A wig can completely transform the look of your costume and help you really get into the part. But there are lots of different types of wigs, ranging in price from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. How do you know what to buy? And how do you make it last?
Types of wigs:
Wigs can be made of synthetic hair, human hair or a combination of both. They can have a full or partial cap made of net or lace. For costume use, you'll probably be looking at a synthetic hair wig with a full cap. They are the most economical for occasional use. However, if you're running a theater department or wear wigs frequently, you should invest in a natural hair wig of the best quality you can afford. They can be washed and styled just like any normal head of hair, and they look much more realistic.
Buying a wig:
Your best bet for high quality wigs is to find a wig store in your town. There you'll be able to try them on and make sure they stay put on your head for long periods of time. A wig store will also be able to help you style and care for your wig. And best of all, it won't come squished up in plastic packaging.
For novelty wigs, you have lots of choices. You can buy cheap wigs at party stores (or even your local drug store) around Halloween. These are great if you're just planning on one or two uses and you want a messy hair look. They tend to be tangled from the start and brushing them only pulls out the hair.
If you want a cleaner, more styled look you should spend a bit more money for a higher end wig you can purchase from a good costume shop or online. For under $40, you can get a great synthetic wig styled just the way you want it. In fact, most wigs online are under $20.
It's best to get your wig in exactly the style you want for the costume. The less you have to do to it, the better. You should never apply heated appliances like curling irons to a synthetic wig. The fibers will melt or catch fire.
When your wig arrives:
Sometimes a wig needs a little attention when you first get it. If it's in a package, pull it out and gently shake it to let the hair fall to its full length and style. For long straight hair wigs, you can very gently run a wide tooth comb or spiked brush through it to smooth out the fibers. Start combing at the bottom and slowly work your way up.
For curly wigs, use your fingers to separate and place the curls where they should be. You never want to use a brush or comb on a curly wig.
It is possible to dye wigs another color. But again, you need to use special dyes to avoid damaging the fibers. And you can always cut the hair to suit your character, if necessary. (Just remember, once you cut it, you can't put it back!)
How to put them on:
Make sure your real hair is slicked back and held solidly against your head. Long hair should be secured in a low bun or otherwise styled as flat as possible. If your hair is fine or slippery, you may need to add some cheap hairspray to roughen up the surface a bit.
Wig caps help a lot. They cost about $2 online and hold your hair in place while giving a smooth surface for the wig to sit on.
Slip the wig onto your head starting at the forehead. Tuck any stray hairs under the wig and be sure to check the back for any sign of your real hair. Shake your head gently to see if it's going to stay put. A well-fitting wig will stay on your head just fine, but you may need to use bobby pins to secure any loose spots. You can also use double-sided tape or spirit gum (wig glue) to apply the wig to the band of your wig cap. Don't let the glue get into your real hair.
How to clean your wig:
First of all, make sure your hair is clean when you wear your wig. If you store it properly, you shouldn't need to clean a costume wig at all. If you do decide to clean it, don't use regular shampoo on a synthetic hair. There are special wig shampoos and conditioners you can purchase online or at a wig store.
How to store your wig:
Proper storage is very important if you plan to use your wig more than once. You never want to crush the wig in a bag. The best storage is on a wig head. But if you don't have one, or don't have room for one, you can roll up newspaper or fabric into a ball and stuff the cap to help it keep its shape. Then place the wig loosely in a hat box or other covered container to keep dust and dirt away.
Now the really fun part:
There are hundreds of costume wig styles out there for extremely reasonable prices. Celebrities, fictional characters, holiday looks...Go check them out at ExtremeWigs.com. Wigs from the extreme to the everyday. You might just get a great idea for your next costume.