Naturally the first thing I did when I decided on the costume was order a red wig off eBay:
I loved the color and the shape and was very excited to have found the perfect wig right off the bat!
Until I received the package in the mail and it looked like this:
Pretty much not at all the same color, huh? Or really even the same style...
I wanted to make sure to include this part of the journey to emphasize to all you cosplayers out there how important it is to research your purchases on eBay. Convenient though it may be, descriptions are very rarely accurate.
So I did a little research on dying a synthetic wig and was appalled at how unhelpful all the information out there is. Most people tend to advocate for the Sharpie method, but that seemed way too complicated and expensive for varied results, whereas the acrylic ink route seemed to have positive results when applied correctly, but there was very little information on how the method fared with an already colored wig and there was little to no reference on what to expect during the process.
Finally, I came across an extremely useful blog by funnypeculiar at To The Wig Shop about her experience dying a turquoise wig blue and was reassured. And so I embarked on a magnificent cosplay adventure!
**those of you who would rather watch the video can skip to the end or visit it here
*metal wig stand - NOT STYROFOAM
*FW (or other preferred brand) acrylic artist ink in desired color
*70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol
*spray bottle of any size/material - the smaller the bottle the more you will have to refill
*plastic hair clips - that you don't mind staining
*hairbrush or comb - that you don't mind staining
*rubber or latex gloves
*plastic trash bag or other material to cover workspace
*well-ventilated area - ideally a garage, driveway or similar space
Why a metal wig stand? Because a styrofoam stand will get stained with the ink and be destroyed when the wet wig sits on it to dry.
Where can you get acrylic ink? Michael's does not carry acrylic ink, so don't waste your time. Most local and chain ART stores carry the inks (note Michael's is a CRAFT store, NOT an ART store) - Blick's, Swain's, etc - or you can find them online
Why should you cover your work space and/or work outside? Because this is what my garage looked like when I finished:
STEP 1: cover anything in your work space you don't want to get stained (counter tops, floors, etc)
STEP 2: set up your wig stand and place your wig on it - use clips to secure the wig to the stand
STEP 3: if working with a long wig, section off the hair into thirds (the right separate from the back separate from the left) so you're able to control what you're hitting with color easier
STEP 4: select with section you'll start with and release the lowest seam of the section, keeping the rest up (I forgot to take a photo of this, but you can see it in effect in my video below)
STEP 5: mix your color:
3/4 cup alcohol
6-7 full squeezes of ink
(recommended ratio: 8 full squeezes of color for every 1 cup of alcohol)
*I mixed two colors together for mine and had a small spray bottle, so my measurements were more like this:
3/4 mass of spray bottle of alcohol
6-7 full squeezes of base color
2+ full squeezes of shade color
(I had to refill about 4+ times)
*I recommend doing a strand test on a small section of hair at the underside of the wig to figure out your ideal color mixture
*WIGS CAN NOT STAND MUCH MORE THAN 2 DYES, so if you need to strand test more than that, I'd recommend pulling out a new strand to test or that section will start to fray
STEP 6: spray color onto thin section you left down
STEP 7: brush or comb (brush is least testy) through that section (starting at bottom of strand and working up to avoid tangles) to ensure every strand is saturated
STEP 8: let down the next seam above the section you just sprayed and re-secure the rest of that section
STEP 9: repeat steps 6-8 until wig is completely covered, repeating step 5 as needed (I left a few random layers the original color to create texture in the wig and loved the results, so that is an option and can work beautifully)
|wig with color fully applied|
STEP 10: make sure each section is fully brushed through and saturated then let sit for a MINIMUM OF 2 HOURS, MAXIMUM OF 8 - if the color stays on too long it can start to deteriorate the wig, stick, stiffen, or any number of other horrible things you don't want
STEP 11: rinse
*you can use a small dollop of shampoo, but you don't need it
*make sure you really work the wig strands to get all the ink out and the water is running clear
*MAKE SURE YOUR SINK IS CLEAN - you don't want toothpaste getting stuck on your wig and eating away the color you just applied
STEP 12: let wig dry
STEP 13: once the wig is dry, run a brush over it
TADAH!!!! And you've got yourself a brand new wig!
Before and after comparisons:
And finally, for those of you preferring video instructions:
If you have any questions, feel free to direct them here, on YouTube or @AngiViper
CosPlay with me