When Nikki McCoy gets dressed for work each morning, she picks out a dress, accessories, and a hairpiece. "I have my (hairpieces) up on a wall," says McCoy, a makeup artist at Fifi Mahony's (934 Royal St., 525-4343; www.fifimahonys.com) who alternates between fake buns, ponytails, falls and three-quarter wigs. "I just choose what hair I want that day."
McCoy says more and more women are opting for hairpieces, influenced by celebrities who don't leave home without some sort of enhancement to their strands. "If you see a celebrity with gorgeous hair, almost 100 percent of the time, they're wearing a fall," she says.
But you don't need a celebrity's budget or top-notch stylists to get great (fake) hair. In fact, part of the appeal of hairpieces is that they're cheap (prices start at $5 for a single clip-in highlight at Fifi Mahony's) and easy to install. "It's a fun way to try a different look," says Brenda McField, owner and hairstylist for Mariposa Salon & Spa (3700 Orleans Ave., Suite D, 484-0440; www.mariposasalonandspa.com). McField received lots of compliments when she wore a clip-in bun to a wedding last spring. "Wigs are not just for people without hair any more," she says.
Women typically have two main concerns when donning hairpieces: Will it look natural, and will it stay in? To get the most natural look, make sure the hairpiece's color and texture matches or blends with your hair, and enlist the help of a professional. Many wig stores, including Fifi Mahony's, offer free fittings and share tips and tricks with customers. McField suggests dusting synthetic hairpieces with a tiny amount of baby powder to tone down their glossy sheen. She also razors the ends to give them a more natural, textured appearance. Customers can bring hairpieces or extensions in to Mariposa Salon & Spa to have them styled or trimmed.
To maintain hairpieces, comb them out and store them properly when not in use. Every four to six wearings, wash them by hand with cool water and wig shampoo, and do not use heat on synthetic pieces.
Finally, a properly installed hairpiece shouldn't be painful to wear. "Make sure it feels comfortable," says Fifi Mahony's stylist Jamie Gandy. "It's not in right if it's hurting your head."
What it is: A partial wig that covers the back of the head and leaves the natural hairline exposed while adding length and volume
How to install: Part your hair from ear to ear, bringing all the hair behind the ears into a low bun and combing the rest forward. Pull the wig behind the ears, about where a headband rests, and clip it into place. For extra security, use a few long bobby pins behind the ears. Style your hair so its texture matches the wig's: If the wig is curly, curl your hair; if it's straight, use a flat iron. Finally, blend your hair with the wig by brushing some strands over the demarcation line where the wig is clipped in place.
Three-quarter wig, $36 at Fifi Mahony's
What it is: A hairpiece that gives the appearance of bangs
How to install: Part your hair in the center and tease a small section of hair at the crown, where you will clip the bangs. Teasing the hair gives the clip a base to grip onto for added security. Bobby pin your natural bangs out of the way, so they don't come loose. Clip the hairpiece on top of your head and at the hairline, using its attached combs. If necessary, trim the bangs to your desired length. Headbands can conceal the line between the hairpiece and your natural hair, if it looks obvious.
Clip-in bangs by Jessica Simpson, $36 at Fifi Mahony's
GiGi Hair wires
What it is: Synthetic hair attached to three flexible wires that can be twisted and shaped into styles ranging from messy buns to disheveled ponytails.
How to install: Pull hair into a high ponytail. Extend all three hair wires to their full length, and install the comb right above the ponytail, so its teeth are situated behind the elastic. Wrap your hair around the wires, and bend them until they have the appearance you desire. For a dramatic, multi-colored look, wear two hair wires at once and entwine their wires. Secure the ends in place with bobby pins or leave them loose.
Hair wires, $20 each (two shown) at Fifi Mahony's