Easy & Quick Hairstyles

Orthodox Jewish Bloggers Discuss Wigs

Curated By
Miriam Herst

An inside look at why Orthodox women cover their hair and how it changes their hair care routines.

One of the commandments that Orthodox Jewish women accept when they get married is the commitment to cover their hair, and one of the ways some choose to do so is with wigs. What does this mean exactly? There are different standards in every community regarding what women use to cover their hair, how much hair they choose to cover and when they cover their hair. Some only wear a hat to cover the top of their heads while they’re praying in their synagogues; others wrap their hair in colorful scarves when they’re outside of their homes. Still others choose to cover their hair with wigs. Some women never let a strand of hair show, some leave part of their hair out, some don’t cover their hair at all, while others choose a combination of all of these standards.

While Jewish law dictates that a woman’s hair becomes sacred once she’s married, there are different interpretations of the exact details regarding this commandment.

We spoke to a handful of women who choose to cover their hair about what the custom means to them, how their perspective has shifted over the time they’ve spent covering it and specifically about wigs: the styling options they present, and the effects they have on one’s real hair underneath.

Ariella Zirkind of One Hundred Blessings attributes the importance of this custom to three things. When she married her husband and made a commitment to him, accepting this custom served as another layer of commitment to the religious life they were choosing to live together. Not only that, but she finds it to be a symbol of commitment to her relationship. “It reminds me about privacy for the sake of my marriage: that I’m part of something and someone else now, and even the most basic parts of me should be considered in the context of that new partnership.” Zirkind says, “I also think the physicality of marriage, in things like intimacy, pregnancy and childbirth, brings you a new awareness of your body. That new perspective leads you to extreme self awareness and self love. Adding something extra to my routine that was linked to modesty felt like a natural reflection of that newfound appreciation I had for my physicality.”

Covering your hair doesn’t mean that you can’t keep up with the latest hair trends or feel beautiful. Many women view this commandment as an opportunity to find extra beauty in their routine, try out new hair colors and styles and experiment in ways they may not have otherwise. We spoke to Sharon Langert and Michelle Mozes—two religious women who share their love for fashion and beauty with the world—about why they cover their hair, the challenges they’ve faced and any advice they have for women who are just starting out.

All Things Wigs with Sharon Langert and Michelle Mozes

Wigs on Sharon Langert
Stunning waves on Sharon Langert. Photo credit: Sharon Langert

Sharon Langert

Whether for religious, health, or aesthetic reasons, if you’re wearing a wig enjoy the opportunity to play with colors and textures and change up your look.

All Things Hair: Why did you begin covering your hair, and what was the transition like when you first started?

Sharon LangertI began to cover my hair as soon as I got married. I was 20, and in my mind it was a given because that’s what my mom and every religious woman in my culture did. Back in 1989 wigs were definitely not as nice as they are now so I did struggle with getting them to look natural and feel comfortable. But all in all it was fun to “put on” styled hair everyday.

All Things Hair: What methods do you use to cover your hair and which do you prefer? 

Sharon LangertI love wigs! Today’s wigs are amazing and I actually find them more comfortable than when I start playing around with hats and scarves. I also feel prettiest in wigs, as I have a small face and hair is a great accessory!

All Things Hair: What are some common misconceptions about this commandment and Orthodox women as they relate to it?

Sharon LangertI’ve heard a lot of comments about wigs being hypocritical to modesty, and I really would like to dispel the myth that modesty in Judaism equals ugliness and frumpiness. It’s more an emphasis on the spirituality of a person and how that shines through to the outside.

All Things Hair: Do you have any advice for women who are covering their hair with wigs (whether for religious reasons or otherwise)?

Sharon LangertHave fun! Whether for religious, health, or aesthetic reasons, if you’re wearing a wig enjoy the opportunity to play with colors and textures and change up your look!

All Things Hair: How does covering your hair affect your natural hair? Are there any hair care tips you have?

Sharon LangertMy hair has definitely thinned over the years, but I’m not sure that has anything  to do with covering it. I would say just take care of your hair as you normally do and let it breathe when you’re home.

All Things Hair:  What would you tell a woman struggling with this commandment?

Sharon LangertI would say it’s a very personal decision and one that a woman should feel positive about. Ultimately, it’s up to the woman if and how she will cover her hair and I would never tell anyone what to do. But I would emphasize the great hair days!

Wigs on Michelle Mozes
Michelle Mozes with a long, wavy wig. Photo credit: Tehila Dayan

Michelle Mozes

Wig-wearing is not a handicap, and remember that you’re beautiful with or without it.

All Things Hair: Why did you begin covering your hair and what was the transition like when you first started?

Michelle Mozes: I started covering my hair once I was married for cultural reasons. Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair after marriage, and I knew it was something I had to do, but I didn’t necessarily want to do it. When I went shopping for scarves and wigs during my engagement, I had a very negative attitude out of fear of having to cover my gorgeous, thick blonde hair, and not getting to enjoy the wind blow through it anymore. Once I started wearing wigs after marriage, I was terribly self-conscious and was so aware of this hair that wasn’t mine on top of my head.

All Things Hair: What methods do you use to cover your hair and which do you prefer?

Michelle Mozes: My hair covering method varies based on seasons and occasions. When it’s too hot to wear wigs in the summer, I wear scarves, fedoras and cotton beanies. If I’m going to meet clients or attend an event, I wear a wig to go with my more formal attire. When the season is cooler, I wear wigs 100 percent of the time, because that’s what I prefer. I love playing with hairstyles, and I might forever be a spaz at tying scarves, so wigs are my go-to for hair covering.

All Things Hair: Have the reasons that you’re careful to keep this practice changed at all since you first got married?

Michelle MozesWhen I first got married, I tried to think of ways out of hair covering, but that didn’t feel entirely right with me. Here I am two years later, and I actually enjoy wearing wigs. The day I decided to just “own it” last year was when my whole outlook on wig-wearing changed. I kept the practice when I first got married because I felt like I had to. Now I want to, and look forward to styling and wearing my wigs.

All Things Hair: Do you have any advice for women who are covering their hair with wigs (whether for religious reasons or otherwise)?

Michelle MozesThe wig can’t replace your old hair, but think of it as your new hair. You want to feel beautiful, and finding that perfect wig is important. Take your time trying on wigs and don’t buy more than one to start. You might not know what you really want until you’ve worn a wig for a while, so try one before breaking the bank on many. I recommend finding a salon that will allow you to try on and cut a wig without the commitment of purchasing it. (This is great if, like me, you can’t envision how you’ll look in a specific cut.) Before you know it, you’ll be a wig pro! If you talk to women who have covered their hair for 20+ years, they’ll tell you they still find it hard sometimes, so don’t feel bad if you find the adjustment to be slow or frustrating. Wig-wearing is not a handicap, and remember that you’re beautiful with or without it.

All Things Hair: How does covering your hair affect your natural hair? Are there any hair care tips you have?

Michelle MozesFortunately, I have low-maintenance hair. Wigs have not affected the quality of it, but my blonde hair has turned a couple of shades darker due to lack of sunlight exposure. It used to be about 18” long, but I had to cut it above my shoulders to get wigs on comfortably. I’m enjoying my short hair—it makes me wish I had played around with the length more before I had to cover it. I was warned before hair covering that wig clips could affect my hairline by pulling hair out, but I wear a velcro band instead of clipping wigs into my hair. It’s way more comfortable.

All Things Hair: What would you tell a woman struggling with covering her hair?

Michelle MozesThis is one of those things that gets easier if you have a positive outlook and find a way you can enjoy it. I haven’t met a woman yet who just accepted hair covering overnight. Try to recognize the beauty in this commandment. You’re a beautiful woman, and your hair doesn’t have to define that. Have fun with the glamorous colors of scarves and the luscious locks of wigs!

Looking for more information about wigs? Check out our article on what to look for when buying a wig.

Miriam Herst
Yours in hair obsession, Miriam
21 October 2016

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