All photos by Krista, collaged by Jao.

Photo of Krista Burton collaged by Jao San Pedro.

“Pretty hair.”

I turned around, wiping my hands on my apron. A woman was smiling at me across the counter at the café where I worked. She could not be talking to me. I cut my hair myself, and it was spiky, partially shaved, and severely asymmetrical. My hand went involuntarily to the top of my head. OH, RIGHT. THE PONYTAIL. I suppressed a laugh.

The day before, I bought an ostentatiously long clip-on ponytail from Walgreens on an 11-dollar whim. The hairpiece was patently fake: It nearly grazed my buttcheeks and was unrealistically thick, with a Disney princess–esque curl at the end. That night, I gave it a spin. I pranced around the house, talked in a breathy voice, and swung my new ponytail violently to make my roommates laugh. In the morning, I wore my ponytail to work, thinking my coworkers would get a similar kick out of it.

But, really? This was NO JOKE. The thing was: It matched my hair color exactly, as my customer confirmed. The woman at the counter gestured to my hair again. “It’s really beautiful,” she said. “So healthy.”

I couldn’t help laughing this time. “It’s a —”

Suddenly, I paused. I had been about to tell her it was a fake ponytail, but then…I didn’t. Instead, I swung the ponytail over my shoulder and stroked it proprietarily, as if I’d been cultivating it for years.

“…It’s a bit hot in the summer,” I finished. “But thanks!” I walked away to get the mop, and so began My Life With Wigs. I have never looked back.

Indigo Nelson wrote a fantastic guide to the HOWs of applying wigs earlier this month on Rookie, and now I’m here to follow that up with the WHOAs of why you really should test it out for yourself. Clip-on ponytails, half-wigs, full wigs, hairpieces—I love all sorts of temporary fake hair with a passion that knows no limits or reason. You know what’s better than waking up and doing your hair (whatever “doing your hair” means to you)? Waking up, clapping on a hairpiece, and sauntering out the door with a finished look you didn’t have to do any hard work on. Good morning, world!

Want to see how you’d look with platinum hair? Try a wig. Want to have bouncy curls or stick-straight bangs in five seconds with no effort? Grab a wig! Wanna get a second free Slurpee on 7-Eleven Free Slurpee Day due to tricking people into thinking you are actually a dazzling cartoon unicorn who deserves extra technicolor sustenance? LET’S GO HOME AND GET A WIG, EH? Wigs are amazing and fun: They let you change your whole vibe with zero commitment.

Here is what I look like IRL:


Here’s what I look like in a few of my wigs. All of these pics were taken on the same day, and I’ve done nothing different to myself in any of them, except for adding black eye liner, slightly darkening my eyebrows, and/or changing my lip color in a few cases:

The funnest, sweatiest hour I’ve ever spent in my bathroom.

The funnest, sweatiest hour I’ve ever spent in my bathroom.

Hello, mystery woman!! Wigs make you look soooo different. The best part is: They don’t even have to be expensive! While there are higher-quality wigs that might break the bank, there are also a TON of cheap (think $9 to $40), realistic-looking, colorful, and just plain awesome hairpieces out there.

To get a wig, you can either go to a real-life wig store (I cannot recommend Sunny’s Hair in Minneapolis enough), where the staff will usually let you buy or borrow a wig cap and try on a succession of hairdos in-store. (Bonus: Wig stores are wonderfully eerie, with all those heads staring down at you…) Or you can do what I often end up doing: Stay up super late and cruise through the more than bountiful wig offerings on eBay. For $14, you can wake up and look like a whole different person.

Once your dream wig is in your hot li’l mitts, there are only a few things you need to know to pull off a wig look successfully.

Secure that ish.

Buy a wig cap (they usually cost between 50 cents and $1) to pull over your head before you put on your wig. If you have longer hair, twist up your hair and tuck it inside your wig cap. Caps keep your real hair from escaping and snaking out, unbidden, from beneath your wig. Once your cap is on, you will look like a toned-down baby Conehead, which is just a bonus.

Put the wig on so it fully covers the wig cap. You don’t want this hairstyle to move around, so secure your new hair: Many wigs come with a tiny elastic belt and hooks in the back—clip the belt together to keep your wig in one spot on your head. Whether your wig has the belt/hooks or no: A bunch of bobby pins, artfully connecting the wig and the wig cap underneath the hair part, always help. You can also use bobby pins to style your wig into the shape you want.

Distract the eye.

If your wig or hairpiece doesn’t look quiiiite natural, or is not exaaaactly the same color as your hair, it doesn’t matter! If you’d like to make them look more seamless, though, you can draw people’s eyes to what you want them to see. If the hairline looks synthetic, tie a cute scarf around your hair, or add a headband or barrettes where the seam shows. If the color doesn’t totally match your hair, add a slouchy hat to put some distance between where your fake new pony and your real hair meet. Here is a clip-on blond ponytail that is about two shades lighter than my real hair:

You too can look like a unicorn!

You too can look like a unicorn!

You can’t really tell my fake and real hair don’t match because the hat breaks everything up. Distract the eye and sashay away!

Turn it up.

Wigs look GREAT when paired with a little extra cosmetic oomph. If you wear makeup, try putting a bit more on than you normally would. You could go for a bright lipstick or eye shadow shade, or do a big cat-eye look. You could also add your most unique sunglasses, or a pair of large earrings. Wigs are drama, dahling, even if the “drama” is just you having fantasy hair for a day.

Have fun!

Walk around like your wig is your hair! And if someone asks you, “Is that your real hair?” First of all, that’s none of their business, and second of all, feel free to say “YES!” and flip your wig with attitude! After all: You do own it, so, yes, IT’S TOTALLY “YOUR” HAIR. And it looks A+. ♦