Carbon Costume

Cheap Wig: before and after

“The wig makes the costume.”

This saying is one most cosplayers live by. A simple cosplay can be made or broken by the wig’s quality. Even with all of these scary words, there’s multiple places to find wigs! Quality wigs are a cosplayer’s dream (or at least mine)! They can withstand heat tools, don’t shed many fibers, and can withstand a few hair whips.

The problem here is…they’re expensive. I’m sure. “Great! A site with wigs that go up to 50 dollars!” Worry not, young cosplayer, for I have a quick save for even the cheapest wig bought from the nearest party store!


For this tutorial, you’ll need:

  • Cheap wig
  • Fabric Softener
  • Baby Powder
  • Bucket
  • Wig Head
  • Wig Stand

Step 1: Snatch that Wig!

Every Fall, they come out of hiding. These hideous, unnecessarily shiny stringy, cheap wigs. These wigs can be found in dollar stores, costume shops and even supermarkets. Lucky for us, that’s exactly what we need. For cosplay, choose the right length and color wig. This beauty I bought from a local Party City. Looks like I stole it from Barbie herself, doesn’t it?

Step 2: Grab a bucket

Find a CLEAN bucket. It’s tempting to use that old mop bucket, but it’s better to use a fresh one from the dollar store. Fill the bucket with fabric softener to cover the wig. Fill the bucket with about a third of the bucket’s height with cold water. Let the concoction sit for at least an hour before letting it soak.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

After giving your wig a spa day in a bucket of softener, rinse all of the softener out with cold water. Most cheap wigs can’t stand too much heat, but we’ll get to that later. You can dry your wig with a towel. Then, blow dry it on a very low setting. It’s likely you’ll run into a few knots. DO NOT RUT THEM OUT. Knots can easily be eliminated by splitting the knotted strands with your fingers, and then gently pulling the knot from the middle. To reduce the amount of wigs that have knots, you can cut them out. Remember to comb your wig from the bottom up, as it is easier to untangle the strands this way.

Step 4: Cautious Styling

Remember the moment I said not to apply heat? Perhaps I may have been a bit misleading. These wigs can tolerate heat up to very low temperatures. It is sometimes necessary to heat style a hair wig. The lowest setting of your straightener should be used. Once the setting has heated up, turn it off. Let the straightener cool down for a moment before you use it. You can heat test a small strand of fibers to determine how hot the wig can handle. If your wig melts, or becomes very soft and frizzy, you will need to let it cool off before you try again. NOTE: HEAT WILL NOT WORK IN ALL WIGS.

Here’s the wig after drying. You can still see the shine.

Step 5: Apply Powder

The last step to a better wig is: BABY POWDER! There is no real measurement for the baby powder, just apply some to the wig until it’s neither dusty nor shiny. If your wig forms a cloud, you will need to repeat the process a few times. I also heard dry shampoo works well as a substitute, but in the end it’s still cornstarch/talcum.

TA-DA! Your wig now looks less plastic-y. Depending on the wig it may still look a little shiny, but this tutorial can’t change a 20 dollar wig into a 50 dollar wig. Wear your 20-dollar wig proudly. Everyone doesn’t have an unlimited budget. If you gotta work with what you’ve got, WORK IT!

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