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Faking It

Easy-to-use Hairpieces, Including Faux Falls, Bangs And Beehives, Let You Put On Hairs Without Wigging Out


Melissa Martinez changes her hairstyle almost as often as she changes clothes. One day she's sporting an Audrey Hepburn updo, and the next she's wearing a long "I Dream of Jeannie" fall.

In the blink of a fake eyelash, she can go from blond to brunet and back again, thanks to easy-to-use wigs and hairpieces.

"I love beehives, and I love high hair," says Martinez, a 29-year-old Laguna Beach resident who considers her natural ash-brown bob "not much of a style."

"I've done short, curly Latin looks and I've done contrasting falls," she says. "I've worn wigs to work and to parties. You feel you're wearing a disguise. You can act a different way and really make an entrance. It's a fantasy."

Wigs and hairpieces of all kinds--including faux falls, bangs and beehive enhancers--have become a hot accessory. While wigs used to be worn primarily by the older set, now women in their 20s and even younger have discovered that fake 'dos are fun at parties.

"In the past, people were almost wig-phobic," Martinez says. "Now, girls are starting to get into it."

Not since the '60s, stylists say, has fake hair been so fashionable. The '70s, with its emphasis on the natural look, ruined wigs for all but women who needed them to enhance or hide thinning hair. As fuller hair and updos make a comeback in the '90s, women are again wigging out.

"I'm doing a lot of really high ponytails and Princess Leia buns. It's the whole 'Star Wars' thing," says Julio Hernandez, stylist at Crew Salon in the Lab in Costa Mesa. "Some women are clipping on falls or wearing a longer [fake] bang that sweeps across the forehead."

Hairpieces, which are more popular than full-on wigs, allow women to try different personas without changing their real hair.

"They're the ultimate accessory," Hernandez says. "They empower certain women. If I put a long fall on a woman, she becomes this diva."

At a recent "Gone With the Wind" gala for the Huntington Harbour Cancer League, many would-be Scarletts sported long, curly hair extensions. Bonnie Subnick wore a mass of brown curls streaked with blond piled on her head. She created the updo by adding two hair extensions to her chin-length locks.

"I wanted to wear something different from what everybody else was wearing," says Subnick, a stylist with Salon Tesoro in Huntington Beach.

Many women such as Martinez have grown tired of cutting and coloring their hair every time they want a different look.

"They can clip on a short bang if they don't want to cut their hair or add longer bangs to short bangs they already have," Martinez says. "If you want that ['60s] bump in the back, you can put a hair clip under your hair. A lot of girls are into little beehive looks with full Audrey Hepburn streaks. It's something they never thought they'd get into."

Unlike the '60s, when women worried if their wigs didn't look natural, today's wig wearers don't care if their hairpieces look frankly fake. Many won't even try to match a fall to their natural hair. They might add a blond fall to a brunet bob, or clip in streaks of black hair into naturally light tresses.

Some girls use hairpieces to add streaks of orange, purple or other neon colors, but that punk look is already being upstaged by more natural, glamorous styles, Martinez says.

"They're using more tonal accents. They'll pop in a red sweep with reddish-brown hair, or if you have blond hair, you can go with platinum as a pop," she says.

Dramazine, a fashion catalog produced by Martinez, featured models wearing as many as five different colored hairpieces at once in its recent issue. Dramazine carries hairpieces called Dessert Toppings at three for $30 or Vamp Wigs for $48.

"We're letting women know that you can get a lot of the looks in fashion magazines with wigs," Martinez says.

It's also easier for women to duplicate the looks created by magazine or movie stylists. The wigs and hairpieces today are easier to use than the stiff fake hair of the '60s.

Says Rudy Chavira Jr., stylist and co-owner of Studio in Newport Beach: "Hairpieces have become much more refined and sophisticated. Before, they were kind of cheesy. You used to put them on with glue. Now, they just clip in with small metal clips. The old way was treacherous."

Women heading for black-tie galas can clip on a chignon or a fall to add fullness, he says.

"Actresses and models have been using them for years. Fran Drescher wore a short little fall to the Emmys. It looked adorable."

To pull off the look, the wigs have to be applied with care. The real hair underneath should be flattened to the scalp with pin curls.

"If it's just pulled into a ponytail, you'll have a bump," Martinez explains.

To anchor the wig to the scalp, she starts at the hairline, working in the bobby pins at the temples and following all along the scalp.

"You have to really take time to pin it well so you can dance in it," Martinez says. "I've seen girls wear wigs and they look like they don't feel comfortable. They're holding their head like they have a wig on."

That's not fashionable in any era.

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