Alternative Hair Glossary

1/2 wig: a partial wig or hair topper that covers ½ of the head


¾ wig: a partial wig or hair topper that covers ¾ of the top of the head only.


100% hand-tied cap: a technique in creating a wig where each individual hair or fiber are tied into a sheer material by hand to achieve the most natural look and movement of the hair


Adhesive: a substance used for attaching hair toppers and wigs to allow for extra security. Wig tape and wig glue can be used to adhere lace front wigs or hair toppers to the forehead for a smoother look


Adjustable straps: elastic straps at the nape area of a wig used for adjusting the circumference as to ensure a secure wig fit


Alopecia: an auto-immune condition which causes hair loss of the skull, facial hair, and or entire body.  Can manifest in the following:  in areas/spots (areata); Total hair loss (totalis) of the skull and facial hair; Total hair loss of the entire body (universalis)


Alopecia Areata: loss of hair in patches on the head

Alopecia Totalis: loss of all hair on the skull and facial hair


Alopecia universalis: loss of all hair on the entire body


Alterations: making structural adjustments to a wig or topper to properly fit the head


Alternative hair: a term used to describe a hair piece, hair extensions, hair toppers, or a wig. Hair in synthetic form or human hair that is worn to augment a person’s natural hair or remedy hair loss


Anagen: the active “growth” stage of the hair when the cells in the root of the hair divides and grows. This stage lasts 2-6 years depending on genetics and the hair grows approximately 1cm a month


Anagen effluvium: loss of hair associated with radiation and chemotherapy medications/treatment


Androgenetic alopecia: commonly known as male/female pattern baldness. This is the most common cause of hair loss and is naturally occurring in relation to aging or environmental pollutants


Basic Cap (also called capless, wefted, or open-cap): Basic cap wigs are the most affordable option of all wig cap constructions. The top and crown area is made of closed wefts. These are often camouflaged with a technique called perma-tease that hides the top material. With the back being constructed with open wefts, this allows for ventilation making these caps basic cap wigs are light weight and cool


Bonding: a term used in the industry to refer to the attachment of a hair system, extension, or wig, using adhesive, heat tools, and/or tape


Catagen: the “transition” stage of hair growth where the hair detaches from its blood source and stops growing.


Chemotherapy: the treatment of disease by means of chemicals that have a specific effect upon the disease producing microorganisms or that selectively destroy cancer tissue


Cicatricial alopecia (scarring): a rare condition that occurs when inflammation damages and scars hair follicles, which can cause permanent hair loss


Circumference: a measurement of the outer perimeter of the head/hairline.  This measurement is needed in order to best determine size of wig needed


Closed/traditional cap: the original construction of machine made wigs that have an interior lace material sewn to the crown of the wig


Coarse: a specific type of hair texture that has a large diameter; all three layers of hair (medulla, cortex, and cuticle) are present


Cold set: Also referred to as "box hair". When the fibers of the hair have unexpected bumps or kinks in the style. Cold set happens when the hair fibers take on the shape of the box, which crimps the fibers. You can remove cold set by using a wig steamer


Color treated hair: hair that has had any type of chemical applied that alters or covers the natural pigment


Color ring: made up of small color swatches. Manufacturers use color rings to feature all colors that are available from that brand. If you are hesitant on which color is best for you, we recommend ordering a color ring to see the color swatches in person. This way you can compare them to your own hair before making your wig or hair topper purchase 


Condition: the state of the hair’s texture, which can also describe the health of the hair


Cool tone: a possible undertone color of the skin - different from the color of the skin. To see what undertone you have, look at your veins on your wrist. If your veins appear blue or purple in color, you have a cool skin tone. It is helpful to know what undertone you have to help you decide which wig color will look best on you!


Cuticle: the outermost layers of the hair shaft. Made up of hard, shingle-like dead cells, which can be five to twelve deep, this layer provides protection to the inner layers of the hair


Cysteine bond: (also known as disulfide bond) the strand of protein bonds found in the hair strands cortex that is responsible for the curl pattern and elasticity of the hair


Denier: a unit of weight indicating the diameter of fiber of human hair.  Refers to how thick the individual strands of hair are 


Density: a measurement of how closely set together fibers or human hair are applied into a hair system. Essentially, how many hair per square inch is placed throughout the piece. Can refer to how thick the entire head of hair is


Deposit (hair color): human hair color that has little to no lifting action. Substance that makes the hair darker in color


Double drawn hair: Human hair which is used to make alternative hair pieces. This hair has been cut on both ends (generally in a ponytail), so the whole bundle of hair measure the same length and has clean cut ends


Double Monofilament Top: A layer of silk-like material on the inner side of the monofilament material of the wig or hair topper to provide comfort to the wearer


Dry shampoo: dry shampoo can be used on wigs and hair toppers to dull the shine on synthetic fiber pieces. Dry shampoo comes in aerosol and powder forms


Ear tabs: the portion of the wig that sits in front of the ear and rests near the temple. Ear tabs contain a bendable wire to adjust to the shape of the temple. Be sure to keep the tabs tucked in, instead of winging outward, for a more natural look. If you have a lace front wig, make sure you use the ear tabs to adjust the placement of your wig instead of pulling on the lace material 


Ear to ear: a measurement over the top of the head, from the hairline at the top of the ear then over the crown and over to the other hairline at the top of the ear


Emulsify: to mix, blend together


Flat-ironing: the use of a heated tool to smooth, flatten and style human hair. This is a semi-permanent effect


Follicle: a small cavity in the epidermis and corium of the skin, from which a hair develops


Front to back: a measurement starting at the center front hairline, following down the head to the back hairline at the nape


French Drawn (French knotting): 3 layers of material which allow the hand tied hair knots to be hidden and comfortable to the skin.  This provides the appearance of natural hair growth and movement


Fringe (bangs): hair that hangs in the front of the face to frame the face. Can be swept off to one side or fall straight forward


Hair Toppers: also known as top pieces. Hair toppers add volume and coverage to the top of the head. Hair toppers are not designed to provide full coverage of the head. If you need more coverage than just the front, top or crown area, a wig is the best solution


Hand Tied Cap: refers to the entire wig cap being hand tied from the monofilament top all the way to sides and back. Hand tied caps provide the most comfortable custom fit because they provide 4-way stretch. Fun fact: Creating a fully hand-tied cap wig can take one person up to 40 hours just to make just one wig 


Heat Friendly Synthetic Fiber: the “second generation” high-heat synthetic fiber that has a finer denier and smoother texture than the original high heat fiber. Also referred to as heat defiant (HD) or heat style-able fiber, which allows for styling with heat tools at a low or moderate temperature


Heat tools: blow dryers, straighteners, flat irons, curling wands, curling irons. We recommend setting your heat tools to no higher than at 270° F - 280° F when styling your heat-friendly synthetic, blended wigs, and human hair wigs


Integration: a term used to describe a type of wig or hairpiece where the wearer can pull their own hair through the base and integrate with the fiber


Kanekalon fiber: a petroleum by-product based synthetic fiber used throughout the alternative hair industry for hair pieces and wigs


Knot(s): how the hair is hand tied and secured into the fine lace material of a lace front or monofilament top


Lace front: the front portion of a hair topper or wig where the hair is hand tied into a lace material, giving the illusion of naturally growing hair at the front hairline. Lace fronts can come ready-to-wear, which means you don’t have to cut the lace back yourself. Since the lace front is made with a very delicate lace material be mindful and treat it delicately. Avoid pulling or stretching it out as this will make your lace front pucker and not lay flat against the head


Length: the actual measurement of the hair from the scalp to the tip ends


Lift (hair color): hair color/lightener that lightens the color of the hair


Machine wefted wig/wefted wig, machine back wig: a term(s) used to describe a wig that has some or all construction made up of wefts sewn together


Mannequin head: Made of styrofoam, rubber, or canvas and cork, mannequin heads mimic the the shape and are ideal to use for styling wigs


Medulla: the innermost layer of the hair that is part of the body’s excretory system, having no effect or function to the hair


Melanin: natural color pigment of the hair and skin 


Monofilament part: a section on the top of a wig where the part is visible, where the fibers/hairs are tied in to a sheer material resulting in the most natural looking part 


Monofilament top: the monofilament technique includes a section of soft mesh material where the hair is hand or machine tied in to give the illusion of natural hair growth and the most natural look available in alternative hair.  The hair can be hand tied and knotted in singles or pairs. This technique creates the illusion that the hair is growing directly out of the scalp and also allows you to part the top of your style in the area that works best for you. The super sheer material is nearly invisible under the hair and highly breathable. This is a time consuming and costly technique to craft alternative hair so this feature generally increases the cost to the wigs or hair toppers


Multi-directional knotting: a term used to describe hair that has been hand-tied onto the base of a hair system or wig, can be styled in multiple direction


Nape: the area of the wig that lays on the back of your neck


Natural hair color: the natural level and tone of hair before any chemical service


Neutral tone: a possible undertone color of the skin - different from the color of the skin. To see what undertone you have, look at your veins on your wrist. If your veins appear to be a blend of blue, purple, and green in color, you have a neutral skin tone. It is helpful to know what undertone you have to help you decide which wig color will look best on you!


Non-Remy: human hair collected from multiple sources that cannot guarantee the root and tip ends are traveling in the same direction. The cuticle is partially removed to prevent tangling and inversion of the hair


Open cap/cap less: a weft based wig with open ventilation throughout. The top portion of the cap does not have a second layer of material covering the wefts so the wearer is cooler


Open ear tabs: ear tabs that do not have a velvet lining


Paraben: esters of para-hydroxybenzoic, widely used as preservatives in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Most commonly used parabens are: methylparaben, ethylparaben, and propylparaben


Piecey: When the fibers are grouped together and slightly separated to create a hairstyle with a textured or tousled effect


Pinking shears: shears that have notched blades for cutting, finishing cutting technique that provides a notched and non-fraying edge


Porous (porosity): a term used to refer to and describe the level in which hair can absorb liquid. Hair that is considered to be “porous” tends to have had extensive processing and will absorb hair color and other liquids rapidly


Polyurethane (PU): a thermoplastic polymer used as a base material in hair systems and wigs, either fully or partially throughout the base, allowing the base to be bonded


Pressure sensitive clips (toupee clips): coated metal clips that are used to attach extensions, toppers, and wigs to existing natural hair


PU ear tabs (poly-U, polyurethane): a portion of the inside of the ear tab of a wig that has polyurethane to allow wig tape or adhesive to be applied


Pull through base: a hair addition piece that has openings in between the wefts to allow existing natural hair to be pulled through and integrated in the piece


Radiation: a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells


Remy: The method of cutting and collecting human hair that is uniformly aligned with root ends and tip ends always running in the same direction, which mimics our natural biological hair.  Generally results in a better look and feel of the hair if the hair is of high quality 


Return: the extra hair length that is left when the finished length of a hand tied fiber is attached to the base. In the monofilament top section of a piece, you can expect a 4” - 6” return while the rest of the cap features a 4” return. This is for optimal quality and ease of styling.  Shorter returns can result in the appearance of fly-aways on the hair piece


Root: the part of the hair that is embedded in the follicle within the scalp. Also, a term used to describe the first 1”-2” of outgrowth of the hair from the head


Section: a specific area of the head that is isolated by parting


Single drawn hair: refers to the length of hair within a weft that has been cut from one end only, which means there are varying lengths of hair (i.e. 16” hair may have 12”, 14”, and 16”)


Steamer (wig steamer): a device used to change the style memory of synthetic fiber by emitting steam. Also recommended to use when smoothly excessive frizz from heat-friendly synthetic fiber


Strand test: a test performed toward the back of the human hair system prior to a chemical service. The product is applied to a small section of hair to determine processing time, any stress or damage to the hair as well as the hair’s ability to withstand the chemicals being used


Style memory: every synthetic wig has its “style” baked into it, whether it is curled or straight, once washed it goes back to its original style


Sulfate: salts of sulfuric acid, found commonly in shampoos and cleaners to create “suds" and foaming. The most commonly used are sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate


Swatches: a small section of hair used as a sample for color, texture, and/or fiber. Online, a swatch is the sample image of what the color of the wig will look like


Synthetic: a term used to describe a commonly used fiber in the industry. Synthetic fibers are made to have style memory and require much less maintenance than human hair or high heat fibers


Synthetic Fiber: a nylon based synthetic fiber used to create wigs, hair extensions, or hair toppers and pieces.  One of the original fibers in the alternative hair industry as a more cost effective and lower maintenance option to human hair


System, “hair system”: a term used to refer to a partial or full cap hair piece, wig or extension of alternative hair


T-pin(s): Similar to a sewing pin, a t-pin features a perpendicular bar at the top so that the pin cannot puncture a surface completely. We recommend using t-pins to secure your wig or hair topper to a mannequin head when blow drying or heat styling. Note: when using t-pins, make sure not to puncture any lace or monofilament material as to not damage the delicate material


Telogen: the final stage of hair growth, the hair is considered “dead” and is being pushed out of the epidermis by the newly forming hair below it


Telogen effluvium: a type of hair loss that is believed to be caused by emotional and/or physical stress to the body. Hair will usually grow back after the conditions that caused it corrects itself


Textile-like dye: a dye that is used throughout the alternative hair industry; applied to human hair during processing in the factory to ensure that the color will not fade. We do not recommend coloring or using any other chemical process over this type of dye


Texture: the pattern of curl or feel of the hair, i.e. fine, medium, coarse


Texturizing (thinning) shears: a type of hair cutting scissor that is used to eliminate and remove “weight” or “density” from the hair. The spacing between the teeth of the blades allow only a certain percentage of hair to be removed with every closure of the blade


“Top of head” point: the point on the top of the head that is determined by measuring seven inches back from the front hairline. Used in establishing the “ear to ear” head measurement


Traction alopecia: hair loss believed to be caused by a pulling force being applied to the hair


Trichotillomania: the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair leading to noticeable hair loss, can be caused by distress, social impairment or functional impairment


Velvet ear tabs: the soft lining on the inside of the ear tabs of a wig, the portion of the wig that sits in front of the ear


Ventilate (hair/fiber): the act of hand-tying hair or fiber to a wig or hair topper base; a specific tool/needle is used


Virgin hair: natural human hair that has not been chemically altered in any way


Volume: a term used to describe the hair height from the head


Warm tone: a possible undertone color of the skin - different from the color of the skin. To see what undertone you have, look at your veins on your wrist. If your veins appear green in color, you have a warm skin tone. It is helpful to know what undertone you have to help you decide which wig color will look best on you!


Weft: a sorted bundle of hair that is sewn together with several stitches to make a single “curtain-like” veil of hair


Welded lace: thin synthetic fibers running in a grid pattern that are ultrasonically heated and fused together

Wide-tooth comb: a comb that has a wider spacing between its teeth, helpful for detangling any fiber. It is the ONLY tool recommended to be used on heat-friendly synthetic fiber


Wig Band: A wig band is similar to a headband as it is made of soft, thin fabric, but you wear a wig band under your wig. Wig bands can help reduce wig cap pressure and can keep your wig from sliding on your head


Wig cap liner:  Made of nylon, mesh, or bamboo, wig cap liners can help keep your wigs clean by creating a buffer between your wigs and the oils on your scalp. Liners also help ensure that your hair is properly secured under your wig for a comfortable wearing experience


Wig Stand: Made of plastic or metal, a wig stands are easily assembled to mimic the shape of the head. Wig stands can be used for short and long-term storage of wigs. We also recommend letting your synthetic wigs drip-dry overnight on a wig stand after washing since they allow air ventilation