How to Wear and Care for your Costume Wig
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When it comes to transforming into any costume character, sometimes the easiest way to get a truly authentic hairstyle for your character is by wearing a wig! Getting the hairstyle or hair color that you want without having to change your own natural hair is one very obvious good thing. Costume wigs also provide an instantaneous change, so your results are immediate and don't require a lot of hassles.
Let's Prepare your Wig, and get it Styled Right!
When you first pull your wig out of it's packaging, the first thing you will notice is that it is all folded up and is likely wrapped up in a hair net. Carefully remove the hair net. Your wig may look flat and a bit disheveled from the packaging, but don't 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. If you have a foam wig head, use it for styling ease. Once on the foam head, 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 gentle, don't pull out strands of hair or cause damage to your wig. Styling a wig is very much the same as styling your own hair, except you can't 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 using 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 absolutely style or shape a curly wig, 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. Let your wig air dry if possible.
Need to trim your wig? Be very careful and use sharp scissors when trimming your wig as desired. Trim a little, check it out, see if it's enough. Once the hair has been trimmed off, there's no way to put it back, so be very careful and know your objective.
Simply using hair spray is also 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 Costume Wig
Now that you have your "look" for your wig, we need to deal with your real hair. Evenly distribute your hair on your head so that you don't have a large bulge underneath your wig. If you have long or thick hair, putt your hair up in small pin curls all over your head and then securing these with bobby pins. The secret? Get a wig cap - wearing a wig cap will hold your natural hair in place. Simply stretch the wig cap over your pinned up hair, lining it up at the hairline. Do not tuck in your ears. You're ready now. It's usually easiest to put the wig on at the front and pull it down toward the back. Tuck in any loose strands of your hair that may be showing once you have the wig pulled down into position. 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.
Caring for Your Costume Wig
Usually you will not need to clean or shampoo your wig, bu sometimes a wig may absorb odors and that is when your costume will need a cleaning.
Fill your sink with cool water. (Don't 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.
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.
Squeeze the water/shampoo through the hairs of the wig. Let the wig soak for about five minutes.
Rinse thoroughly with cool water. After rinsing, hold the wig over the sink and allow the water to run out of the wig hair.
After 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.
Using a wig brush or a wide-tooth comb, gently comb through the wig, removing any tangles.
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!
How Do I Store my Costume Wig?
Great question. Never store your wig when it is wet. If your wig is dirty, follow the steps above, but let it dry completely before putting it away. 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 wig's style will be retained and it will be ready to go the next time you want to use it. No foam wig head? You can gently fold your wig up and put back in its original packaging or in a plastic bag. Try to store your wig someplace where it's not likely to get crushed.
MaxWigs is proud to work with the American Theater & Drama Society, and the American Association of Community Theater
Ask us about our MaxWigs Costume Wig Guide