized stores, online General stores, supermarkets
Frequency of Use Less frequent Regular use
Ingredients Milder, wig-specific May include stronger cleansers

How Often Should I Wash My Wig?

Most stylists recommend washing natural hair every 2 to 3 days. This helps keep your hair healthy and allows your scalp time to replenish the oils that are lost with washing.

However, your wig doesn’t have the benefit of the oils being replenished unless you apply it yourself. Therefore, you should only wash your wig about once a week or less, depending on how often you wear it.

The good news is that every wig comes with specific instructions for maintaining it- so you won’t have to question it.

Can Normal Shampoo be Used on a Wig?

You should never use normal shampoo on your wigs- whether they are made of natural human hair or synthetic. In fact, one of the biggest myths surrounding the maintenance of human hair wigs is that they require the same care and products as your natural hair- but this isn’t true. This is because normal shampoo contains chemicals that, while appropriate for natural hair, can cause damage to your wig.

For example, most normal shampoos contain surfactants, which are sulfates and sulfate alternatives, that remove oils from your natural hair. This isn’t a problem for your natural hair because your scalp is constantly replenishing the lost oil. However, these chemicals leave wigs looking dry and dull and, over time, can increase shedding.

Some normal shampoos contain oils and moisturizers. These can cause your wig to be unnaturally shiny and frizzy and can cause matting. These shampoos can also cause buildup that can damage your wig and make it difficult to style.

What to Look for in a Wig Shampoo

When looking for a good wig shampoo, you want one that is gentle but effective for removing makeup, oil, glue, gel, and more from it. You should choose a formula that is non-drying, lightweight, and free from buildup. You should also look for a shampoo that contains emollients and smoothers that will keep your wig looking healthy and shiny without making it overly greasy.

Alternatives to Wig Shampoo

Many people believe that a special wig shampoo is not necessary- there are other options that can be used such as baby shampoo or laundry detergent.

Baby Shampoo

If you need to wash your wig and you have no wig shampoo available, you can use baby shampoo. However, it’s important to note that just like other normal shampoos, baby shampoo strips away oils.

While baby shampoo is gentler than other normal shampoos, it’s important to know that this is not a viable alternative for washing your wig. When you do use it, you’ll notice that your wig will feel dry and stiff.

Laundry Detergent

Specialized laundry detergents like Woolite can be effective for cleaning synthetic wigs because the formula seems to blend well with the plastic fibers. However, wig experts recommend that you stay away from using laundry detergent to wash your human hair wig. These cleansers can be harsh on human hair fibers and are not beneficial to the wig.

However, if you do use laundry detergent on your synthetic wig, you must follow it with a fabric softener to keep it soft and smooth.

How to Wash a Wig

Wigs should only be washed about once a week or less, depending on how often it is worn and what kind of styling is done to it. Here are the steps to properly washing your wig, whether it is natural human hair or synthetic:

For both wig types, you’ll need to start by using a wide-toothed comb to smooth the fibers and remove any tangles. Do not pull or stretch the fibers.

Natural Human Hair

Start by pouring lukewarm water over the wig to get it wet. Then, pour a small amount of wig shampoo on it and work it through. Once this is done, rinse the shampoo out, but do not squeeze or wring the wig to dry it.

Next, apply conditioner to the hair and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water until it runs clear.

The best way to dry your wig is to air dry. Simply place on a wig stand in a well-ventilated area. However, you can use a hair dryer, set on low.


Start by filling a bowl or basin with cool water and a capful of wig shampoo. Dunk the wig in the water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Swish the wig around to get the shampoo into the wig.

Then, pour the water out and fill the bowl/basin back up with clean water. Place the wig in the bowl/basin to rinse the shampoo out. Repeat until the water is clear.

Empty the basin/bowl again and fill it back up with clean water and add some wig conditioner. Place the wig in the water and gently swish it around.

Blot dry with a towel and place on a wig stand to dry. You should never use heat on a synthetic wig.

Wig Shampoos are Best for Natural Human Hair and Synthetic Wigs

While many people will tell you that normal shampoo is fine for wigs, especially human hair wigs, this isn’t true. The fibers used to create wigs are specially treated, which means they must be carefully maintained to avoid damaging them. Normal shampoos can cause damage to wigs, which means your investment is no longer usable. When you purchase a wig, make sure that you also have some wig shampoo and conditioner on hand.

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