I needed to transform a curly synthetic wig (below left) into a straight one (below right) to prepare it for additional alterations.
I know a few ways to straighten and smooth synthetic hair:
- Dunk it in really hot water. This can be the fastest method but leaves a big watery mess when I do it.
- Use a steam iron. (The same kind of steam iron you use to get wrinkles out of clothes.) I love this method. It adds moisture (Not sure that makes a difference except to make me feel good) and is fairly easy to do: just apply the steam down the length of the hair and follow with a comb. Unfortunately, I only had access to a travel steamer that was inadequate for the job.
- Use the flatiron you might normally use to straighten your own hair. This is what I ended up doing. It was fairly quick and got the job done with minimal mess.
Flatiron Use on Synthetic Hair
To use a flatiron on synthetic hair, you have to use the lowest heat setting available on the flatiron. High temperatures melt synthetic hair. The image below left is the flatiron I used. Below right shows that 300F is the lowest temperature available on it. To play it safe, I tested a small piece of the hair to be straightened. It looked weird at first, as if the hair melted slightly or got oily. Once it cooled and I ran a brush through it, it was fine.
Comb or Brush Each Section
I separated the hair into random small tresses (below left) but a more methodical approach could be taken. Going track by track on a wig, for example.
When encountering snags, snarls, and knots, use a light touch or risk making a bigger problem. Work from the bottom up. Use the pointed end of a rattail comb to help tease out stubborn knots.
It helps to apply slight tension on the hair when flat ironing. This is what I did:
- Placed a comb at the top of a small, snag-free section of hair. A brush could have been used instead.
- Pulled the comb away from the wig skullcap to make enough room to engage the heated flatiron around the taut hair.
- Pulled the comb and flatiron together down the section of hair (below left). Repeat the procedure on each section as needed. It depends on how picky you need to be. Below right shows the section after straightening.
I continued straightening small sections of hair until the entire wig was done.