How to Wear and Care for Costume Wigs
In this how-to video we show you everything you need to know about wearing and caring for costume wigs. We also demonstrate some accessories to make the process easier.
- By Jenna Maxwell
Wondering how to properly wear and take care of that new costume wig? Relax, we'll show you what to do.
When it comes to dressing as any costume character, one of the quickest and easiest ways to get into your look is by sporting the perfect hairdo. Sometimes the easiest way to get a truly authentic hairstyle for your character is by wearing a wig! Costume wigs have many distinct advantages. Getting the hairstyle or hair color that you want without having to change your own natural hair is one very obvious good thing. Wigs also provide an instantaneous change, so your results are immediate and donít require a lot of fuss.
Getting Your Wig Ready
When you first pull your wig out of itís packaging, the first thing you will notice is that it is all folded up and is likely wrapped up in a hair net. You will want to very carefully remove the hair net and set it aside. If you will be eventually repackaging your wig in itís original box or bag, you may want to save the hair net to protect the wig, but this is not necessary. Your wig may look flat and a bit disheveled from the packaging, but donít worry. With a few simple steps, you will be able to get your wig styled exactly how you want it to be.
The first step to styling your wig is to gently hold onto it by the inner wig cap and give the wig a good shake. This will loosen up all the fibers. Skip this step if your wig has been previously pinned into a very specific style that will be ruined by shaking. Once youíve given the wig a gentle shake, then itís time to style it. Styling a wig is most easily accomplished on a foam wig head if you have access to one, but this is optional. If you do have a foam wig head, place the wig on it and pin it into position with a couple of wig pins so that it stays put.
Straighter styles of wigs can be brushed with a wig brush or a wide-tooth comb. Be very gentle when brushing or combing your wig so that you donít pull out strands of hair or cause damage to your wig. Styling a wig is very much the same as styling your own hair--you can tease it, brush it or whatever you like--as long as you donít use any heated hair styling tools on your wig. Synthetic wig fibers will melt or become irreparably damaged by heat, so never use a hot hair dryer, flat iron or curling iron on a costume wig! If you want to curl your wig, you may do so easily by using regular plastic, sponge or Velcro curlers. This process is most easily accomplished by misting your wig with a little water and then setting the wig with the curlers you desire. Let your wig air dry if possible. If you must use a hair dryer, always use the cool air setting!
Curly wigs should NEVER be brushed! Brushing a curly wig will break apart the curls and cause them to frizz. If you need to style or shape a curly wig, the best way to do this is with a spray bottle set on a mist setting. A light misting of water while you scrunch the curls into place with your hand works very well for getting the curly locks into place. Once you have your curly wig looking the way you like, simply let it air dry!
Sometimes there may be a need to trim your wig. Using sharp scissors and great care, trim your wig as desired. Be aware that itís better to just trim a little bit of hair and then have to go back and trim more later, rather than getting too aggressive initially with your shears and then regretting it. Once the hair has been trimmed off, obviously thereís no way to put it back, so be very careful and be sure you know what you are trying to accomplish before diving in.
Hair spray is another handy styling tool that is safe to use on costume wigs. Once you have your wig styled the way you like it, go ahead and lightly mist it with hair spray in order to hold the style in place.
Wearing Your Wig
Once your wig is styled the way you like, itís time to get your own natural hair out of the way so that it wonít show underneath your costume wig. If you have very long or thick hair, you must evenly distribute your hair on your head so that you donít have a large bulge underneath your wig. The easiest way to accomplish this is by putting your hair up in small pin curls all over your head and then securing these with bobby pins. If your hair is very short or fine, you may find that a small ponytail in the back of your head is sufficient. One key element that ensures that your natural hair will stay up and out of the way is to use a wig cap. Wearing a wig cap
will hold your natural hair in place so you donít have to worry about any loose strands coming out. Simply stretch the wig cap over your pinned up hair, lining it up at the hairline. Make sure your ears arenít tucked in! Now you are ready to put on your wig. Generally speaking, itís usually easiest to put the wig on at the front and pull it down toward the back. Once you have the wig pulled down into position, tuck in any loose strands of your natural hair that may be showing. Use bobby pins to hold any large tufts of hair in place. If you feel you need to, you can also use bobby pins to attach the inner cap of the wig to your natural hair to give yourself a secure fit.
Shampooing Your Wig
Shampooing your wig after each wearing is not necessary. Because the fibers of a wig do absorb odors, however, there will come a time when you will likely want to shampoo your wig. Shampooing a wig is very easy to do. Fill your sink with cool water. (Donít use hot water as heat can damage the fibers of your wig!) Add about a teaspoon of mild shampoo to the water and swish it around to build up a small lather. Gently place your wig in the sink and push it down into the water, submerging it completely. If you feel that the wig cap is extra dirty, you can gently massage it with your fingers to loosen any soil that may have built up in this area. Gently swirl the wig in the water, but do not scrub or harshly rub the wig, as this may tangle up the fibers or damage them. Itís okay to gently squeeze the water/shampoo through the hairs of the wig. Let the wig soak for about five minutes.
Once your wig is finished soaking, then you will want to rinse it very thoroughly with cool water. After rinsing, hold the wig over the sink and allow the excess water to run out of the wig hair. Gently squeeze the fibers to facilitate this process. Once most of the water has been drained from the wig, place the wig gently on a clean towel and fold the towel over the wig. Press gently in order to absorb most of the excess water out of the wig.
Now itís time to comb out your wig! Using a wig brush or a wide-tooth comb, gently comb through the wig, removing any tangles. If you have a foam wig head, put your wig on it and let your wig air-dry. When the wig is nearly or almost dry, you can add curlers if desired. Air-drying is always the preferred method of drying a wig but if you must speed up the process with a blow dryer, only use the cool setting! Heat will melt the fibers of a synthetic wig so do not be tempted to use a heated setting.
Storing Your Wig
Never store your wig when it is wet. If your wig is very dirty, it is a good idea to shampoo it before storing, but let it dry completely before packing it away. There are many options for storing your wig. If you do have a foam wig head, you can leave your wig on it and just cover it in plastic and put it on a shelf. This is the most ideal method of storage, as most of the wigís style will be retained and it will be ready to go the next time you want to use it. If you donít have a foam wig head, your wig can be gently folded up and put back in its original packaging or in a plastic bag. Try to store your wig someplace where itís not likely to get squished.
Some costume characters practically demand a specific hairstyle if you are going to get the costume look just right. Wearing a costume wig is one of the easiest and most dramatic ways you can get that specific costume characterís hairstyle instantly! If you take good care of your costume wigs, you will get many years of good use out of them. Happy hairdos from your friends at Halloween Express!