Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cosplay 101: Basic Wig Guide (Part 2)

Cosplay 101: Basic Wig Guide
Cosplayers: Liz as LSP, Peony as PB

Part one of the Wig Guide covers why wigs are integral to cosplay, basic wig terminology, choosing wigs, and types of wigs. Today, let's continue on to wig styling, wearing a wig, and wig storage techniques! After reading both parts of this guide, you should master wig basics!

And don't forget to browse the Cosplay 101 tag for more cosplay tutorials and discussions.

I'm about halfway through with my Mami Tomoe wig! Here's what I started with... #cosplay #cosplayprogress
Materials to style my Mami Tomoe wig.

Wig Styling Basics

Cosplay wigs these days are so much more accessible than even 5 years ago. With a wider selection of styles and colors, it's simpler to find a wig close to your character's hair. That being said, almost every wig looks better with a little styling rather than wearing it straight out of the bag. Spend the extra 10 minutes to make your wig look better, even if the style seems perfect, and you'll notice the difference it makes.
  • Trim the bangs to fit your face. Most of the time, wig bangs will be a little too long. Trim them to fit your face and they will look so much better! Cutting bangs is one of the easiest techniques to learn - here's a YouTube tutorial from Arda that explains it well!
  • Thin out too-thick wigs. If your wig makes your head look like a mushroom, you may benefit from trimming the bulk. I used this tutorial to get an idea of how to do it.
  • Add a little styling product. Depending on your character's style, you may want to add some hairspray, tease the wig to make it bigger in some places, or add a little product to make the bangs spiky. (I used a little hairspray to keep Ramona's bangs, below, in the arrangement they are in!)
  • Style curls and waves. There are a few methods to curling a wig, and luckily they are all pretty simple! I usually use foam rollers and heat or water, similar to this tutorial.

Ramona Flowers Volume 5 Cover - Ikkicon 2013
Photo: Filmshooter

Wearing a Wig

For those of you who have had itchy, sweaty, miserable wig experiences, listen up! The quality of the wig you buy matters, but I have a few hints that could help you too.

I consider wig caps absolutely essential to cosplay. They will hide all your stray hairs and keep your hair organized and hidden away underneath your wig. There are two styles - mesh and nylon. I tend to use nylon caps because I think they squish my hair down flatter and are neater, but some people prefer mesh caps, which are more breathable. Either way, try to get a wig cap that will blend under your wig - don't wear a black cap underneath a white wig!

Another tip I have for wearing a wig comfortably is arranging your hair evenly under your wig cap. I usually do maiden braids because they won't make a big lump underneath the wig, like a ponytail or bun would. Plus, when I take my hair out of the wig, sometimes it looks decent. Friends of mine like to do pincurl-style pins or bunch of tiny pinned braids - it's up to your preference! This will ensure that the wig sits evenly and comfortably on your head.

Some wigs are too heavy and will try to slip off your head - ponytail wigs are especially guilty of this. The remedy is simple - sew a few wig clips at the front of your wig, where the wig meets your forehead. This will keep your wig in one place!

One final note - be sure you adjust your wig so it fits comfortably, but not too loosely, on your head. Many quality wigs will have hooks on the backside of the wig itself (you can see an example here to get a visual).

Ramona Flowers

Wig Storage

When you are done wearing your wig, make sure you store it properly to keep it in good shape. I'd recommend de-tangling your wig after each time you wear it (although, admittedly, I don't do it every single time, only when it's needed).

For straight or wavy wigs, simply use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to comb through the wig from the bottom up. Be very gentle and work out any knots slowly. For longer wigs, keep them braided when not in use so the fibers don't get tangled within storage. For curly wigs, it's a little bit different - you'll have to comb each ringlet separately, then wrap it around your finger to bounce the curl back to its shape. As usual, Arda has a wonderful tutorial showing this process.

Next, most wigs can stay in the plastic zip-lock bag they arrived in. This will keep it out of the way and free from dust. I tend to keep the bags open and keep all my wigs in a big tub. It's relatively easy to find the one I need since the bags are clear. If your wig is heavily styled, however, it might be better to leave it on a wig head

Wig Sources

I included it in the first part, but here it is again in case you missed it - my favorite sources for wigs! Now more than ever, wigs of all kinds are easy to buy online. 

And there you go! That's everything you need to know, from choosing the correct wig to keeping it stored properly. I hope this is helpful and serves as a good reference for you. I have plenty of other wiggy topics to delve into later, but I want to know -

What do you want to see on Cosplay 101 next?

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