John+Galliano+Spring+SummerWigs and hair pieces have been a staple fixture on designer catwalks for years. John Galliano wigged out both male and female models to the extreme in his SS09 show recently, with over the top head pieces. So far the trend has stayed on the comfortably outrageous setting of designer runways with the only major foray into the outside world being at tacky hen parties and when the fancy dress box is raided. Lately though the fashion wheel has turned and artificial hair is hitting the style headlines. Harrods and Selfridges reported a huge increase in sales of wigs over the 2008 Christmas and New Year period and now summer’s here the trend has really gathered pace.

Lily Allen has been photographed in a huge array of wigs lately from blond bombshell to the purple tresses she sported on stage at Glastonbury. Lady GaGa is, of course, another champion of the trend with her signature platinum blonde wig. The trend has even made it onto the pages of fashion bible Harpers Bazaar Magazine. The publication recently conducted a “style experiment” with popular US reality star Lauren Conrad. She donned a brunette wig over her Californian blonde tresses for a day to discover if her legion of fans would recognise her. So why the sudden fake hair following? It’s worth noting that this look has taken hold in the middle of an economic downturn. Whereas expensive hair extensions were all the rage just a few years ago the fashion conscious are now opting for a cheaper and less permanent way of changing their look.

Wigs are perfect for a quick fix at this time of year. Bad hair days are commonplace with the summer sun playing havoc with our locks. And who can be bothered to turn on the blowdryer and hair straighteners in the balmy weather? Festivals and holidays are a great place to try out a wig for the first time. We’re more relaxed and in great spirits when we’re away from the daily grind, so reflect the mood with a daring change in style. Go crayon coloured like Lily with a rave-inspired look or use wigs to test out the style you’ve always craved but never been brave enough to try. According to top stylist Richard Ward the bob style wig is proving to be the most popular at the moment. With a heavy, blunt fringe this look can be hard to pull off but is probably why so many are choosing the style as it’s the ideal way to try the look without the long term commitment.

glastonbury 7 260609There are two options when it comes to how your wig is made- synthetic or real hair. Synthetic wigs cost from around £20/€23 to £100/€115 and you can expect to pay over £200/€215  for real hair. The key is that you do get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a wig for a week or two of partying synthetic is fine. Natural wigs need be styled and often treated by a stylist before they can be worn. Like your normal hair they can then be blow-dried and straightened whereas it’s often hard to do this with synthetic pieces as most styling results in frizz galore!

Natural wigs are not only expensive but there is also a whole host of ethical issues surrounding them. There has long been talk about how many human hair products are made from hair taken variously from the dead, prisoners or from young girls offering their hair as a sacrifice in return for good fortune in third world countries. Most of the women involved in sacrificial rituals don’t know that their hair is going to be sold on and many of them only earn the equivalent of a few pounds whereas their hair is sold at vastly inflated prices. It is very hard to determine whether the products you buy are ethically sound as many suppliers can claim their hair is from an ethical source and that they pay a fair price but there is often no independent verification of these claims available. In addition some suppliers cannot guarantee the origin of their hair as it is purchased from a third party and not sourced directly.

The hair extensions market has been catching on to the demand for ethically sourced hair for a while now. One such company is Great Lengths. The company sources and processes all their products meaning they can guarantee the origin, journey and treatment of the hair. The hair is sourced from the Hindu Indian temple Tirumala where the traditional religious ceremony of ‘tonsuring’ is carried out. braided_headbandEntire families make the pilgrimage to the temple and volunteer to have their hair shaven off as an offer of thanksgiving, often taking place before or after a momentous, joyful event. The hair is then legitimately sold to Great Lengths and employees based in India ensure that the money which is given to the Temple is funnelled directly back into the local community to fund medical aid, educational systems and other crucial infrastructure projects. You can check their website for a list or salons where their hair is used.

Despite these changes in the extensions industry it is still difficult to source human hair wigs and clip in pieces that you are sure are ethically sourced. Therefore the best advice is to go synthetic unless you are absolutely certain of the product’s origin.

Hothair.co.uk has some great on trend styles at a variety of prices. They also have some pretty braided headbands which tap into this season’s trend for face framing tightly wound plaits. Also popular on this site and others are the clip-in fringes. They can be cut and styled to suit and then simply layered over your hair for an instant flattering fringe.

Voguewigs.com stocks synthetic wigs as well as hair pieces and clip in extensions that can be shipped worldwide. The Pizazz Fantasy Costume Wig by Revlon is perfect for channelling the Lily Allen look.