Photographers from L to R; Top to Bottom. Andrei Guiamoy photography, Quang Chau, D. Sheldrick, Anna S, Nomes, D Thorne, D Thorne, Nomes, N8E
From spiky updos, to crazy colours and flowing curls – it’s no secret that when it comes to dressing as fictitious characters the rules of physics and biology don’t always apply. With the large variation in character hairstyles it’s not always possible to cosplay with your own hair and so for years cosplayers have turned to wigs. Below you’ll find a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered during my time in cosland for choosing, treating and wearing cosplay wigs.
1. Purchase your wig with plenty of time in advance of the con to avoid disappointment
Sometimes shipping times are mean. I’ve heard the story too many times of wigs arriving the day before the con with no time to style it, or not arriving at all, or the wrong wig has turned up! And when you’ve gone to so much work to be ready it’s shame to not feel your best. I like to order my wigs as early as I can when working on a costume so that I have time to sort out any problems I might run into if the wig isn’t quite right.
2. Match the wig colour to your character but also to your skin tone for maximum flattery
When finding the right wig I like to not only consider which colour is most accurate to the character but I also think about which tone of that colour will suit me best. My skin, for instance, can’t take too much yellow when it comes to blonde. I start to look sallow or the blonde starts to look ginger. With this in mind I lean towards lighter and ashier blondes to look my best.
3. Knocking down the shine of a wig can make the wig look more natural
We all know no one naturally grows bright pink hair but some synthetic wigs are heavy on the shine and look a bit more fake than others. This can detract from the fantasy illusion of the cosplay. Dusting a wig with baby powder or translucent make up setting powder can take down that sheen. Take a little powder and run it through the wig with fingers and a comb or with a big face powder brush. You may have to do this each time you wear the wig as the powder will come off.
4. Wig nets keep your own hair under control
A wig net worn under a wig can keep your own hair out of the way and helps prevent stray wisps of your natural hair showing through your wig and breaking the illusion it’s your real hair. Wig nets come in a range of colours – I like to keep a stock of light beige nets to wear with pale wigs and black ones to wear with dark wigs. You can get both lycra and fishnet types of wig net. Personally, I prefer the fishnet type so that I can pin the wig to my head through the netting and better secure it. If you have long hair you can put it into a Heidi braid first before putting on the wig cap.
5. Bobby pins and wig clips help secure your wig to your head
Pinning your wig in place helps to make sure you stay looking fab all day and aren’t worrying about slips. The minimum number of clips I use is one at each temple and one behind each ear. I try and slide them in in such a way but they are trapped by but also hidden by the wig hair. You can also get sew in wig clips and combs which you can stitch directly into the wig to help secure the wig to your head.
6. When it comes to hairspray it’s got to be Got2B
My favourite hairpsray for wigs is Got2Be by Schwartzkopf. Most wig hair is synthetic but off the shelf hair sprays, gels and other products are designed for use with real hair and so don’t work as hoped. Got2B works really well with wigs. It can hold all day at a con. I always travel to cons with a can in my bag just in case I need to do any emergency styling and to keep those flyaways tamed.
I also like to use Got2Be on wig sideburns each time I put the wig on to help the side burns stay styled and flat to my face. It helps hide those wispy bits of my real hair that always try and sneak out from under the wig at my temples.
Photographer: Cosplay Cruise
7. Storing your wig carefully can help it last longer
Overtime wigs can frizz but you can maximize the lifespan of your wig. Comb your wig out after wear working any knots through from tip to top with a wide toothed comb and your fingers. Take your time as easing out the knots to minimise the damage to the fibres. If it’s a soft styled wig store it in the bag it came. If the wig is long, you can plait the wig before storage to help it stay knot free. Heavily styled wigs are best stored on polystyrene wig heads.