Wigs have come a really long way since the 17th century days of perukes worn by aristocratic English men and later by Italian women during the High Renaissance.
Today we're living in a time where wigs are not symbols of wealth, but rather a means for women of colour to not only enjoy different hairstyles, but to protect their natural hair underneath.
But before wigs became all the rage, weaves were dominating the hair industry in South Africa. A recent City Press article broke down all the commercial trends of the black hair industry. A booming one indeed.
In it, Gugulethu Mhlungu drops the following stats about the global hair care market: "South Africa’s black hair care industry is estimated to be valued at R9.7 billion a year, and was in 2010 considered to be the largest in Africa by The Professional Hair Care Market SA 2010 report."
One can safely assume that these figures have since increased considerably.
Along with hair relaxer creams, hair extensions are the largest financial contributor to the hair market, as was also mentioned in the City Press analysis. Human hair extensions from India, Peru, and Brazil in particular.
However, while Indian, Peruvian, Brazilian, and even Malaysian hair may still be in demand, South African women are no longer that interested in sewing these exotic tresses into their own.
Wigs are now considered the more convenient, cost-effective and healthier option.
The other thing about wigs is the fact that they're also made to create the illusion of a natural hairline and scalp which means you're less likely to experience the same glitches you do with weaves.
Cringe moments such as your tracks showing when it's windy, dandruff, traction alopecia or the hair texture beef (natural versus silky) happening on your head.
I spoke to two hair extension enthusiasts who also have their fair share of grievances about weaves:
Uhuru Plaatjies, prefers wigs without a doubt.
Her reason for this is that "for a lot of people, including [herself] have some issues with hair growing and sometimes a sew-in weave can heavily affect that. So with a wig [she] can let natural hair grow and breathe without putting too much pressure on it."
She goes on to say, "Wigs are cost effective because it’s basically a once-off payment. You will either pay for a wig or the hair bundles then make one out of the hair. After that all you really have to pay for is your own hair care."
Natasha Mabuto, strongly agrees.
She is officially done with weaves for the following reasons:
- My edges were snatched (literally), the hair band that was sewn in with my plaits and weave all around the head, overtime pulled at my hairline; as the hair underneath was growing out.
- The weave can become terribly itchy. With a wig, I can take it off, scratch and soothe my scalp, and put it back on.
- Treating your natural hair and maintaining it is easier with a wig, cause it’s an “on” and “off” situation.
- A wig is convenient and cost effective.
I also got in touch with The Belle Boutique hair ambassador, Khensani Canca.
This is what she had to say:
"Having a weave can get annoying especially now that it's summer. It can get too hot and taking a weave off isn't as instant as taking a wig off.
With a wig you can change it everyday and just remove it when you get home or at the mall bathroom when it gets too overwhelming. Plus, different hairstyles go with different outfits.
It's all about versatility.
I also think wigs last longer because you don't sleep with it on. You take it off at night, brush it then place on a wig stand or wherever you can.
Weaves get tangled and just require more effort."
So then, is this the end of an era for sew-in weaves?
While it's clear that hair bundle sales have definitely not declined, it seems that hair appointments for weave installations are no longer as popular.
But what are we buying these bundles for if not for a weave? To make more wigs, of course!
Yep, more salons are now offering wig construction services, where you purchase hair bundles and a closure and they make your wig of choice for you.
It's therefore safe to say that if you want to save your hairline, your scalp and your money, it's best you add that wig to your cart right now.
And we all know there's nothing better than getting home after a long day and just tossing your wig across the room. Something you definitely can't do with a sew-in weave.