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Wigs are expensive. Even lace front wigs can run you a few hundred dollars. I like to find decent budget wigs under $50 and spruce them up to fit my costume. We all know cheap wigs look…well…cheap. But you don’t need to spend hundreds to get a better looking wig. Below are some of my favorite tips on making a synthetic wig look more natural.
Pluck the hairline to match your natural hairline
This is a tip for lace front wigs. My hair line is not straight along my forehead and down the sides. I have a slight widows peak and the sides curve down to my ears. When I pluck the wig along the hairline, I like to wear it so I can see exactly where my natural hairline is and pluck the strands in the right place. You can use regular tweezers to do this. Take your time and don’t start ripping the hairs blindly or you could damage the lace.
You can also add baby hairs at this point if that works with your costume. Use a razor or scissors to cut the baby hairs at the hairline. Vary the lengths and distance between hairs and only do several strands at a time.
Use heat to arrange the part
I know it’s been said you shouldn’t use heat on synthetic wigs. While that is mostly true, you can use some heat with caution to help tame the wig. If your synthetic wig allows it, you can change the part to suit your needs. Comb the hair over and create the part. Use a hair dryer on low heat to set the part. Don’t over do this and melt your wig. It shouldn’t take more than a minute to set the part.
Add width to the part
This is another good trick for lace front wigs. Like the hairline, you can pluck the part to make it look more natural. Most wigs will have a very thin flat part. Notice your own part and how you can easily see your scalp. Remove hairs down both side of the part to make it wider by plucking with tweezers. The hairs don’t have to be perfectly straight down the part either. A little variance in plucking can go a long with to making the part look natural.
Wear a wig cap that matches your scalp color
This will make a big difference. Notice your actual scalp is probably lighter than your face. I received tan colored wig caps that look like hosing for legs. It was a bit dark so I ended up bleaching the caps to match my scalp color.
Another tip is to add concealer or powder to the part. Do this on the underside of the wig. This is mostly for lace cap wigs. However, make sure the concealer matches your scalp and not your face color. I made this mistake and the part was so much darker than it should have been. It looked orange!
Darken the roots
I like to add some dimension at the roots. Color treated hair usually has some difference at the roots. Even untreated hair can have a subtle color difference at the roots. I use acrylic paint to achieve this. I mix a custom color according to the wig color. See my post on mixing paint to learn about how I match the colors.
With a paint brush, I lightly brush on the acrylic paint at the roots, about one inch wide, then gently wipe downwards with a damp cloth. This will help diffuse the color and soften blunt edges. Do this all around the part and layer as needed.
I have also seen others use eyeliner pens for this. They work well, but I prefer the paint so I can create a custom color to match the tones of the wig.
Give the wig a fresh trim
Remove damaged, dry, or blunt ends with a good trim. Familiarize yourself with the techniques of a basic hair trim before slashing away with the shears. It’s not hard, but learning a bit beforehand can help you from cutting and removing too much or making a mistake and ruining the wig length.
Remove extra bulk with thinning shears
A lot of wigs will come with a ton of volume and might sit on your head unnaturally. Take a look at your own hair and try to mimic the same volume on your wig.
Use a pair of thinning shears and work with very small amounts at a time. Begin with hair just under the surface and work your way down. Start at the roots with the solid blade on top and the teeth underneath the hair. Clamp down as close to the roots as you can and drag the excess hair out. If the hair is long and the scissors don’t easily slide out, you can remove the shears and comb the hair out. Do this bit by bit. Comb the hair into place after a couple rounds to judge how it lays. Don’t forget to try it on throughout the process until you get the thickness you need.
Add texture and layers with a razor
I like to use a razor on the wig to give it a lived in, textured look. Synthetic wigs can look blunt, stiff, and very uniform, like broomstick hair or straw. A razor can solve this problem and give it some softness and movement. I mostly do the the texturizing a few inches from the bottom, but it all depends on what look you’re going for. There are a couple techniques to give you lots of texture and layers or subtle texture. Use it with caution and take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the tool. I like this tutorial by Sam Villa Hair.
Reduce the plastic shine
Synthetic wigs have a lot of shine and unless you strive for super shiny slick hair in real life, your budget wig will be a bit unnatural looking. My best tip to easily and instantly reduce shine is using dry shampoo! If you do not have dry shampoo, baby powder can be useful. Or a finishing powder you might use on your face. Apply loose powders lightly with a large puffy brush. Lightly spray on the powder and build up.
Texturizing sprays can also reduce the shine. If you have one, try it on a test spot. If it doesn’t work or ruins the hair, just wash it out and start over.