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Why Do Black Women Wear Wigs? | An Explainer

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why do Black women wear wigs?” We’re here to provide some explanation for this culturally-nuanced beauty practice.

Why Do Black Women Wear Wigs?

Black women may choose to wear wigs for various reasons, including but not limited to the expression of style, ease of haircare, societal pressure, and cultural pride.

Of course, not all Black women wear wigs. But it is common to see Black women wearing all sorts of wig types — from traditional to modern, simple to complex, natural to synthetic, and beyond.

Additionally, non-Black women may choose to wear wigs for various reasons. But since Black people have beautiful, strong, and typically very curly hair, you might have questioned why they would ever want to cover it up.

This article will share more insight and perspective into this particular hair choice so that you may better understand why Black women may prefer wigs over maintaining, styling, or exposing their natural locks.

1. Expression of Style

For many Black women, wigs are about more than just hair, and hair is more than just an afterthought. Hair is culture, style, fashion, and art. And wigs can be used as a way to express their individuality.

This is why some Black women wear wigs as a form of self-expression. They may want to try out a new look or style without commitment. Or they might want to experiment with different colors, textures, and lengths that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do with their natural hair.

Wigs provide versatility and freedom when it comes to expressing yourself through your hair. And for some women, that’s exactly what they want.

2. Ease of Haircare

Another reason Black women may choose to wear wigs is because of the protection, ease, and convenience they offer.

Hair Protection

Black hair — or in more technical terms, 4A4C hair — tends to be prone to dryness, brittleness, and breakage. Wigs offer an extra layer of protection for natural Black hair, which is often vulnerable to product and environmental damage, especially when it’s not cared for properly.

Easy Style Changes

Wigs give African American women a unique opportunity to change their hairstyle as often as they’d like without worrying about the damaging effects of chemicals or heat styling.

So if a Black woman wants a completely different texture for a certain outfit, event, or overall look, they can forget trying to straighten their natural hair with chemicals or heating tools, both of which can permanently damage 4A- 4C hair over time.

Saving Time

Additionally, wigs offer an alternative to spending time trying to manage one’s hair in the morning. For Black women with naturally kinky or curly hair, the process of detangling and styling can be time-consuming. Wigs can save them a lot of time and effort in the mornings.

3. Societal Pressure, Prejudice, and Discrimination

Unfortunately, in today’s society, there is still an unfortunate amount of pressure, prejudice, and discrimination against Black people and their natural hair.

In workplacesschools, and other professional settings, there are often unrealistic and racist expectations for Black people to represent a more “conventional” or “acceptable” look to white people and society at large.

This often means that Black people are expected to straighten their hair or wear it in a way that makes it appear like they have straight hair.

While this level of discrimination has been addressed more openly in recent years with equality as the goal, it is still a problem in some settings. This type of pressure can be extremely damaging and detrimental to one’s self-esteem and mental health.

Circumventing Standards

Wearing wigs can be a way for Black women to circumvent these unfair and unrealistic standards and expectations.

Of course, if you are not racist and ignorant yourself, it might seem frustrating to see Black women having to go to these lengths just to feel accepted in society or “going along” with expectations embedded in racism.

But the unfortunate reality is that this is still the world we live in.

Additionally, you should still not assume that because a Black woman is wearing a wig, they are doing so because of societal pressure or influence. As this article details, there are various reasons why they may make that stylistic choice.

4. Cultural Pride

Finally, for some Black women, wearing wigs is a way to connect with their cultural heritage and African roots. Wigs have been a part of traditional African culture for centuries, beginning in Ancient Egypt, and they are still worn by many African women today.

For Black women who have migrated to other parts of the world, wearing wigs can be a way to feel closer to their culture and African roots.

African Hairstyle Wigs

It can also be a way to pridefully celebrate their Blackness, beauty, and culture. People often think about wigs with straight or wavy hair, resembling Caucasian, Asian, or Latino natural hair.

However, Black women might want to switch up their look and rock a curlier, kinkier hairstyle and get a curly or kinky wig to do so.

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Frequently Asked Questions

For a piece titled Why Do Black Women Wear Wigs, a woman with a silver wig crosses her arms and blows a bubble

Ekaterina Jurkova/Shutterstock

If you’re still unsure about why Black women wear wigs, here are some answers to frequently asked questions on the subject.

Do wigs or weaves make Black women “unnatural”?

No, wearing wigs and weaves does not make a Black woman “unnatural.” Black women have been wearing wigs and weaves for centuries as part of their cultural heritage.

Plus, any single synthetic stylistic choice does not make someone unnatural. To some women, regardless of race, wearing a wig, weave, or extensions is simply another form of accessorizing.

Are wigs low-maintenance?

The level of maintenance a wig requires depends on the type of wig you choose to wear. For example, synthetic wigs will require less maintenance than human hair wigs.

You can style human hair wigs just like your own hair, requiring regular shampooing, conditioning, and heat-styling.

On the other hand, synthetic wigs cannot be heat-styled and usually only need to be brushed and styled periodically. There are also lace-front wigs, which take skill and patience to put on correctly but look very natural.

Do all Black women wear wigs or weaves?

No, not all Black women wear wigs or weaves. Many Black women choose to wear their natural hair or style it in different ways. Wigs and weaves are simply one option among many for Black women regarding hairstyles.

Why do Black women wear wigs or weaves?

There are many reasons Black women might choose to wear wigs or weaves. Some do it for practical reasons, while others for cultural or aesthetic reasons. There is no single answer to this question.

Are wigs or weaves bad for Black women’s hair?

No, wigs and weaves are not necessarily bad for Black women’s hair. However, it is important to take proper care of your hair, regardless of what style you choose to wear. This includes washing, conditioning, and protecting your hair from heat damage.

So, Why Do Black Women Wear Wigs?

In summary, Black women may choose to wear wigs for several reasons. Some women may like the styles of wigs.

Some may want to save time on their hair; others may want to protect their natural hair from the heat and chemicals it would take to change their look, while prejudiced societal standards influence some.

And remember, there are an unlimited number of reasons why an individual might want to wear wigs, similar to any stylistic or cosmetic choice. In any case, we’re all for whatever makes you happy and confident!