Woman with pink hair wig on walking down the street while listening to music from her phone.

Hair wigs come in handy when you want to test different looks but don’t want to damage your locks with heat or dyes. You can be a today and have a jet-black tomorrow without hassle or regret. Then, there are partial wigs or hair extensions that you can use to add length and volume to your natural tresses. The possibilities are endless.

But wigs and hair extensions are more than just “fake hair” offering styling flexibility. For some, they’re a way of reclaiming confidence and expressing individuality. How can a simple fashion accessory wield such transformative power? Here, two women who wear hair wigs daily share their experiences.

A Hair Wig Can Be a Lifeline

In her mid-20s, Tonee was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that, among other symptoms, caused her to lose her hair. It was a double blow to her self-esteem. Not only did she have to contend with the physical challenges associated with her condition, but she also had to face the emotional turmoil of losing a significant part of her identity.

“People often downplay it, saying ‘It’s just hair,’” says Tonee. “But I remember those days of looking in the mirror and feeling sorry for the girl standing in front of me, robbed of her joy.” She knew she couldn’t stay in that rut forever, so she gathered the courage to get her confidence back. One turn of fate led her to try on a hair wig, and it was a revelation.

Her intro to wigs started with trepidation. Would it look natural? Would people notice it wasn’t her real hair? But all doubts went out the window the moment she put the wig on. “For the first time in what felt like ages, I found myself smiling at my reflection,” admits Tonee. In a lot of ways, the hairpiece became a means for her to regain a sense of normalcy and, by extension, her youth. Now, she’s , where she opens up about her hair loss journey and day-to-day activities.

There’s Pride and Satisfaction in Wearing Wigs

Cosplay fans are aware that perfecting a look requires the right outfit, , and a nice hair wig to match. No one knows this better than Karen Mae de Vera, who began collecting hairpieces to craft anime- or cartoon-inspired costumes with stunning accuracy.“It’s just more convenient to wear a wig because different characters would require specific hair colors and lengths,” she explains.

Moreover, Karen feels great accomplishment at having created something that can inspire others. “I didn’t expect the positive feedback from peers and strangers when I started posting my photos.” To her, dressing up has tremendously helped her expand her creativity and cheer her up during bad days.

Recently, Karen found herself reaching for wigs even when she was not in cosplay. Her current favorite is the blonde unit, which has always been her dream hair color. “I have always felt insecure about my thin hair and sensitive scalp. Wearing wigs has given me the to achieve any hairstyle I want without being limited by my natural hair,” she adds.

Tonee echoes this sentiment. Wigs have become her canvas for self-expression, helping her see herself in a more positive light. She shared, “[Wigs] have given me the freedom to experiment with different styles and colors – things I never would've tried with my natural hair.”

The Stigma Around Wearing Wigs

Despite the growing popularity of hair wigs, there’s still a lingering stigma surrounding their use. Both Tonee and Karen have dealt with judgment, invasive comments, and even outright hostility.

“One time I was walking with my friend outside campus when a stranger loudly asked me, ‘Ate, totoo ba yang buhok mo? Parang wig.’ I just replied, ‘Hindi po,’ and walked fast away from him,” Tonee recalls.

Karen has experienced similar encounters. Some members of her family even discouraged her from donning a wig because she was “too old” for playing dress-up. And when she’s in a full costume, she’d get stares and snickers from onlookers. “I’ve heard ‘Mukhang anime’ more than once while I’m out and about in a brightly-colored wig,” she says.

The curious eyes and questions often feel exhausting. No one should have to defend or explain why they choose to don a wig. Thankfully, both women have unwavering support from friends and families. “[The appreciation from loved ones] made me realize it’s okay to wear wigs if it makes me happy. That’s what matters most,” Tonee adds.

It’s Important to Take Breaks from Wigs

If you’re interested in trying wigs, heed Karen’s advice: let your natural strands and once in a while. The single most important thing you must do is wash your hair regularly. Otherwise, product residue (like from wig glue), sweat, and dirt can cause buildup on the scalp, which increases your risk of and .

Wash your hair with something hydrating and reparative, such as Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Shampoo. The pH-balanced formula is gentle for daily use and effective at removing flakes and maintaining the moisture level of your scalp. Follow with Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Conditioner to keep your hair soft and manageable.

There’s nothing wrong or shameful about rocking a hair wig. Instead, it grants you some type of freedom. Freedom to reinvent yourself whenever you choose. Freedom from the limitations of your natural hair. Ultimately, it helps you love yourself even more, as these two women have discovered.