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Super long Wig Buying and Styling Master Guide For All Your Cosplay Needs

askarsenicgallows:

Wigs can make or break a cosplay, seriously. If you’re going to invest in one expensive thing for a cosplay, let it be the wig.

Sure you can get a cheap wig from party city, but trust me, you’ll regret it. Cheap wigs are impossible to style, the skeleton shows through, and the hair falls out like crazy. When buying a wig look for a heat resistant and skin top wig. Special parts and pulled back hair calls for special wigs such as lace front and lace top.

I’ve had people ask me about using their own hair instead of a wig. I do not recommend this at all, unless your hair is just like the character’s. Anime characters are extremely stylized, and over the top. Natural hair typically does not stand out enough to look that great for cosplay. It’s also a pain to have to style your hair each time you want to cosplay, and making sure it’s the right length.

I advise getting a wig if your character has: 

  • Any unnatural colored hair. It’s a PAIN to dye your hair a super bright color and keep up with it long term, and it will usually not look as good as a wig.
  • Any spiked or weird crazy style. Natural hair is usually not full enough to make spikes work well.
  • Jet black hair. Even most people with “black hair” actually have dark brown hair. A black wig will usually look more rich
  • There are exceptions to all of these, of course! 

Real hair is usually better if your character has:

  • A natural color that is close to your own hair including: blonde, brown, and red. If you’re dirty blond but your character is platinum blond, don’t sweat it unless you’re really concerned about accuracy
  • A length that can be easily maintained. I do NOT recommend cutting your hair in a weird way for a character unless you KNOW you want that cut every single day of your life for a while
  • All of things above plus a crazy part like a zig-zag part or pig tails. Zig Zag parts or ponytails/pig tails take a LOT of work and extra money to do to a wig. 
  • A good example: I have waist length long brown hair and am cosplaying Painwheel. She has a zig zag part and a bun with a big hair loopy in the back. My hair is long enough to form the loop, and all I have to do is buy a clip-on bun and I’m set. If I wanted a wig like this, I would have to buy an EXPENSIVE full lace wig. Using my real hair is the best choice in this case

Where to buy: Note, all of the sellers I list only sell heat-resistant wigs

  • Arda wigs is my new favorite. All of the wigs are very full, and use the same, incredibly realistic fibers. Their lace fronts are absolutely fantastic. 
  • Lucaille has an AMAZING selection. They have the biggest character-specific selection I have ever seen. They all look very accurate, and are extremely cheap. They also have some nice fashion/lolita cosplay wigs. 
  • Epic Cosplay Wigs has a very large selection, and they are recommended by lots of professionals. They are very soft and good quality with minimum sheen. 
  • Insomnium wigs is great! 
  • Amphigory has a HUGE selection of wigs and extensions
  • The Five Wits has great character-specific wigs
  • ebay user Agree518’s Fashion-Cosplay-Wigs shop has a humongous selection of wigs. I have been buying from them for years, and am happy with all of the wigs I bought. However, they aren’t all made the same and some of them are much thinner and courser than others. None of them are going to be super-fantastic quality like Arda and Insomnium.
  • AnimeStuffStore on ebay has a great Cosplay wig section
  • Cosplay Wigs USA has some unique styles
  • Matchwigs are alright, but be warned: they all are VERY full and look a bit too poofy and unnatural. Good for super styled spikes. 
  • Cosplay.com Shopping I’ve heard mixed reviews about, though I’ve never bought wigs from them.
  • I Kick Shins is great for extensions and styling supplies. I bought lots of human hair wefts from them and they’re absolutely gorgeous, and cheap!
  • Petting Zoo Wigs has extentions
  • Doctored Locks has extentions
  • Milanoo gets a lot of mixed reveiws since, unlike the other sites I have listed, their wigs come from many different sellers. I would stay away from them.
  • God Save The Queen does custom wig commissions

Here is my masterpost on what wigs to buy for every single Homestuck character

Styling:

- Products:

  • A Styrofoam mannequin head is essential for wig styling. They are $5 at hobby lobby.
  • Hair wax to style bangs, spikes, and to tease hair.
  • Spiking glue to style spikes
  • Many people say not to use gel in wigs. While I somewhat agree since gel will cake the fibers together and make them extremely stiff and shiny, it is necessary in some cases. I used gel to smooth down and solidify my Elsa braid. Otherwise, it kept coming out because it was so full. Gel is good to use on the end of super styled spikes to keep the fibers together. Gel is not good if you’re trying to make semi-realistic spikes. 
  • Hairspray to hold the wig’s shape. I recommend freeze spray for holding spikes and special curls
  • Wide tooth comb to comb the wig. Never use a comb for curls, use your fingers to lightly brush it
  • Rat comb is used to back-comb wigs for volume, or spikes
  • Blow dryer for styling curles
  • Never use hair straighteners or curling irons
  • Sewing shears are my personal preference for cutting wigs. Many people say not to do this because they’re so sharp, and can leave edges too perfect. I just know how to work them. It really depends on your methods of style. If you want good hair thinning shears, here are some. Don’t use the scissors you use for wig cutting on anything else, and especially not paper
  • Foam curlers work best for curling wigs

-Layering:

-Cutting Bangs:

-Styling Spikes:

- Curling: 

-Straightening:

-Teasing: 

-Dying: 

  • There is no way to lighten a wig with die if it’s too dark. The only method is leaving it out in the sun, but be careful because this is inconsistant and could create streaks, or gradients
  • Do not use colored hairspray to try to dye a wig. Don’t use colored hairspray to dye your hair as a substitute for a wig. DON’T EVER USE COLORED HAIRSPRAY
  • Use Actual wig dying ink, or FW ink (video tutorial)
  • dying with polyester fabric dye
  • dying with (very cheap) rit fabric dye
  • You can make your own wig dye
  • You can use acrylic ink (tutorial)
  • Or you can die your wig with sharpie
  • Painting designs on a wig
  • You can sometimes remove wig die, but it doesn’t always work depending on what ink you use. Put the wig in a ziplock bag filled with rubbing alcohol and squish and shake it well, then rinse. You only need to let it sit in the alcohol for a few seconds; the die should come right off. Just make sure it gets everywhere. If the die doesn’t come out completely, let the wig air dry and repeat the process
  • Wig dye does not work well on Elora fiber, but the only Elora fiber I’ve seen is the New Look line so it’s not a big worry


Special Styles:

-Cowlick/hairlines:

-Lace Front Wigs: 

  • I buy all of mine from Arda wigs. They’re cheap for lace fronts and VERY good quality. Extremely thick and sturdy with very realistic fibers. 
  • IMPORTANT! You must watch this if you buy one: Putting on a lace front
  • I used spirit gum first, but it was a pain and leaves yellow scum on the wig. Very hard to clean off. I advise using lace front tape. Arda wigs supplies it, but it’s usually out of stock. You can get them very cheap on ebay. 
  • Wig ventelating (GREAT video tutorial!)
  • Wig ventelating 2
  • Arda wigs also sells ventilating needles + holder, but they are often out of stock
  • This ebay seller has cheap wig ventilating needles + holder in 4 different sizes. (They also just needles)
  • Fx Supply sells ventilating needles (holder sold separately)
  • If you’re making your own lace front, Hugo Royer and Atelier Bassi sell super fine swiss lace

-Ponytails/buns/parts:

-Wig wefting:

-Character Styles (some of the tutorials above are for specific characters too):

Making your own wig from scratch:

Wearing 

  • Putting on the wig
  • Always wear a wig cap. It prevents ichyness, and will keep your wig from sliding around. Even if you have short hair, wear it
  • Pin your wig to your hair/wig cap with bobby pins
  • If you have long hair, than use this method to pin your hair up. I use it every time, and if I don’t, my wig slides down with wear
  • wearing a lace front wig

Wig Care:

-Brushing: 

  • Only brush straight hair with a wide-tooth comb. Brush the tips first, then move up to the top of the wig
  • Do not use a comb to brush curls, use your fingers gently
  • If your curly wig has a straight top, or straight bangs, you can use a brush to comb the straight parts. 

-Washing and detangling:

-Detangling (also, see above in washing and detangling):

-Storing:

  • I keep my most styled wigs pinned to a few styrofoam mannequin heads, this way all my hard work is not ruined by storage.
  • You can keep wigs with minimal styling in their original plastic bags. For spiky/teased wigs, I keep them turned inside-out in the bags. This way they don’t flatten.
  • If you have a huge wig collection and no space to store them (like me), I would advise getting a shoe hanger rack :)

Note: Synthetic Vs. Human hair wigs:

  • Synthetic hair will hold its original style, even if it gets rained on or dunked in cold water
  • it is easy to take care of and maintain
  • It is significantly cheaper than human hair wigs
  • they come in a variety of colors
  • it is really difficult to tell the difference
  • It cannot be styled in the same way as human hair
  • Human Hair can by easily styled with anything
  • they can be dyed and bleached
  • they have to be re-styled much more
  • they are extremely expensive
  • available in a limited range of colors

More references:

-my FAQ (mostly for homestuck cosplay help, also a bit of bellydance)

-This is a HUGE glossary of terms and definitions all about wigs. It’s very informative, and I advise looking it over!

-cosplaytutorial: a wonderful master list of many many cosplay tutorials. 

-cosplay.com’s FAQ

-Godsavethequeen’s cosplay tutorials

-cosplayresources, a good cosplay help blog

-an SFX makeup masterpost

-a great sewing tutorial site

-my “Where to Buy Wigs For Every Single Homestuck Character“ master list

-homestuckcosplayhelp, a great blog that is my go-to when starting a new homestuck cosplay

 Whew! Glad that’s finally done. It only took me three months…

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