Women working out in wigs

How to exercise in a wig: 3 women on how they avoid their wigs slipping at the gym

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If you wear a wig, you’ll know only too well how stressful the thought of it slipping in public can be. That risk is greater at the gym. So, how can you avoid any mishaps?

There was only one thought going through Temi Ojo’s mind when she anxiously made her way to the gym: would her wig fall off? It was her first time wearing a wig to the gym and she had little faith in the method she’d used to secure it in place. The fear that her hair would move or slip was overwhelming.

“I was worried that it might slip back and leave me adjusting it constantly throughout my session,” she tells Stylist. Ojo started wearing wigs at 18 after deciding that braids were too much hassle (who has nine hours to sit having their hair pulled and platted?).

Luckily, the wig didn’t fall off – at least, not then. Ojo recalls the moment her wig did move mid-exercise; she was in the middle of a set of cable crunches when she began to feel her hair slip from the nape of her neck to the crown of her head. “It completely flipped over while still staying attached to my head,” she said.

While the gym was near-empty with few people around, it was still a moment that made her skin crawl. Ojo made sure that it was the first and last time that would ever happen to her. 

Mishaps are common for women who work out in wigs. Dana Tate ,39, had a similar experience happen to her after turning to wigs following an eight-year battle with androgenetic alopecia – but she hasn’t allowed it to hold her back from pursuing her fitness goals.

Tate shaved her head as “a literal and symbolic way of taking control of my hair loss and becoming myself again”. She says: “It seems extreme, but this route was the best for my mental health.” Her first day working out with the wig was awkward as she had to get used to having hair again, but when the wig didn’t budge, her confidence grew: “I felt like myself, which made it easier to be present in my workout.”

Tate received an outpouring of love online after sharing her story with her followers. However, it was the support that she received from her trainer that gave her the confidence she needed to put her all into exercising. “I will never forget how respectful and encouraging my trainer was about the whole thing,” she explains. “It was because of that insane love and support that I was able to walk into my gym excited to wear my new hair.” 

A few days later, she found herself in a situation like Ojo’s, except this time, it happened on a foam roller. As Tate was rolling out, her ponytail got stuck underneath the roller and her wig was pulled off her head. Again, no one noticed – despite Tate feeling like the whole world had witnessed what had just happened.

How to workout with a wig

To avoid future incidents, Ojo has crafted a method to make sure that her wig is always secure by using a headband, clips, and Velcro. She advises having a dedicated wig for working out. “Look into headband wigs that have Velcro at the back that you can strap down,” she suggests. She also advises using claw clips to ensure that the hair stays out of your face while working up a sweat.

Belfast-native Niamh Mandeville started to lose her hair in 2014 due to alopecia areata and began wearing wigs in 2017. This form of alopecia is when the body attacks its own hair follicles and can cause hair loss anywhere on the body. “The patches became too large to hide and wearing a wig made me feel more comfortable,” she explains.

In the beginning, Mandeville was paranoid that her wig would move about and fall off. “I constantly kept checking it hadn’t,” she says. But, using Schwarzkopf’s Got2Be Glued to secure her wig has helped ease that worry; all she has to do now is spray it onto her hairline and hold the wig in place until the ‘glue’ has dried. That simple solution has allowed Mandeville to continue playing sports with her friends without fear of slippage.

Wigs are confidence-boosting – when they stay in place

Wigs have become big business in recent years and a report estimated that by 2023 the global wig market is expected to reach $10 billion (£7bn). No longer an accessory exclusively for older women, they’re being bought up by people who want to protect their natural hair, who want a dramatically new hairstyle and, of course, those who live with hair loss.

Amy Johnson, operations manager at Alopecia UK tells Stylist: “Many people with alopecia use wigs to live confidently with their hair loss. It can be difficult for some people to adjust to the change in appearance that alopecia brings, and it can be particularly difficult to have a visible difference that makes you stand out from the crowd.” Wigs, she says, can boost confidence in wearers. 

And it’s because of the impact wigs can have on our wellbeing, that it’s so important to curb any slippage anxiety. As these women prove, there are lots of simple tricks to sweating comfortably in a wig – and should the worst happen and it does move, most of the time, no one is looking.

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Images: Dana Tate/Temi Ojo

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