Getting a Wig-gle On! Taking Care Of Your Wigs

Have your synthetic wigs gone a bit fuzzy on the end? Have they started to whiff a bit for all the wrong reasons? We caught up with Lilly Laudanum to find out how she cares for hers…

If you’re like me then you will not feel complete on stage until you are wigged-up. My characters depend on wigs for a total transformation, but after a few shows they can become a little worse for wear – all that make-up in the hairline, fuzzy ends and a bit musty because you forgot to take them out of your bag after the show when they were damp from ‘glowing’ on stage…  If your wig is a low-mid price and synthetic, you can restore it very easily (although I’d probably recommend different methods for an expensive or real hair wig…)

WP_20150804_001Washing… 

It’s very easy to wash your wigs. Just brush them through and let them soak in warm water with a detergent of your choice. I like to use Lush shampoos or bubble bath as it makes wigs smell lovely, but you can use any shampoo and I’ve even heard of other performers using fabric washing powder (and conditioner too!). Basically, as they are synthetic, they should be able to take detergent. Let them soak and occasionally swoosh around, and don’t forget to turn inside out and wash the inside of the cap, especially around the hairline and nape areas to freshen them up. Rinse by running cold water on them (easily done in a bath with a shower head) until all the detergent has been washed out. If you want to condition at this stage, do! Word of warning, do not scrub your wigs – ever – you don’t want to destroy the fibres.

Drying

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Carefully place your wigs in a towel and roll up swiss roll style to take out any excess moisture. Give them a brush through with a Tangle Teaser or other soft bristle brush – the hair fibres will be delicate when wet so you don’t want to yank any out with a comb. Then peg up by the face hairline and allow to drip dry

If your wig has gone fuzzy on the ends… 

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Those of you who were goths in the late 80s/early 90s who had coloured monofibre hair extensions will remember this trick! when the wig is still a bit damp (but not wet – you don’t want to boil-burn it!) take a pair of temperature controlled straighteners (WARNING! you MUST use only temperature controlled straighteners as ones without this function will be too hot and melt your wig!) and on the LOWEST setting possible take a thin section of hair and stroke your straighteners down. Test the temperature out on a piece of wig that you can’t see. Basically, this method will melt back any stray and fuzzy filaments leaving the wig a sheet of silk. But please exercise caution… and remember (again! Warning!) do not try this with hot straighteners as your wig will melt…

If your wig needs styling… 

WP_20150805_006I like to do this when the wig is slightly damp so that it dries in shWP_20150805_003ape. Don’t forget you can stitch any wig in any shape, you can pin, and you can also curl. If you are curling with tongs – WARNING! make sure they are temperature controlled tongs on the lowest setting as your wig will melt if the tongs are too hot. You can also stitch accessories such as hats, flowers, necklaces, beads, into wigs too, which saves a lot of faffing on show days and you know the item will be secure and not fall off on stage. But make sure your cat gets out of the hat first…

General Wig Advice

  • After you do a show, always take the wig out of your suitcase and store on wig heads (those cheap polystyrene heads will do), to ensure it dries out, hot shows and hot lights mean sweaty damp wig, which also means when you next go to wear it, it reeks of mold or is a but musty.
  • If you can, use soft bristled brushes to brush out, which prevents yanking clumps out and also the breakage of fibres which leads to your wig going fuzzy and sticking together at the bottom like wool.
  • If your wig has a knot be patient. The wig hair is not like human hair and does not really have any elasticity so going in for the kill with a knot will lead to problems such as the points above. You will need to gently attack the knot from below.
  • If you find your wig slips a bit on stage, get yourself some wig lace – or even cheap net in a neutral colour will do. sew a 5cm strip (no more than 2cm wide) lengthwise at the temple of the wig and arm yourself with some copydex. When you put the wig on, pop a few drops of copydex on the net and stick to your temples, then apply your foundation, powder and any shading over this to disguise it.
  • Putting your hair up properly under a wig will ensure it doesn’t slip off and looks the right shape on your head. Never put your hair into a ponytail or bun and put the wig over this, as not only will your skull look elongated (unless this Giger-Alien thing is what you want going on), the wig will naturally want to slip back to this point. The best method, although time consuming, is taking sections of hair and pin curling them to your head, then – forget about a hair net – putting the wig right on top (the pin curl pins will also stick into the wig and give more grip). If you have short hair a simple headband will pull your hair out of the way.
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