Knowing what type of wig to purchase or where to buy a wig from can feel really very daunting.
We have put together the following advice which will hopefully help you make good choices and avoid potential pitfalls.
If buying a wig for the first time, it’s important to try some on. There are lots of online retailers but it can really help to visit a salon or get a home visit from a mobile wig supplier and try some different styles. The style you think you want might not look like what you anticipate when you try it on. Wigs can look very different in a photo than they do on your head. Staff in wig salons can also show you how to put on your wig and ensure it fits properly. Please don’t feel that by visiting a salon you are committing to making a purchase. If you are not happy with any of the wigs you try on, say ‘No thank you’ and walk away. Too often we hear from ladies who tell us that they felt obliged to make a purchase. Think about it like this; if you went to a shop, tried on a pair of trousers and they didn’t fit or the colour wasn’t quite what you were looking for, you wouldn’t buy them would you? A wig is no different! If a salon owner is applying any pressure for you to make a purchase, they are not doing their job properly and you should try somewhere else. A good wig supplier should show you the different options available but not put any pressure on you. Choices should be your own. If you’re not happy with the customer service you are receiving, go elsewhere. As with anything, the service you receive will vary between suppliers.
Should you have any issue with a wig purchased through a salon, hopefully it will be resolved by the salon staff. If you experience any difficulties, ask for the salon’s complaints procedure and follow that. In the hopefully rare event that a problem cannot be resolved, you might find it helpful to have an understanding of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Many people buy wigs online and do not have any problems however unfortunately we are more commonly hearing from people who are experiencing problems with online retailers. The key thing is to check the seller’s refund/returns policy. All good online retailers should have a very clear returns policy which is in line with the Consumer Contracts Regulations. A wig should not be treated differently to any other item. If you decide it doesn’t suit you, you have the right to change your mind. Timescales apply for returns and wigs must be in the exact condition they were purchased in (be careful not to remove tags, ensure your face is foundation-free when trying on and take care not to expose the wig to cooking smells or cigarette smoke!). Please note, if a seller believes a wig has been worn, as opposed to simply tried on, or it's not returned in the same condition, they're within their rights to refuse a refund. If an online retailer does not have a clear returns/refund policy on their website which is line with the Consumer Contracts Regulations, we’d recommend looking for another retailer.
Another common pitfall of purchasing online is choosing a website which is not all it claims to be. Unfortunately there are a number of Chinese websites which on first glance appear to be UK retailers. We have heard from many ladies who have purchased wigs from websites in China and found the quality of the wig to be terrible (NOTHING like the photo) and full refunds impossible to obtain (often only a very small amount is offered as a refund). Things to watch for:
1. Are the website photos of models wearing wigs or of celebrities or models with their natural hair? This is usually a red flag that the products won't be what you expect. If purchasing a wig, you want to see the actual wig and not a photo of a similar style! Be very wary of wig websites that use photos of celebrities or models with their own hair. Ideally you want to see images of the wig on a model, on a mannequin head and preferably additional images of the interior of the cap.
2. Is there a clear refund/returns policy? Does it tie in with the Consumer Contracts Regulations i.e. your right to cancel an order within 14 days of delivery. Many of these Chinese sites mention returns/refunds but state that it is the seller's decision as to whether they accept a return. We recommend you avoid any seller that says this. The customer should always have the right to return a product.
3. Check the 'Contact Us' section of the website. If they are a UK seller, they will have a UK telephone number and address listed and not simply an electronic contact form to fill in.
4. Do a quick Google search for reviews of the company. Simply put the company's name followed by 'reviews' into the search bar. A reputable retailer will not have lots of bad reviews.
5. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Beware of cheap prices for human hair wigs - many find what they receive is not human hair. As a rough guide, most human hair wigs start from about £350 as a minimum.
We are not suggesting that you should only purchase wigs from UK sellers. We are aware that many people buy wigs from Worldwide companies but be particularly wary of the websites based in China. Unfortunately it’s all too common a tale that people are purchasing from these sites and receiving goods that are not the standard they’re expecting and are unable to return the products for a refund.
If you do wish to grab a bargain, many cheap wigs are available for purchase from China and other Worldwide wig sellers via eBay. By purchasing through eBay and using Paypal you are offered some protections should something go wrong and you should able to get a refund from Paypal in a worst case scenario. Similarly, if you pay for items online with a credit card, you may be able to be compensated by your credit card provider should you have a problem with a wig purchase and be unable to resolve it with the seller.
VAT exemption is available to all people who wear wigs for necessity reasons, including alopecia. When purchasing a wig, enquire if VAT is included in the price. If so, ask for a VAT exemption form. All experienced wig suppliers should be clued up on VAT exemption for those with medical hair loss. Simply speaking, those with alopecia should not be paying VAT on their wigs. Some online retailers provide the function to complete a VAT exemption online and the VAT is conveniently deducted at the checkout. Many wig salons have a smooth in-salon process for this too but unfortunately we are still hearing from ladies who are experiencing difficulties with being charged VAT on wigs. If you are in any doubt about VAT, you may wish to contact HMRC.
And finally, please remember that what is right for one person with alopecia may not be right for you. Some of us wear wigs that cost thousands of pounds, others wear wigs that cost just £30 from eBay. It’s all about finding what works for you and what helps to make you feel comfortable, confident and happy. Please don’t let anyone make you think that you need a certain type of wig to achieve this.
A small additional note of advice on ‘Hair Systems’; if choosing a hair system instead of a wig be sure to understand the initial costs of purchasing the hair system AND the ongoing maintenance costs. Ensure that you can afford all the costs involved with a hair system before agreeing to go ahead. Also, be sure you fully understand what might happen with your hair system should the severity of your alopecia change – Will it still work? Will there be further costs? For some people, hair systems are a great way of managing their alopecia. But unfortunately we still hear from people who wish they hadn’t chosen that route as it proved to be expensive or inappropriate for their type of hair loss. Doing lots of research is key!