Cosplay Curious: Wig Wear and Care

Wig Wear and Care

We were a small, but mighty few this week, but I know I learned a lot just the same. This month we were focusing on wigs, how to wear them, style them, and care for them. Now, full disclosure, I’ve worn wigs. I have never styled them beyond a brush through or had to care for them- I’ve only ever borrowed them. So, I am guilty of a lot of ‘don’ts’- but no more! I now know how to do this the ‘proper’ way. I would love to revisit this in the future.

Synthetic versus Real Hair Wigs

To be honest, I always figured that real hair wigs would be somehow more desirable than synthetic, but how wrong was I? Real hair wigs require just as much or more care than your actual hair. Who has time for that for something you’re only wearing for conventions or to a game once in a while? Also, real hair wigs don’t come in the same array of colors and styles as synthetic. And cost. Holy moly the cost! The difference is astounding! We’re talking upwards of a thousand dollars in difference. That’s in dollars, guys! *mind blown*

Wearing Your Wig

Out of the package, with a shorter wig you can pretty much shake it out to give it some volume- kinda nice since longer ones will require more out of the box care and brushing. When putting the wig on, the label always goes in the back (good to know because there is a bob wig I did once put on backwards, and while I still rocked the look, nice to know what to look for if I am ever in doubt).

When putting on your wig, flip it over so the label is furthest from you and flip it on over your head. The front hairline should sit on your natural hairline. Be gentle in maneuvering your wig into position and be sure not to pull on the hairs or you risk pulling them out of the wig cap.

Most wigs nowadays are adjustable. There are a couple different types that are popular- there may be a Velcro tab used to adjust your wig size, a sort of hook that can be placed inside a tab along the inside of the wig or a pull similar to a bra strap or a backpack.

There are a ton of products available to keep your wig in place as well. You can use bobby pins to secure your wig, there are different types of bands that will help grip it in place, scarves, double sided tape. You name it. Lots of creative ways to keep your do from falling off.

Wearing a mesh or cotton wig cap can help make the wearing experience more comfortable. I prefer mesh- I feel like it breathes better. My hair is a medium length so I just throw it up in a ponytail and use the cap to keep my hair in place. Longer hair may require some time with some bobby pins. Short hair likely won’t require a lot of work to hide.


Washing your wig is recommended about every 6-8 wears, unless you’ve used product, in which case more often may be needed. To wash your wig, put cold or room temperature water in a clean basin, your tub or you can hold your wig under the water, letting it run in the direction of the hairs to minimize knotting and tangling. Avoid hot water as it can melt the fibers and mess up the natural style of your wig.

There is some debate over the products recommended, but a lady at cosplay night said she uses the same washing products as she uses on her real hair- so I guess this is left to what you are comfortable with. There are an array of wig care shampoos and conditioners available out there. Might be something to bring up later on and see if anyone else has any suggestions. To dry your wig, lay it on a towel and blot. Do not squeeze or wring it out- you’ll damage it. Hang it up on a mannequin head to dry. Also, do not comb when wet.

First things first- secure the wig. Pin it to a mannequin head or a Styrofoam head. The reason I suggest this is because you may need two hands to handle your wig and you won’t if you need one to hold it up. There are a number of ways to hold your wig head up- tripod, old music stand, lamp stand, 2L bottle filled with sand, broom stick- again, get creative. Enlist a friend or relative to hold it. Pay them in cookies.

Heat– be careful and gentle. Synthetic hair wigs are essentially plastic. Quick swipes, low heat. Or don’t use heat if not essential to the look you’re going for.

Some synthetic wigs have ‘style memory’ meaning that even after washing they will retain the style they were designed with. Most times they just need a good shaking and will go back to the original style. A spritz of water and your fingertips will revive a tired do. Easy peasy.

When styling a wig, avoid using your regular brush because your regular brush will likely pull out more hair. Finger combing is usually enough, but when needed, a wide-toothed is preferable and less likely to catch on hairs. A fine toothed comb is useful for those fine details or neatening up areas that are already tangle free. When combing or brushing your wig, start from the bottom and work your way up to minimize potential hair loss, and do not comb when wet.

Sometimes you may find you need to cut or trim your wig. If you’re able to, buy scissors meant for hair, if for no other reason than they offer more precision. But just like having a pair of scissors meant specifically for fabric, the same applies to this as the synthetic fibers of the wig will eat the metal of the scissors, so be prepared to sharpen them often.

As for products, Aquanet is good hairspray for light styling or fly-a-ways. Otherwise you can use something like got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray for the “no way real hair should do that” styling. (Love that line)


If you’re anything like me, you’re going WTF? about now. Essentially, wefting is the process of removing pieces or adding pieces to your wig. Why would I ever want to spend the money and then tear my wig apart? Because after looking at it, it seems a lot easier than trying to color your wig if you are looking for a gradient look and this way is not permanent. Plus, who doesn’t love to tear things apart? Therapeutic!

Anyway, wigs are put together in pieces, so taking one out or adding one is not terribly difficult by the looks of it. Arda did an awesome tutorial, which I will link for you here.

Last but not least… storing your wigs. Personally, I think this part might be the trickiest. Cause who has space to store very many wigs on heads on a shelf. Go ahead, raise your hand. Not me. I might get away with 2-3 on a head for storage if I wanted to chance my cats getting at them, but odds are not. But for wigs you use regularly, storing them on a mannequin or Styrofoam head is not a bad option. For the rest, unfortunately, into a box they go. Preferably, into a plastic bag, and then on top of one another in a box. And therein lies the issue. On top of one another. You’ve see what happens when you lay loaves of bread on each other right? They get squished and deformed. The same thing happens to wigs. The weight of them creates a crease where they are folded. To prevent this you can rotate your wigs often, or when you pull them out, reverse them. This helps keep that crease from forming.

And this website is just awesome:
All That’s Cosplay

Other sources
Arda Tutorials
Headcovers Wig Care
How to make the cheap wig wearable (video)

And don’t forget, if you want to start from the beginning, you can start here. Next meet is March 10th at the store! Hope to see you there!

Part 2

Part 3

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