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If you’re like me, you’ve lived a great deal of your cosplay career in fear of cutting a single hair off your wigs. And God forbid you spray any product in it; it could ruin the “close enough” style that you bought! Well, as someone who just recently picked up a pair of shears and a can of hairspray, I have good news! You don’t need to live a coslife of unstyled, uncut head mops any longer! I wanted to take the bit of experience I’ve gained while working on three very different wigs myself, plus the advice I’ve gathered from my more wig-talented friends to give you the confidence to try your own hand at wig styling.
So, let’s hit the basics. Of course, you can’t cut and style a wig without buying it. This first installment on wigs will go over where to look when buying wigs, as what to look for in the wigs themselves.
Since my first cosplay in 2009, I’ve had to buy wigs. I’ve bought from several different places, ranging from wig-dedicated websites, to wig stalls at conventions, to eBay. Over the years, I’ve had poor experiences while purchasing wigs and wonderful ones. Sites such as Arda Wigs and EpicCosplay have supplied some of my favorite hair pieces. The Five Wits have also delivered on some great wigs, including one I was particularly worried about finding because of its odd weft work. However, I’m not saying that only places I’ve listed these are trustworthy. I’ve been able to find a few hidden gems on eBay that I still use and love to this day.
Regardless of where you purchase your wigs from, there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration. First and foremost, heat resistance is a super important quality in a wig. When it comes to styling your wigs, it will make styling the wig down the road so much easier if you get the right kind of wig to begin with. If you attempt to heat style a wig that isn’t heat resistant, the hairs will burn, warp, melt and all kinds of other horrible things. Not to mention, it’ll smell awful. Keep an eye out for this quality in your wigs and you won’t be sorry!
Another big part of buying a wig is keeping in mind what type of wig you need. Which leads us to the difficult decision between lace fronts and wigs with dedicated bangs. Lace fronts are perfect for characters with odd hairlines or hairlines that are very prominent. Think hairlines that are shaped and not hidden, or characters with slicked back hair dos. Don’t be afraid of these wigs! They are wonderful not only to wear, but to work with. And when worn correctly, they can make your overall cosplay look even better. But that doesn’t mean you can count out your run-of-the-mill wigs with premade bangs and hairlines. They can take out an immense amount of cutting and styling work. Plus they’re a little easier on your wallet, which is always something to consider.
Now, say you’re looking at your character and unsure of what length wig to buy. Take it from someone who’s messed this up before: if you’re between two lengths, always go with the longer wig. You can cut bits off to make it shorter, but you can’t glue more hair on to make it longer (at least, not with much success.) Along with length is the importance of colors. Sites like Arda have a great gallery of pictures featuring their clients wearing their wigs, arranged by color. Many of these wig sites offer color swatches that are super handy for deciding what color wig you should order. Word of advice; if a wig seller you really enjoy offers a color ring of all of their samples, get it. It’s an investment that pays off. If you’re still not sure, a lot of great wig vendors go to conventions, so you can see their products in person.
You’ll also want to keep in mind how your wig hair needs to be parted when buying wigs, so you can decide if you need a skin top or not. A skin top allows the wig to have the fibers parted any way you may need, but without a skin top, you can only style in ways that the sewn wefts will allow. One other factor to take into consideration is the thickness of the wig. A thicker wig will hold up large spikes well and work great for large style jobs. Wigs on the thinner side are good for looks that are more realistic looking, especially short spikey cuts. But don’t worry, if you’ve gotten too thick of a wig, it can be thinned! I’ll get into that in my next article. In the meantime, enjoy a dose of newfound confidence in the world of wigs!
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