Working in the fashion and beauty industry, my job is all about keeping on top of the latest beauty news — and that includes trying to figure out what color Kim Kardashian's hairstylist is changing her look to on any given day. Know that this is no easy feat now that wigs have constantly been thrown into the mix. If you've ever wondered how the Kylie Jenners, Katy Perrys, and Ariana Grandes of the world go from brunette to candy pink hair and back again without damaging their precious locks or grow a short bob to waist-length waves overnight, chances are, it's a wig. And most likely, celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton is the man behind the chair, carefully crafting this transformation.
The thing is, wigs and hairpieces have long been used for gorgeous hair transformations, but the wigs, extensions, and hairpieces of today are seriously advanced. They look so real — or at least, that's how it seems on Instagram. To investigate how well this transformation works IRL, I decide to go straight to the source. After years of reporting on Hollywood's best hair transformations, wondering to myself "did they or didn't they color it?" and mapping out timelines of their ever-changing lengths, I met up with Chris Appleton himself to experience my very own transformation. During our time together, he took me from my long, virgin brunette hair to a believable blonde in just an hour. But could I trick everyone into thinking it was real, the same way so many celebs and other people do on a daily basis?
When we were ready to begin, I sat in Appleton's chair and watched his intense process. He began by braiding my hair as tight and as flat as possible to keep it hidden before trying a few different wig styles on me.
Once we settled on a look (a warm-toned blonde with dark roots by Glam Seamless), he lined the wig up perfectly with my hairline and glued it in place. He then cut a few face-framing strands to make the style appear natural and styled it with a blow dryer and curling iron the way he would if it were real hair. Despite observing everything he did intently from beginning to end, I still didn't recognize myself when I stepped out of his chair. Needless to say, I was shocked. Even with a tight timeframe and a wig that will run me a fraction of the price of the ones worn by Appleton's celebrity clientele, it really does look as real as celebrity wigs I've seen so often.
In an effort to gauge the reactions of those around me, I slowly started posting teaser videos and photos on my Instagram Story. Even though my friends and followers knew me as a true brunette, everyone from closest friends to followers I've never met in person proceeded to freak out. My DMs flooded with digital shrieks of disbelief and surprised emojis. Texts from friends and emails from colleagues rolled in, all asking for clarification. "Is it real?" "Did you really bleach your hair?" "I need answers!" These are the questions I ask myself at work when I report on a celebrity changing their look. I couldn't believe so many people were convinced my quick change was real.
The true test came when I got home. My husband greeted me at the door in disbelief. At first, I could tell he had trouble looking me in the eyes — he was thoroughly freaked out. However, after the shock of seeing me with a completely new look wore off, he was obsessed. At that point, I almost regretted having to admit to him in the next couple of days that it wasn't real. But until then, I kept the secret. He touched the blonde locks, made me do a little spin, smiled at me, and was none the wiser.
I post another video on Instagram the next morning — one that shows the entire look. At this point, everyone is extremely convinced it's real. But, that was on social media.
However, later that same day, I had an event to attend at night. I knew the room would be full of beauty editors, makeup artists, and beauty junkies alike, and I was curious if they'd be able to tell that this wasn't my virgin hair IRL. I walked into the room and was greeted by a fellow beauty editor and good friend. She hadn't seen my Instagram Story from the day before, so she automatically guessed it's a wig. However, from behind me, I hear, "Oh my God, your virgin hair!" It was another editor and friend who scanned my wig from roots to ends and grabbed it by the handful. I could see in her face that she had no idea I was wearing a wig. If the current wig technology could fool her, a seasoned beauty veteran, anybody could fool anyone.
While I eventually admitted to my friends and to all the people in my life that my blonde hair wasn't real and that my virgin hair was still intact under a wig cap, I was truly convinced of the power of the wig.
For so long, a wig or extensions offered so many people an easy, quick way to completely transform their look, and now, the process is just as easy (if not easier) and even more believable. Obviously, you can't believe everything you hear, but you certainly can't believe everything you see either — not even when it's right in front of you, hair flipping in your face.